Quarterback Jarious Jackson admitted he had no idea what was going on and defensive tackle Aaron Hunt called it a crazy ending.
There was a lot of confusion after the B.C. Lions wild 19-12 win over the Montreal Alouettes Friday night. But what remained clear was the clutch running of tailback Martell Mallett, the big plays from the Lions defence, and the fact Wally Buono moved into a tie for most wins as a CFL coach.
Mallett rushed for a franchise record 213 yards on 21 carries. He set up Emmanuel Arceneaux's winning touchdown catch with a 54-yard romp, and caught a touchdown himself.
"The offensive line did a good job," said Mallett. "I just ran.
"Coach put us in the right position. All we had to do was execute. The sky is the limit when you do that."
The win gives Buono, the Lions coach and general manager, 231 career victories. That ties him with Don Matthews for all-time CFL victories. He can set the record when the Lions and Alouettes meet again next Sunday.
"I'm happy with the fact that I tied it," said Buono, who has won four Grey Cups in his 19 seasons coaching with Calgary and B.C. "I've always had a lot of respect for Don Matthews and I've always had a lot of respect for this league.
"The satisfaction for me, honestly, is the fact the guys lined up and won."
The game had a wild finish that left many in the crowd of 27,199 going home scratching their heads.
Jarious Jackson tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to Arceneaux to give the Lions the lead with less than 2:30 left.
The Alouettes refused to quit and marched the ball down to the B.C. eight-yard line.
Facing a third-and-one, Montreal gambled. The Lions looked to have stopped them short, but the referee said B.C. had called a time out before the play started.
On the next play, Avon Cobourne ran around the left side for an apparent touchdown. There was a flag on the field, and the referee ruled the play would not stand because not enough time had been put back on the clock after the time-out call.
On Montreal's third try, Cobourne was stopped short and the ball was turned over on downs.
"I had no idea what was going on," said Jackson, who completed 17-of-30 passes for 217 yards and the two touchdowns. "I was sitting on the bench wishing the defence would stop them."
Hunt could only laugh afterwards.
"It was crazy," he said. "I still don't know what the penalty was. It worked out for us."
Montreal coach Marc Trestman wasn't smiling.
Asked if he could explain the call on the field, Trestman said: "I will let the league take care of it."
The loss dropped Montreal to 7-2 and continued the Alouettes' frustration in Vancouver. Montreal's last win at B.C. Place Stadium was Aug. 31, 2000.
"Every time we come here, we think we're a better football team," said Montreal cornerback Davis Sanchez. "But they seem to get us here. It's frustrating but they played a good game."
The win improved B.C.'s record to 4-5 and moved them into a tie with Saskatchewan and Calgary for second place in the CFL West.
"We knew going in it was going to be a heavyweight fight," said Jackson. "We knew they are a good team,
"We were smart with the football. We had a couple of turnovers but, overall, we played well and kept fighting and being resilient, no matter what the situation was."
The Lions defence had something to prove after being humiliated in giving up almost 400 rushing yards in B.C.'s 37-10 home loss to Winnipeg.
Montreal, who leads league in scoring, couldn't manage an offensive touchdown.
The Lions rush gave quarterback Anthony Calvillo fits, sacking him three times and hurrying other throws. Slotback Ben Cahoon was limited to one catch.
"I missed a few guys on some big plays, missed a couple of reads, and it cost us the game," said Calvillo, who competed 18-of-29 passes for 294 yards.
The Alouettes scored the game's first touchdown when a third-down snap sailed over punter Sean Whyte's head. Slotback Eric Deslauriers recovered and ran 34 yards for the touchdown.
The Lions responded with some hard running from Mallett, a key catch from Paris Jackson and got lucky with a pass interference call which helped set up a touchdown.
Mallett started the drive by ripping off a 22-yard run, then Paris Jackson hauled in a 23-yard pass. On the next play Montreal defensive back Billy Parker was called for pass interference, setting up the Lions on the Montreal five. Mallett scored on the next play on a five-yard pass.
The game featured some big plays and questionable calls by the officials.
Early in the fourth quarter a Lion drive stalled after Mallett fumbled on the Montreal eight-yard line. At first the referees ruled B.C. ball because the play was dead. But upon review it was ruled Mallett's knee was not down when he coughed up the football.
The Lions had a chance to take the lead with 5:37 left but Mark Estelle got his hand on Whyte's 41-yard field-goal attempt. The Als took over the ball deep in their own end because of an objectionable conduct call against Chip Cox.
Unable to move the ball, and facing a punt out of their own end-zone, the Als conceded a safety to tie the game 12-12.
Trestman said the Alouettes were the architects of their own demise.
"We didn't play well on any side of the ball, we didn't play our best," he said. "It was a game where no one play, no one official's call, determined the result of anything.
"We had plenty of opportunities to play better and we didn't play well enough to win."
Notes: Mallett broke the Lions single-game rushing record of 212 yards set by Sean Millington in a Aug. 15, 1997, game against Saskatchewan. ...Buck Pierce, who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms, dressed as the Lions third quarterback. ...B.C.'s first game in Canadian football was a 22-0 loss to Montreal in a Aug. 11, 1954, pre-season game.