Chad Kelly threw four TD passes and Javon Leake returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown to power the Toronto Argonauts to a wild 44-31 win over the Ottawa Redblacks on a breezy Sunday night.
Toronto (7-1) entered its third and final bye week on a winning note. The Argos were coming off their first loss of the year, a 20-7 decision in Calgary, and played at BMO Field for the first time since a 45-24 victory over the B.C. Lions on July 3.
The Argos moved four points ahead of the second-place Montreal Alouettes (5-3) in the East Division. They improved to 11-2 versus Ottawa since 2017.
Ottawa (3-6) fell to 0-4 within the East Division and 1-4 on the road.
Kelly finished 21-of-28 for 417 yards with the four TDs and an interception. DaVaris Danies had six receptions for 180 yards and three touchdowns while Cam Phillips added five catches for 115 yards.
Ottawa's Dustin Crum completed 21-of-27 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Jaelon Acklin registered six catches for 157 yards and a TD.
The contest was played in a consistent 28-kilometre-an-hour breeze that gusted to 41 km-h. But that didn't bother either offence as both scored going into the wind.
However, the conditions certainly played into Toronto's favour in the third quarter when Ottawa had to punt into the wind on its one-yard line. The Argos got the ball at the Redblacks' 35.
Following a face mask penalty on Ottawa defensive lineman Mike Wakefield, Kelly found Daniels on a 14-yard touchdown pass at 13:49. After a fumbled hold prevented Boris Bede from trying the convert, his 100-yard kickoff went for a single and a 41-31 Toronto lead.
Leake put Toronto ahead 34-24 at 3:01 of the third quarter. After breaking Ottawa's contain, Leake reversed his field and angled toward the end zone, just making it inside the pylon before being tackled.
But Crum countered with an 11-yard TD pass to Jackson Bennett at 8:29 to cut Ottawa's deficit to 34-31. Toronto drove to the Redblacks' one-yard line before A.J. Ouellette was stopped on third down at 12:04.
Ouellette and Cameron Dukes had Toronto's other touchdowns. Bede added four converts, a field goal and single.
Justin Hardy and Cariel Brooks had Ottawa's other touchdowns. Lewis Ward kicked four converts and a field goal.
Dukes gave Toronto a most improbable 28-24 halftime lead with a one-yard TD run at 14:26 of the second. He capped a 74-yard, seven-play march in what was a wild ending to the quarter.
Dukes' TD followed Brooks's 42-yard pick-six at 13:20 that put Ottawa ahead 24-21. It followed a bizarre set of events that began with Toronto seemingly on Ottawa's four-yard line following Kelly's 51-yard completion to Kurleigh Gittens Jr.
However, Toronto tackle Isiah Cage was flagged for unnecessary roughness and because the officials deemed it occurred while the ball was in the air, the home team instead faced second-and-25 from its 39-yard line. What's more, Kelly was flagged for objectionable conduct for running into an official during Brooks's return.
The late-quarter theatrics certainly added to what was a wide-open, entertaining first half.
Kelly was 11-of-16 passing for 239 yards and three TDs — he completed six-of-nine for 188 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter alone. His favourite target was Daniels, who had four receptions for 144 yards and two TDs.
Crum was 13-of-15 passing for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Acklin had three catches for 87 yards.
Kelly's 12-yard TD pass to Ouellette at 11:18 of the second gave Toronto a 21-17 advantage. It came after Crum's six-yard touchdown pass to Hardy at 8:39 to end a smart 11-play, 78-yard march into the wind.
On Toronto's first possession with the wind, Kelly found a wide-open Daniels on a 60-yard scoring strike at 1:24 of the second. Kelly's 10-yard touchdown pass to Daniels at 2:28 of the first put the Argos on the board and culminated a seven-play, 81-yard march into the wind.
Crum staked Ottawa to a 10-0 lead with a 55-yard TD pass to Acklin at 8:41. Ward opened the scoring with a 50-yard field goal at 3:32.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2023.