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Cameron Dukes throws 3 TDs as Argos beat B.C. Lions 35-27

Turnovers plague Leos in their CFL season opener
Toronto Argonauts quarterback Cameron Dukes (11) throws the ball during first half CFL action against the B.C. Lions, in Toronto, on Sunday, June 9, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Cameron Dukes threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as the Toronto Argonauts defeated the visiting B.C. Lions 35-27 on Sunday night in the season opener for both teams.

Dukes finished 21-of-27 passing for 254 yards in leading Toronto (1-0) to a fourth straight home victory over B.C. (0-1).

A sparkling 60-yard punt by John Haggerty put B.C. at its 10-yard line with 2:04 remaining. But the Lions turned the ball over on downs at their one-yard line with 1:25 to play, delighting the BMO Field gathering of 12,767.

Dukes, starting in place of suspended incumbent Chad Kelly, scored on a one-yard run at 13:38 to put Toronto ahead 35-27. B.C. turned the ball over a final time on downs with 48 seconds remaining.

B.C. starter Vernon Adams Jr. drove B.C. to the Toronto 31-yard line with under four minutes remaining but fumbled after being hit hard by Argos defensive lineman Jake Ceresna. Tackle Jordan Williams recovered.

Sean Whyte’s 51-yard field goal at 4:00 earned B.C. a 27-26 advantage. But Lirim Hajrullahu converted from 38 yards out at 7:46 to put Toronto ahead 29-27.


Adams finished 25-of-33 passing for 363 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Ka’Deem Carey, Rasheed Bailey and Dejon Brissett had Toronto’s touchdowns. Hajrullahu added two converts and three field goals.

Justin McInnis, Travis Fulgham and Tibo Debaillie scored B.C.’s touchdowns. Whyte finished with two converts and two field goals while Stefan Flintoft had a single.

Brissett’s 26-yard TD grab put Toronto ahead 23-20 at 3:15 of the third. Whyte’s 36-yard boot at 6:35 tied the score before Hajrullahu made it 26-23 with a 34-yard field goal at 11:10. Flintoft’s 42-yard single at 14:38 cut the Argos’ lead to 26-24.

Hajrullahu’s 37-yard field goal cut B.C.’s halftime lead to 20-16 and capped an eventful second quarter. Dukes drove Toronto 26 yards on six plays after B.C. turned the ball over on downs at the Argos’ 54-yard line.

Adams fumbled on third-and-one and although the Lions recovered, they didn’t get the first down, giving Toronto the ball.

Dukes pulled Toronto to within 20-13, capping a 90-yard, 11-play drive with a 21-yard TD pass to Bailey at 13:35. Earlier, Debaillie returned a Dukes fumble 20 yards for the score that put B.C. ahead 20-6 at 6:56 as defensive lineman Josh Archibald knocked the ball loose while tackling Dukes.

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Adams was 11-of-12 passing for 171 yards and two TDs in the half, his lone incompletion was an interception. He also ran for a team-high 25 yards on eight carries.

Dukes completed 11-of-14 attempts for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

Adams anchored B.C.’s 20-point second quarter with his two scoring strikes. He put the Lions ahead 13-6, hitting a wide-open Fulgham on a 50-yard toss at 6:04.

It came after Adams found McInnis on a 29-yard TD pass at 2:56 to make it 6-6. The snap on the convert attempt was fumbled.

Dukes’ eight-yard TD strike to Carey at 13:57 of the first opened the scoring. It capped a smart 10-play, 84-yard march but the convert was unsuccessful.