VANCOUVER – Tanner Marsh made his limited playing time count Thursday night.
The backup quarterback’s one-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion pass to Tyrell Sutton in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference as the Montreal Alouettes beat the B.C. Lions 23-13.
Marsh was used mostly in short-yardage situations against the Lions. It was just his second appearance of the year after suffering a partially-torn patella tendon in training camp. Marsh’s decisive touchdown and Sutton’s two-point convert enabled Montreal to take a 20-13 lead and came after the Lions had held the Als on first-and-goal.
“I’ve been out of the game the first six weeks and I’m just so excited to be here and part of the team and help the team however I can,” said Marsh. “So I wasn’t really nervous (on the touchdown attempt). I was just more excited to be out there on the field.”
The Alouettes (3-5) overcame early and late deficits as they ended a three-game losing streak and posted only their second win in Vancouver since 2000 — a span of 15 games.
“(The win) shows the character of the team, and it’s huge,” said Marsh, who completed all three of his passes and ran for 12 yards on seven carries. “It’s a great way to start off a winning streak.”
Nik Lewis also scored a touchdown for Montreal — his first since joining the Als after 11 seasons with Calgary — while Boris Bede produced its other points on field goals from 25, 32 and 50 yards.
Much of the talk before the game was about B.C.’s defence as Alex Hoffman-Ellis made his first CFL start for the Lions in place of injured linebacker Solomon Elimimian, the 2014 most outstanding player and defensive player of the year. The Lions, however, weren’t able to generate enough offence.
“We didn’t move the ball consistently enough,” said B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay, who completed 18 of 29 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown.
Lulay threw an interception at 3:54 of the fourth quarter, snared by Dominique Ellis, that led to Montreal’s winning touchdown.
“I was just scrambling out of the pocket and I thought I had a chance to complete it,” said Lulay.
Ryan Phillips, on a 49-yard interception return that he described as “definitely bittersweet,” and Manny Arceneaux, on a 12-yard reception, scored touchdowns for the Lions (3-5), who dropped their second-straight game. B.C.’s other point came on a Richie Leone convert of the Phillips TD.
“We didn’t do the necessary things to win,” said Phillips. “That’s the only way you can put it. We didn’t execute on offence and we allowed too many big runs on our return game and too many big runs on defence.”
The Alouettes racked up 394 yards in net offence while Montreal starting quarterback Rakeem Cato completed 16 of 19 passes for 154 yards, recording a touchdown and an interception.
Former Lion Stefan Logan, who was released by B.C. in the off-season, finished with 185 all-purpose yards, including 131 off punt and kickoff returns.
After Marsh and Sutton combined for the decisive points, Bede’s 32-yard third field goal rounded out the scoring and gave Montreal more hope for a playoff berth.
“I think we’ve got a great chance to make the playoffs,” said Logan. “We’ve just gotta keep fighting and keep doing what we’re doing.”
The Lions now head into a bye week with plenty to think about.
“We’ve gotta go back to the drawing board and get our stuff together, because right now … we’re killing ourselves,” said Phillips.