TORONTO – The Montreal defence held Zach Collaros and the Argos in check while Tanner Marsh threw for 309 yards and touchdown as the Alouettes downed the Toronto Argonauts 20-9.
With Ricky Ray and Anthony Calvillo on the sideline, it was the battle of the backups at Rogers Centre as Marsh and Collaros took over their respective teams.
|Related: Alouettes at Argonauts|
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» Images: MTL at TOR
» Marsh cool under pressure in first start
» Video: Emry Scoops and Scores for Als
» Video: Marsh Fires TD Pass into Bruce
» Video: Chiles Extends for 34-Yard Argos TD
» Preview: Collaros, Marsh Duel in Toronto
Marsh was coming off a heroic win last week vs. BC where he completed a hail-mary pass to Eric Deslauriers with one second left to set up a game-winning field goal.
The Argos got on the board first in this one, albeit not the way they likely had hoped for. After a strong opening kickoff return by Chad Owens, Collaros drove them inside Montreal territory to set up a 30-yard Noel Prefontaine field goal. The veteran kicker sailed it wide however and they had to settle for a single point.
Much of the same on the next drive as Collaros connected with Dontrelle Inman on a slant pattern, who turned up field for 56 yards to set up a 20-yard Prefontaine attempt. But the snap was bobbled and despite a valiant effort by backup QB Trevor Harris to redeem the play, the Argos were forced to turn the ball over on downs inside the Alouettes’ five yard line.
Collaros and the Argos would make amends on their following possession however.
After the defence forced a sack, Collaros and company went to work on a 3-play, 52-yard drive. First, Owens took a sweep 18 yards before Collaros spotted John Chiles behind coverage for a 34-yard touchdown and an 8-0 first-quarter lead.
It was the fifth touchdown reception for the rookie speedster who joined the Argos before training camp but only cracked the lineup in late July.
Marsh, who had been got to twice already in the first frame, seemed to have had his biggest play of the quarter when he found SJ Green over the middle. Green turned up field and seemed in the clear, gaining 67 yards before being tracked down by linebacker Jamie Robinson who punched the ball out from his hands and the Argos recovered on their own 15 yard line.
Montreal would force a two-and-out and Marsh would put together a 9-play, 63-yard drive which got the Als on the board with a 12-yard Sean Whyte field goal.
On the Als’ next possession, Marsh would air it out to for 34 yards before throwing a strike to former Argo Arland Bruce lll for a 28-yard touchdown to take Montreal’s first lead of the game, 10-8.
|Quite the start for Marsh|
Making his first career start, Tanner Marsh finished an impressive 18 of 27 for 309 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also connected with SJ Green eight times for 143 yards.
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The Montreal defence then hunkered down, forcing Collaros to force throws and try and escape the pocket. Their relentless pass rush would pay off with just over a minute left in the second quarter when Marc-Olivier Brouillette knocked the ball out of Collaros’ hands and it was scooped up by linebacker Shea Emry who returned it 38 yards for the touchdown and a 17-8 Montreal lead heading into halftime.
Many remember that Emry made a game-changing play against the Argonauts in Montreal’s last visit to Toronto when he picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown against then-Toronto quarterback Jarious Jackson.
Meanwhile, Green had himself a half, leading all receivers with four receptions for 111 yards at the break.
The teams traded interceptions before the Argos engineered their best drive since the first quarter, going 85 yards but a Dontrelle Inman fumble inside the red-zone gave the ball back to the Als and they quickly got out of the shadow of their own goalpost.
Marsh found WR Duron Carter down the sideline for a 47-yard gain and then handed the ball off to RB Jerome Messam who pounded up-field for 29 yards to set up a 14-yard Whyte field goal.
Messam had been replacing Brandon Whitaker in recent weeks but the latter returned against the Argos only to leave in the third quarter with what appeared to be a lower body injury.
The Montreal defence closed out the game from there, limiting Toronto to the short game and eliminating the majority of the big plays over the top.
Chiles had spurts here and there but the Als ‘D’ held Toronto’s biggest playmakers, Owens, Andre Durie and Jason Barnes, in check for the majority of the evening. Neither passed the 100-yard mark.
Marsh finished an impressive 18 of 27 for 309 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Collaros, meanwhile, passed for 261 yards, one touchdown and one interception, completing 21 of 32 passes.
Green led all receivers with a stellar 143 yards on 8 receptions.
The two teams complete the home-and-home next Sunday afternoon at Percival Molson Stadium in Montreal.