Johnny Manziel finally got his first CFL touchdown, but the quarterback wants to start winning football games.
Manziel threw two touchdowns in a losing effort as the surging Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Montreal Alouettes 34-29 on Sunday afternoon.
“If we would have come out here and gotten a win, and there were zero touchdown passes on the board, I would be sitting here happier than I am right now,” said Manziel, who’s still looking for his first victory of the season. “But I got the monkey off my back.”
Manziel completed 9 of 16 passes for 138 yards. The former Heisman Trophy winner added 45 yards on the ground. He was sacked five times.
The Alouettes starting quarterback found the end zone for the first time this season on one of Montreal’s nicest plays of the year.
On a carefully executed trick play early in the second quarter, Manziel handed the ball off to running back William Stanback, who reversed it to receiver B.J. Cunningham with another handoff. Cunningham flicked the ball back to Manziel, who went deep for the 47-yard score to a wide-open Adarius Bowman.
“I’m not going to lie, I didn’t have 100 per cent faith in it because it didn’t really work in practice,” said Bowman. “But coach said it would and he said it was up this week. It was nice for the team to execute it and get it done.”
The touchdown put the Alouettes ahead 14-13 in Manziel’s fourth CFL start.
“We had been trying to call it since the first play of the game,” said Manziel, the former first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns. “I was just trying to get B.J. to get me the ball as quick as possible because I could see what was happening down the field.”
In the fourth quarter, Manziel threw his second touchdown of the game when he found Ernest Jackson in the end zone for the 20-yard score to make it 31-29. Montreal almost tied the game with a two-point conversion but Manziel was stopped on the one-yard line.
That’s as close as the Alouettes would get, as Saskatchewan’s Brett Lauther kicked a 23-yard-field goal with 4:14 left in the game.
Montreal has lost three games in a row and dropped to 3-11-0 on the season.
“If you ask me what’s most frustrating, it’s our inability to win here in this stadium in front of our home crowd,” said coach Mike Sherman. “It saddens me that we can’t let them go home with a win in their pockets. We’re competitive but we’re not winning games.”
Zach Collaros went 29 for 41 for 394 yards, a touchdown and an interception as Saskatchewan (9-5-0) won for the sixth time in seven games.
The Roughriders had 506 yards of total offence to Montreal’s 187.
“They were very opportunistic,” said Riders coach Chris Jones. “We unfortunately made errors that resulted in points for them which made the game remain close. The offensive line did a pretty nice job after they settled in and our running backs and our receiving core had positive games.”
Montreal opened the scoring 6:51 into the game with an Antonio Pipkin QB sneak to take a 7-0 lead.
The Roughriders tied the game three minutes later on a 27-yard touchdown by Tre Mason, his first of the season.
Saskatchewan went up 13-7 on a 23-yard pass from Collaros to Kyran Moore in the dying seconds of the second quarter.
Manziel’s TD and a Boris Bede field goal gave the Alouettes a 17-13 lead.
Nick Marshall punched the ball into the end zone from one yard out late in the first half and the Riders added a two-point conversion.
Saskatchewan went up 24-17 on a Lauther field goal.
Marshall scored another one-yard touchdown at 4:30 of the third quarter to put the visitors up 31-17.
Stefan Logan cut the deficit to 31-23 on a 74-yard punt return at 14:21 of the third quarter. He became the Alouettes’ all-time franchise leader for punt return yards.
“I saw progress today in a lot of areas for us,” said Manziel. “It’s tough to keep coming up short like this. Nobody likes sitting here with the record that we have and the position that we’re in. But I’m not discouraged and I don’t see any discouragement throughout the locker room.”
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press