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Toronto Argonauts

Dukes Brings the Argonauts to Victory in Season Opener

Cameron Dukes and Vernon Adams each had a game to remember in the season opener in Toronto. The Argonauts were strong in the fourth, clinching the win.

The Toronto Argonauts open the 2024 campaign with a 35-27 win over the BC Lions.

It was a game which could have gone either way Sunday night in Toronto with 6 lead changes and a tied score twice. It seemed for a moment as if the Lions were running away with the game in the second quarter, leading 20-6. The Argonauts scored 10 points in the last 2 minutes of the first half and opened the second with a touchdown drive taking a 23-20 lead in the third. Toronto had totally shifted the momentum, but BC wasn’t going away, tying it up with a field goal on the next drive.

Cameron Dukes was reliable as can be, completing 21 of 27 passes for 254 yards and 3 passing touchdowns. He started the game perfect going 6 for 6 for 81 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. At halftime he had 183 yards passing and two touchdowns, completing 14 of 17 passes.

For as good a game as it was it was by no means perfect. In the second quarter, immediately after a 50-yard touchdown for BC, Dukes was sacked 12 yards behind the line, fumbling as he went down. The fumble was scooped up by BC’s Tibo Debaillie who ran it in for the touchdown, giving BC a 20-6 lead midway through the second quarter.

After 2 starts in his rookie year with the Argos, Cameron Dukes was able to evade the defensive line when he needed to. On the day Dukes ran 5 times for 37 yards including a 1-yard dive over the goal line for a touchdown in the last few minutes of the game.  

Former Blue Bombers ace Rasheed Bailey was targeted 7 times, the most of any Argonauts receivers. He made 5 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Dejon Brissett made 3 receptions on 4 targets for 52 yards and a touchdown. Makai Polk made good on 3 receptions going 40 yards, his longest being 23 yards.

On the day Dukes targeted 8 receivers, 7 of them made at least 2 receptions.

Ka’Deem Carey, who led the CFL in rushing yards in 2022 in Calgary, was a major contributor for the Argonauts early on. Carey was stopped on drives in the fourth quarter when the Argonauts were trying to kill the clock limiting his yardage to 65 yards on 16 carries. His longest run of 17-yards came in the first quarter. On the day he made 4 receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown.

Daniel Adeboboye entered in third quarter, finishing with 19 yards on 4 carries.

Janarion Grant made his Argonauts debut as well, returning kickoffs and punts. The former Blue Bomber juggernaut returned 3 punts 43 yards, his longest going 16 yards. He brought 4 kickoffs back 92 yards. Grant is a tricky returner who knows how to turn any return into a 10-15 yard pickup, finding cracks in the coverage to pick up yards. Grant won two Grey Cups in Winnipeg and brought 9 punts back for touchdowns in his time there, averaging nearly 13 yards per return.

DEFENSE

Vernon Adams had a good day passing for BC despite being sacked 6 times. 4 of those sacks came in the fourth quarter alone, one of which forced a fumble. Adams completed25 of 33 passes for 363 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Adams started the game lightning hot, going 9 for 9 for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns to start. His first incompletion was a pass tipped by Royce Metchie and intercepted by DaShaun Amos in the second quarter.

In a charge to retake the lead in the fourth Adams competed 9 of 14 passes for 126 yards. Still, the Lions only scored 3 points in the quarter.

Jake Ceresna

Newcomer Jake Ceresna made his case Sunday evening getting 4 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Ceresna, who was acquired in the offseason, had 12 sacks last season.

Defensive tackle Jared Brinkman had 2 sacks on the day. Brinkman had made a huge sack in the third quarter which pushed the Lions out of field goal range.

With 3:30 left in the game, BC down by 2, Adams was sacked by Jake Ceresna, the second time Adams was sacked on the drive. Ceresna forced a fumble recovered by Jordan Williams.

The Lions were able to get the ball back following that drive but made nothing of it. They turned the ball over on downs at their own 1 yard line, leading to Cameron Dukes diving in for the touchdown.

Lirim Hajrullahu was good on field goals, going 3 for 3 from 37, 34 and 38 yards. He did however miss twice on the PAT. A missed PAT in the fourth quarter kept the Toronto lead at just 8 points, giving Vernon Adams something to fight for.

The 1-0 Argonauts will have a week 2 bye. They won’t suit up again until June 22nd when they host the 0-1 Edmonton Elks.

author avatar
Matthew Harrison
Since my I attended my first Blue Bomber game at Canad Inns Stadium in the very early 2000s, I have been a passionate follower of the CFL. Watching from home week in and week out or spending an evening losing my voice at a game, I have always loved this league. This year I'll be covering the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts, two promising teams, each with a chip on their shoulder coming into 2024. Follow me here to stay up to date with what you need to know going into gameday.
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