MONTREAL — Sunday was a day to celebrate Johnny Manziel’s first CFL win as well as rookies and veterans for the Montreal Alouettes, as they downed the Toronto Argonauts 40-10 in their final home game of 2018 at Percival Molson Stadium.
Rookie running back William Stanback racked up 112 all-purpose yards along with his first and second career touchdowns in the Montreal victory, while veteran defensive end John Bowman electrified the Alouette faithful one final time with a late-game defensive touchdown.
Als quarterback Johnny Manziel threw for a respectable 139 yards and a touchdown, earning his first-ever CFL victory, prior to being lifted in a planned move at halftime in favour of backup Antonio Pipkin, who threw for 46 yards and a touchdown in a run-dominated second half.
Montreal’s back field was in good hands beyond Stanback, as rookie Lawrence Pittman also racked up a career-high 60 rush yards.
The Alouettes opened the scoring, as Manziel and Stanback drove down to the Toronto six-yard line to set up a 13-yard chip shot of a field goal from kicker Boris Bede.
Ronnie Pfeffer got the visitors on the board midway through the first quarter, sending a booming punt 57 yards into the end zone where Montreal return man Stef Logan conceded the rouge.
Nebraska product Drew Brown then continued his perfect debut season in the CFL, nailing a 25-yard field goal to give the Argos a 4-3 lead.
Montreal regained the lead on the final play of the first quarter; Manziel rolled out and lobbed a short pass to Stanback, who then scampered 42 yards to the end zone for his first career CFL touchdown. Bede’s subsequent convert made it a 10-4 ballgame.
A 33-yard boot from Bede extended the lead to 13-4 and the Als were off to the races.
Momentum swung further in the hosts’ direction midway through the second quarter, when a 44-yard field goal attempt by Brown was blocked by Montreal’s Woody Baron. Veteran John Bowman — all-but-confirmed to be playing in his final game at Percival Molson Stadium — came up with the loose ball.
One play later, the Als were back in the end zone thanks to some razzle dazzle; Manziel threw a lateral to receiver Eugene Lewis, who then quickly chucked a deep bomb to a wide-open George Johnson for a 61-yard major.
Two kicks from Bede — the ensuing convert kick and a 26-yard field goal to close out the half — sent the Alouettes to the locker room with a 23-4 lead.
Montreal head coach Mike Sherman raised some eyebrows with a halftime switch, lifting Manziel in favour of Antonio Pipkin, but RDS‘s Didier Ormejuste reported the decision was strictly made to evaluate Pipkin.
The Als immediately extended their lead four minutes into the second half with a 21-yard Bede field goal.
Quarterback James Franklin and the Argos finally found the end zone late in the third quarter, capping an eight-play, 91-yard drive with a pretty touchdown pass to Armanti Edwards. Toronto’s two-point convert attempt fell incomplete, and the hosts’ lead stood at 26-10.
Bowman’s farewell tour in front of the home fans earned a raucous round of applause early in the fourth quarter, when he hauled Franklin to the turf for a sack.
The 13-year veteran then put an exclamation mark on the day, recovering a Franklin fumble — forced by teammate Ryan Brown — in the end zone for a defensive touchdown; Bede’s convert made it 33-10.
Montreal’s offence added another point of emphasis in the final minute, as Pipkin found Stanback for a 10-yard catch-and-run touchdown; Bede’s subsequent boot rounded out the scoring at 40-10.
Sunday’s result drew the Als back on level terms with the Argos in the battle to not finish last, with both squads now owning 4-13 records.
Toronto will finish its 2018 season next Friday in the nation’s capital, where the Argos will visit the REDBLACKS on Friday Night Football (7:30 p.m. ET).
Mike Sherman’s Alouettes will aim to build on the win next week, wrapping up their season on the road in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats next Saturday (7:00 p.m. ET).