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Saskatchewan Roughriders' Loucheiz Purifoy, left, returns a kick for a touchdown during the first half of a game in Vancouver on July 27, 2019.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

This is fast becoming the year of the kick returner in the CFL.

Through eight weeks, 14 kicks have been returned for touchdowns, including a record eight kickoffs. Last year, there were 15 return TDs.

According to CFL stats guru Steve Daniel, the record for an 81-game season is 22, recorded in 2004.

On Friday night, Ottawa rookie DeVonte Dedmon recorded two special-teams touchdowns. He returned a kickoff 111 yards for a score and had a 95-yard punt return TD as the Redblacks earned a 30-27 overtime win over Montreal to not only snap a four-game winless streak, but also to hand the Alouettes their first loss in four contests.

Dedmon had a club-record 382 combined return yards. That’s the second-most in CFL history behind Calgary’s Larry Taylor, who had 428 return yards against Toronto on July 7, 2012.

On Saturday night, Calgary’s Terry Williams scored the CFL-record eighth kickoff return TD, with a 103-yard effort in the Stampeders’ 24-18 home win over the Edmonton Eskimos.

After reeling off five straight wins to open the season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have endured consecutive losses to Hamilton and Toronto.

However, the Bombers can regain sole possession of top spot in the West Division on Thursday night.

Winnipeg (5-2) will play host to Calgary (5-2), with both teams unbeaten within their conference. The Stamps are 3-0 against division rivals while Winnipeg is 2-0.

Calgary comes in riding a three-game win streak with backup Nick Arbuckle. But veteran Bo Levi Mitchell is scheduled to practise Tuesday and could be available against Winnipeg.

Mitchell, the CFL’s and Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Player last year, has been on the six-game injured list with a slightly torn pectoral muscle.

Montreal quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. will miss the Alouettes’ home game on Friday night against Saskatchewan.

Adams Jr. suffered a mild concussion in Montreal’s overtime loss to Ottawa last week. Antonio Pipkin is expected to start against Saskatchewan.

Montreal running back William Stanback, currently second overall in CFL rushing (592 yards), suffered a lower-body injury against Ottawa and is listed as day-to-day.

The beat goes on for Ottawa Redblacks kicker Lewis Ward.

Ward made all three field goals he attempted on Friday night, including a 14-yard effort during overtime in Ottawa’s win over the Alouettes. The 26-year-old CFL sophomore, who is a perfect 19-of-19 this season, extended his pro-football record to 67 straight field-goals made.

Ward’s only miss came in his first-ever CFL game in 2018 against Saskatchewan, when he made three-of-four attempts. And all of his boots haven’t been chip shots as he connected from 52 yards out last year and twice has made field goals from 53 yards this season.

The 5-foot-7 175-pound Ward, who played collegiately at Ottawa, was the CFL’s outstanding rookie and special-teams player last season. He was also a league all-star.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson guided the Argos to a stunning 28-27 home win over the Blue Bombers on Thursday night, its first victory of the season.

Bethel-Thompson was 37-of-49 passing for 343 yards and three TDs, as Toronto (1-6) erased a 20-0 deficit against Winnipeg. Bethel-Thompson’s 11-yard scoring strike to S.J. Green with 13 seconds remaining tied the score at 27-27 before Tyler Crapigna hit the game-winning convert.

Impressive, considering that prior to the game Argos head coach Corey Chamblin said while Bethel-Thompson would start, he wasn’t guaranteed to finish. On Wednesday, Toronto acquired veteran quarterback Zach Collaros from Saskatchewan.

Maybe that’s why as the 31-year-old Bethel-Thompson walked off BMO Field, he stopped at the goal-line, went to his knees and dropped his face to the turf.

“Thank you to my family, thank you, mom and dad,” Bethel-Thompson said afterward. “I just think of all of the people that believed in me and sent me good energy.

“Thank you to my ancestors … my grandpa, Pete, that passed away. My ancestors were there tonight, I could feel them floating with me and I just let go. When you believe in karmic energy and space and time, everything happens at the same time. [My ancestors] were with me. I just thank them and thank them for having my back, and thank them for the moment.”

Bethel-Thompson will have time to relish the win, as Toronto is on a bye week. The Argos return to action against Edmonton on Aug. 16.

Cody Fajardo further justified the Roughriders’ faith in him Thursday night.

On Wednesday, the Riders dealt Collaros to the Argonauts. Collaros began the season as Saskatchewan’s starter, but was knocked out of the club’s season-opening loss in Hamilton owing to a concussion.

Fajardo has stepped in and led the Riders to a 4-3 record. On Thursday, he completed 25-of-31 passes for 313 yards, and ran for a team-high 56 yards and TD in Saskatchewan’s 24-19 home win over Hamilton.

Fajardo’s five-yard touchdown run with 44 seconds remaining erased a 19-16 Hamilton lead.

The 6-foot-2 215-pound Fajardo – a backup in his three previous CFL campaigns – has completed 132-of-177 passes (74.6 per cent) for 1,705 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also rushed for 227 yards and six TDs on 46 carries (4.9-yard average).

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