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Growing pain stunt stingers in season opener

by Archives September 8, 2009

If last year’s Stingers came close to beating Quebec’s best university football team, then this year’s edition did nothing of the sort as the Laval Rouge et Or pummelled Concordia en route to a 51-0 victory at PEPS Stadium on Sunday.

The loss came with the help of a defence that failed to produce coverage when it mattered most and an offence that never managed to gain any significant yardage throughout the entire game. As a result, Concordia was humiliated in front of thousands of Rouge et Or fans.

Of course, it’s difficult to judge a team when it’s forced to face Laval in its season opener. The Rouge et Or are a stronger, larger and more experienced team, and the younger Stingers were simply no match for them or their fans.

“Due to some circumstances we’re a little younger than we wanted to be. I knew today was going to be a tough game. I thought they hung together and they did everything they could. Just a lot of young guys making a lot of mistakes,” said head coach Gerry McGrath.

Those mistakes included ten penalties which cost the team a whopping 136 yards. When you’re facing a team like Laval, the last thing you want to do is move back, but that’s exactly what the Stingers did. Concordia’s defence also displayed weak coverage of the pocket which resulted in three QB sacks. Add three Laval interceptions that gave them 138 yards and you’ve got your explanation for the score.

However, no one expected that Concordia would be doomed early in the game. The Stingers defence actually played a strong first quarter, limiting Laval’s offence to only three first downs.

The system crumbled when Rouge et Or got on the board during the second quarter after quarterback Benoit Groulx completed a 14 yard pass to Bruno Prud’homme. After that, the Stingers went absolutely nowhere both offensively and on defence.

As for Rob Mackay, the quarterback’s return was a shaky one. Although he displayed a good arm, Mackay only completed 17 of 39 attempted passes, and threw three interceptions. He also had trouble moving around in the pocket, resulting in three Laval sacks. But miracles shouldn’t have been expected of Mackay in his first start in a year and a half.

“He was a little slow on some of his reads and there were some other things he missed, but we’ve got to protect him better. If he gets some time, he’s going to make things happen. As time goes on, he’ll be fine”, said McGrath.

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