Down 20-0 in the second quarter after losing the first six games of the season, Toronto Argonauts head coach Corey Chamblin saw something special on Thursday night.
The most outstanding performance of his quarterback’s career.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson completed 37-out-of 49 passes and threw for 343 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions as he led the Argonauts to a 28-27 upset victory over the CFL West Division leaders, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“I think it’s McLeod’s finest moment,” said Chamblin, in his post-game press conference. “We wanted him to have a level of success tonight — to prove something, and he did just that.”
With the Argos down six and less than two minutes to go, Bethel-Thompson led the Double Blue down the field on a 72-yard drive capped off by an 11-yard TD reception by SJ Green with 10 seconds left on the clock.
“SJ’s got hall of fame hands,” said Bethel-Thompson, after his victory at BMO Field, his first in nearly a year. “He’s such a competitor, a great football player and an even better person.”
— Toronto Argonauts (@TorontoArgos) August 2, 2019
As the Argos’ backup under centre to start the season, the 31-year-old has had to compete for playing time and that didn’t change going into the week eight matchup.
On Wednesday the team announced it had acquired Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros for a conditional fourth-round pick.
— Toronto Argonauts (@TorontoArgos) August 1, 2019
Collaros began his CFL career with the Boatmen in 2012 but signed in Hamilton following two seasons. The Steubenville, Ohio native has thrown for 83 touchdowns as compared to just 38 interceptions in 73 games.
Despite the 30-year-old’s resume, Bethel-Thompson isn’t concerned.
“I’m not going to worry about the QB situation,” said the San Francisco, California native. “We’ve got a good Edmonton team that beat us a week ago so we have a good challenge coming up.
Chamblin remained coy when it came to the new circumstance under centre.
“We’ll make the decision once the week off ends,” said the 2013 CFL coach of the year. “McLeod won the game though and he’ll have to prepare for the next one.”
Heading into the bye week Bethel-Thompson isn’t satisfied and wants to focus on one particular aspect of his game.
“I think I need to work on my sprints,” said Bethel-Thompson. “I’ve got some more juice in my legs and I probably could’ve broken another tackle on that late 14-yard run.”
The added time between games is something Collaros will take advantage of as well.
“Getting acclimated with the team and the playbook over that time will definitely be helpful,” said Collaros, in his introductory media availability before kick-off. “We’ve got a great receiving core with new players that I’ve been able to admire from a far the last few seasons.
“I’m anxious to get to work with them.”
Argonauts will look to earn their first back-to-back victory in almost exactly a year in what were the first two starts of Bethel-Thompson’s CFL career, as Toronto hosts the Edmonton Eskimos (4-2) on Aug. 16.
Winnipeg (5-2) heads back to Manitoba 0-2 on their QEW road trip and will face the Calgary Stampeders (4-2) Thursday.