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Ottawa Redblacks' Greg Ellingson (82) tries to keep the ball away from Montreal Alouettes' Chip Cox (11) during first half CFL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

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.

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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.

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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.

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