Marsh Madness: raw rookie leads 39-38 last-play comeback win
The raw rookie Tanner Marsh in only his 2nd CFL relief appearance threw a perfect long bomb strike in the final seconds to set up Sean Whyte for a 15-yard chip-shot to redemption.
Whyte nailed it when it mattered most, making up for a miss from outside the 40 that the Lions ran back for a touchdown that could have snuffed out hope of a remarkable comeback drama the Als appeared to be writing.
Marsh restored hope for the season, improving the Als' record to 3-5 and rewarding Jim Popp's bold decision to yank Josh Neiswander from his first CFL start late in the 1st quarter.
Neiswander struggled in a long relief appearance of Anthony Calvillo last Saturday in Regina throwing 2 picks, and when his 2nd pass of the night against the Lions was intercepted, Popp was emboldened to make his QB switch.
Marsh threwn for his first CFL TD pass, run for his 1st TD on the ground in the 3rd quarter and most importantly restored hope for Als fans against the Lions, and maybe for the future if Anthony Calvillo cannot start against the Argos in the Labour Day Classic (albeit on a the Tuesday night after Labour Day this year).
Josh Neiswander was all smiles in the warmup before his first CFL start, but did not have the familiar face of Anthony Calvillo on the sidelines. And no one was smiling after an early interception and some miscues on defense and special teams gave the Lions an early 12-0 lead.
Then came a quick hook from GM and interim head coach Jim Popp and Neiswander was forced to watch his own backup and good friend Tanner Marsh throw his 1st CFL touchdown pass to SJ Green. Green tossed the ball into the stands to reward fans out outlasted heavy downpours, but then asked for the ball back---Marsh's souvenir 1st TD.
Marsh had brought hope to rain-soaked Als fans in that 2nd quarter throwing for a long gain to rookie Duron Carter, the son of recent Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Carter. Then Marsh threw to SJ Green on a 3rd down gamble for that first CFL TD and Green's 5th of the season.
In the 3rd Quarter, Marsh would run for his first CFL rushing TD.
In the 4th, the Lions appeared to get to the rookie out of Arkansas Tech. Korey Banks picked him off twice. Josh Bell had another easy pick when rookie receiver Daniel Moore fell down on a deep route. But Marsh and the Als kept fighting.
Marsh scrambled effectively for first downs when the O-line protection could hold on no longer. Tackle Michael Ola became the 4th O-line starter this season to fall because of injury. Verdun native Anthony Barrette, a former Concordia Stinger, had to step in to help fill the void.
Calvillo, the future Canadian Football Hall of Famer on the eve of his 41st birthday, was given the right to stay home, recovering from post-concussion headaches.
Heavy downpours alternated with periods of soft summer rain at Molson Stadium, but fans remained hopeful despite a 21-7 halftime lead for the Lions.
That faith was rewarded with a Jerome Messam TD run after Marsh scrambled for a 1st down.
As speculation swirls about the future of the Alouettes at quarterback, GM Jim Popp has reconfirmed to CJAD that even with the signing of former Heisman winner Troy Smith, he has still kept his negotiation list clutches on Tim Tebow who may be relieved of his duties by the Patriots and is not expected to be picked up by other NFL teams.
Former Alouette and Lion Davis Sanchez was on the sidelines visiting both benches. He's in town to visit with former teammate Matthieu Proulx's family, and travelling on to a wedding in Nova Scotia.