Manziel sees first CFL action in Argos 36-18 exhibition win over Ticats

HAMILTON — It was a decent first showing for Johnny Football.

Johnny Manziel completed 9-of-12 passes in his first appearance with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats but it was the Toronto Argonauts who cruised to the easy 36-18 victory at Tim Hortons Field in the exhibition opener for both teams.

Manziel, 25, certainly didn’t look out of place but faced a Toronto defence minus most of its starters and Hamilton was very conservative in its play-calling. The six-foot, 210-pound Texan, who signed with the Ticats two weeks ago, directed five drives (22 plays) and was especially effective throwing on the run.

But Hamilton, which played most of its starters, surrendered seven first-half turnovers (two interceptions, three fumbles, two on downs).

The former Heisman Trophy winner entered the game late in the first half and played much of the third quarter. Manziel was solid on his final possession, engineering a 12-play, 62-yard drive that took 7:27 off the clock although he was flagged for a 22-yard intentional grounding penalty.

Manziel threw for 80 yards and ran twice for 10 yards. But Hamilton’s biggest play was Frankie Williams’ 73-yard punt return TD to end the third, cutting Toronto’s lead to 33-13.

Manziel saw his first action since being released by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns on Mar. 11, 2016. The Browns took the ‘12 Heisman Trophy winner in the first round, No. 22 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft.

Manziel played in 14 games but was 2-6 in eight career starts. He completed 147-of-258 passes (57 per cent) with the Browns for 1,675 yards with seven TDs and seven interceptions while rushing 46 times for 259 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and one touchdown.

Manziel entered the game with 3:38 remaining in the opening half with Hamilton on its 19-yard line trailing 13-6. His first pass was a nine-yard completion to Jalen Saunders, then Manziel hit Felix Faubert-Lussier on consecutive strikes before being sacked by Jonathan Dowling on third and two, giving Toronto the ball at the Ticats 49-yard line.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson took advantage, hitting Brandon Burks on a 27-yard touchdown pass at 14:09 to put Toronto ahead 20-6.

On Manziel’s second possession, he was the victim of a bad snap that resulted in an incompletion. On second down, he threw a completion to Rashad Lawrence, but Toronto recovered his fumble, setting up Bethel-Thompson’s one-yard TD run at 14:49, giving Toronto a 26-6 advantage.

Manziel remained under centre on Hamilton’s next possession. After a Mercer Timmis run, Manziel ended the half with an eight-yard scamper. He was 4-of-5 passing for 35 yards.

Manziel opened the second half with an incompletion on his first attempt before connecting with Harvey Binford on a six-yard completion.

Bethel-Thompson had a solid first half, completing 9-of-11 passes for 122 yards and two TDs while running for another to stake Toronto to a 26-6 advantage.

Chandler Worthy and James Franklin had Toronto’s other touchdowns. Ronnie Pfeffer kicked three converts while Swayze Waters booted three field goals.

Brandon Banks scored Hamilton’s other touchdown while Lirim Hajrullahu booted a field goal and convert. The other points came on a safety.

Incumbent Jeremiah Masoli started for Hamilton and finished 8-of-13 passing for 115 yards with a TD and two interceptions. Masoli’s nine-yard touchdown pass to Banks at 6:42 of the second cut Toronto’s lead to 13-6.

Toronto surged to a 13-0 lead on Waters field goals of 42 and 33 yards — the latter set up by Trumaine Johnson’s 50-yard interception return — and Bethel-Thompson’s three-yard TD strike to Worthy.

Just Posted

Alberta government to partially backstop new $2 billion dollar bitumen upgrader

CALGARY — The Alberta government is providing a $440 million loan guarantee… Continue reading

Local artists are in the running for Alberta Country Music Awards, held Sunday in Red Deer

Tickets are available to the ceremony at the Sheraton hotel

RCMP seeking suspect in school bus collision and car jacking

Two children suffered minor injuries in collision on Tuesday near Springbrook around 8 a.m.

Smaller, more affordable, lots wanted in Red Deer’s Evergreen neighbourhood

Council approves first reading of requested lot-size changes

Political shifts, sales slump cast shadow over gun industry

When gunmakers and dealers gather this week in Las Vegas for the… Continue reading

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple… Continue reading

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

Rugby Canada Hall of Fame a family affair for hard-nosed forward Hans de Goede

Hans de Goede, a hard-nosed lock forward who captained Canada at the… Continue reading

5 burning questions ahead of the Oscar nominations

NEW YORK — The Oscars still don’t have a host, but on… Continue reading

‘Bao,’ ‘Animal Behaviour,’ ‘Weekends’ among Canadian Oscar nominees

LOS ANGELES — Several Canadians have landed Oscar nominations. The category for… Continue reading

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

Opinion: Faith in immigration must be preserved

Canada has a deserved reputation for extending its arms to newcomers, but… Continue reading

Most Read