Canadian Football League

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Argos first in Canadian Football League East

Bashir Levingston couldn't have picked a better time to score the Toronto Argonauts' first special-teams touchdowns of the year.
Toronto Argonauts Bashir Levingston, foreground, runs from his own end zone to score a touchdown in the second half.Levingston had a 109-yard punt return for a touchdown and also took a missed field goal 111 yards for a TD, both in the fourth quarter, to lead Toronto to a wild 25-16 win over the Calgary Stampeders on Wednesday night. The touchdowns were Toronto's first on special teams this season, a huge boost for a unit which had come under fire of late for its inability to score. The Argos came into this season having returned 10 kicks for touchdowns.
"I know I'm still the best (kick returner in CFL)," Levingston said. "I told you all I would lead in touchdowns when the year was over.
"I meant it, but we're just taking a little longer than I wanted. It was tough being patient. I had a couple that were close, but close doesn't mean anything."
Levingston is now tied with Montreal's Ezra Landry and Edmonton's Tony Tompkins for the CFL lead in special-teams touchdowns. It also was Levingston's 13th career punt return TD, leaving him just one behind current Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons.
"That's football at it's best," said Calgary head coach Tom Higgins. "He (Levingston) is a treat to watch.
"He's truly dynamic as a returner."
Levingston electrified the season-low Rogers Centre gathering of 24,637 by breaking three tackles and returning Burke Dales's punt for the touchdown at 6:23 of the third to put Toronto ahead 18-10.
Calgary pulled to within 18-16 at 12:39 on Henry Burris's 35-yard TD strike to Jeremaine Copeland. A Toronto offside call put the ball at the Argos' one-yard line, so the Stampeders went for the two-point convert. But Burris was stopped short on the sneak attempt.
Calgary's Sandro DeAngelis, who came into the game having made 20-of-22 field goals, missed two-of-three attempts Wednesday night. He tried a 54-yard field goal for the lead with 44 seconds remaining, but was just short.
After running around the end zone to kill time, Levingston found an opening down the left sideline and took off. He got a break block from Kevin Eiben, then picked up an escort downfield and ran untouched into the end zone.
"I was just playing with them for a minute trying to waste the clock," Levingston said. "When I took enough time off the clock, I looked to the left and Eiben gave me a great block and after that it was all she wrote."
The win was the second in four days for Toronto (6-3), which moved atop the East Division despite committing four turnovers. Calgary (4-5) remains third in the West.
"We kept thinking special teams would make a difference in a game soon," said Clemons. "We did spend a little extra time in the area of special teams trying to fine-tune things and get it together.
"The reality is a great player made a couple of great plays. I don't think we blocked it up as well as we have in some of the returns in the past. He (Levingston) just made a couple of spectacular plays."
Levingston's punt return tied Pernell Moore for the second-longest in Argos history. The longest is a 131-yard effort by Boyd Carter, who lateralled the ball to Dave Mann to complete the play in 1968.
Levingston's fireworks came after Argos receiver Robert Baker brought fans to their feet with a big play of his own.
Baker laid out Calgary's Trey Young on an interception return with a bone-jarring hit. Young fumbled and Baker recovered to keep Toronto's drive alive. It was culminated with Noel Prefontaine's 24-yard field goal at 5:16 that put the Argos ahead 11-10.
"I just did what I felt I had to do, which was get the ball back," said Baker, who finished with eight catches for 50 yards. "As for the hit, he left himself open, I don't know how he didn't see me."
Well, Young didn't.
"I thought we would've had Baker blocked," Young said. "I didn't see him.
"Someone should've taken him."
Toronto won despite committing five turnovers (three fumbles and two interceptions). Argos quarterback Damon Allen finished 26-of-35 passing for 276 yards and a touchdown.
Burris completed 19-of-32 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown.
"It's frustrating," Burris said. "We've been trying to cut down on our turnovers and when they started giving it to us, we couldn't take advantage."
Tony Miles had Toronto's other touchdown. Prefontaine finished with three converts, a field goal and single.
Ken-Yon Rambo scored Calgary's other touchdown. DeAngelis added the convert and a field goal.
NOTES - Dave Costa replaced the injured Jerome Davis (groin) in Toronto's starting lineup . . . Calgary owned the rights to Argos backup Michael Bishop before dealing them to Toronto during the 2002 CFL draft . . . Fullback Sean Millington, who ended a 2 1/2-year retirement earlier this week, dressed for Toronto.


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