Toronto Argonauts win 109th Gray Cup final
The Toronto Argonauts won the Gray Cup on Sunday and extended their winning streak to seven in a championship game appearance.
AJ Ouellette scored two touchdowns as the Argonauts defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24-23 at Mosaic Stadium to win the 109th Gray Cup final. The Torontonians had not lifted the precious trophy since 2017.
The Blue Bombers, who were trying to win a third championship in a row, came up against a tight defense from the Argonauts. Janarion Grant had the most punt return in Gray Cup history, a 102-yard touchdown that temporarily gave the Blue Bombers a 23-14 lead.
However, the Argos replied thanks to the third placement of the game by Boris Bede and the second major by Ouellette. The latter had been removed from training camp for the Blue Bombers earlier this season.
In his sixth year in the CFL, Ja’Gared Davis, an Argos defensive lineman, was making his sixth straight Gray Cup final. He won the cup for a second time.
He can thank defensive lineman Robbie Smith, who blocked a Blue Bombers field goal attempt with 45 seconds left in the game. This action sealed the outcome of the meeting.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson, the Argonauts quarterback, has found takers on 15 of 28 throw-ins for 203 yards.
Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros completed 14 of 23 passes for 183 yards. He was the victim of an interception.
Collaros had only one practice to prepare for the Gray Cup as he sprained his right ankle when he was tackled in the final quarter of the West Final last Sunday.
Winnipeg had won back-to-back Gray Cups with Collaros as the starter. On Thursday, the 34-year-old athlete was named CFL MVP for the second straight time.
The only duel between the two clubs this season, which occurred during the fourth week of activities, was also settled by a difference of one point. The Blue Bombers had triumphed 23-22.
Teagan Littlechief, who is from White Bear First Nation in Treaty 4 territory in southeastern Saskatchewan, performed O Canada in three languages – English, French and Cree – during the Canadian League Championship Game football match in Regina between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Toronto Argonauts.
First defense, then offense
The Argonauts were the first to score and they did so thanks to Bede’s feet. He had a 46-yard field goal to give Toronto a 3-0 lead on their second possession in the first quarter.
Bede was unable to follow up on his good streak early in the second quarter, his 36-yard punt missing the target, but gave the Argos a single.
The Bombers came back into the game on the next possession. A 39-yard pass caught by Dalton Schoen helped the Blue Bombers close in on the end zone. Dakota Prukop netted the middle finger with a quarter-yard sneak on third down. The Bombers took a 7-4 lead.
Towards the end of the first half, the two clubs exchanged pleasantries. Bede caught up with a 36-yard field goal before Marc Liegghio made a 45-yard field goal. The Blue Bombers retired for the locker room with a 10-7 lead.
The second half allowed for more open play.
The Queen City team started the second half with a knife between their teeth. After hitting a quarterback sack and forcing the Blue Bombers to punt after an offensive streak, Ouellette wrapped up the Argos’ first possession in the second half with a major on a 4-yard run.
The Blue Bombers responded instantly with a touchdown after a 13-play offensive streak. Prukop made his second sneak of the quarter of the game to restore the Manitobans to a 17-14 lead.
Grant then pulled off a stroke of genius. His punt return from 102 yards, where he weaved between multiple Torontonians, allowed the Blue Bombers to make it 23-14. Liegghio missed the conversion.
After a 36-yard field goal from Bede, a quick offensive streak from the Argonauts allowed Ouellette to score his second major of the game. Bede completed the conversion and the Argonauts took the lead by one point.
If Henoc Muamba’s interception was to set the table for an easy placement for the Argonauts, Nick Hallet blocked Bede’s attempt and the gap remained at one point.
Legghio had one last chance to give his team the lead, but his 46-yard kick was also blocked. The Argonauts then elapsed the last seconds on the clock to confirm their victory.
To see in video