BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Chad Kelly, native son of Western New York and nephew to Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, made his first Canadian Football League start Saturday in the regular season finale for the Toronto Argonauts.
Kelly completed 23 of 35 passes for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, while rushing for 35 yards and a touchdown in the Argonauts’ 38-33 loss to the Montreal Alouettes
Ben Holmes of Orchard Park was listed as Kelly’s backup on the Argos online depth chart for the game.
Kelly, who won the Connolly Cup as St. Joe’s quarterback in 2011, has completed 3 of 10 passes for 33 yards with two interceptions in backing up starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson for Toronto’s first 17 games. Kelly has been a productive runner, with 102 yards and five touchdowns on 19 carries.
“I’m excited,” Kelly told reporters on Thursday. “Obviously, it’s been a long time waiting to play and start a meaningful game. I’m excited to get out there with the guys and just have fun.”
The 28-year-old Kelly started a game for the first time since he was a senior at Ole Miss in 2016. Kelly, who began his college career at Clemson and also played for Eastern Mississippi Community College, had 6,800 yards passing, 841 yards rushing and 65 total touchdowns in 22 starts for the Rebels. At the end of his junior season, Kelly became the first Ole Miss player to be MVP of the Sugar Bowl since Archie Manning in 1970.
Kelly was drafted by the Denver Broncos with the final pick in 2017. He was the No. 2 quarterback in 2018 behind Case Keenum, the current Buffalo Bills backup, and made his lone NFL appearance in the sixth game of the season with kneeldown before halftime. Kelly was released the next week by the Broncos, and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal trespassing, following his arrest after leaving a Halloween party hosted by current Bills defender Von Miller.
The following year, Kelly joined the Indianapolis Colts, coached by Frank Reich, his uncle’s former backup in Buffalo, and Kelly played in a preseason game in Orchard Park against the Bills before being signed to the Colts practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster that November, but did not appear in a game. He spent a month of the 2020 season on the Colts practice squad
Kelly signed with the Argonauts in February after being acquired as a negotiation list player in a trade with the Edmonton Elks last October.
Holmes, who had a record-setting career playing quarterback for Nassau Community College and NCAA Division II Tarleton State, signed with the Argonauts in August. He spent last training camp with the Montreal Alouettes, and some time earlier this season with Edmonton, but has not yet appeared in a CFL game.
The Orchard Park native was the fourth overall pick in the USFL draft by the New Jersey Generals, but got released in training camp before breaking his foot. Holmes had almost 6,000 yards passing, 560 yards rushing, and 62 total touchdowns in 25 games for the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League in 2021.
With a spot in the Grey Cup playoffs secured, the Argos plan to rest Bethel-Thompson and several starters for the final regular season game.