Johnny Manziel delivered a much-improved performance on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough for a victory.
In his second game as starting quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes, Manziel’s team lost 24-17 to the host Ottawa Redblacks before 25,161 at TD Place.
The former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was 16-for-26 passing for 168 yards and nearly ran for a 17-yard touchdown, but he fumbled and it was recovered by centre Kristian Matte for the major to give the Alouettes (1-7) a 16-11 lead in the third quarter.
The Redblacks (5-3) rallied, however, and William Powell scampered into the end zone from 10 yards out with just 36 seconds remaining to put his team ahead for good.
Manziel was coming off a disastrous CFL debut when he threw four interceptions last week in a loss against Hamilton.
He was better against Ottawa, not throwing an interception. But the best quarterback was Redblacks counterpart Trevor Harris, who was 44-of-54 passing for 487 yards, surpassing the 15,000-yard mark for his career.
Redblacks rookie Lewis Ward broke Luca Congi’s CFL record for most consecutive field goals made by a first-year player after knocking in his 22nd straight.
The 15-yard attempt in the fourth quarter tied the game at 17-17.
Ward’s record-breaking attempt came after he made a 33-yarder earlier in the fourth to cut Montreal’s lead to 17-14.
Montreal sits last in the CFL’s East Division, while Ottawa is on top — the only team in the division with a winning record.
Harris threw his first touchdown of the game in the third quarter, a 14-yard strike to R.J. Harris. It was Harris’ first receiving touchdown of the season, and put Ottawa ahead 11-5 — its first lead of the game.
The Alouettes added a single just before halftime to make it 9-5. It came after Ward made a 45-yard field goal to cut the lead to 8-5.
A Harris pass intended for Greg Ellingson was picked off by Montreal linebacker Chris Ackie and returned 35 yards for a touchdown to give the Alouettes an 8-2 lead earlier in the second quarter.
The lone point scored by either team in a turnover-filled first quarter came after Montreal’s Bede booted a 57-yard punt into the Ottawa end zone for a single.
The Redblacks head to Winnipeg to play the Blue Bombers (5-3) on Friday, while the Alouettes are in Edmonton to take on the Eskimos (5-3) next Saturday.