The Concordia Stingers are inching closer toward post-season play, as the team’s late-season resurgence was carried into their final home game of the season against the McGill Redmen. Concordia barely squeaked past McGill, winning by a score of 30-25.
The Stingers managed to grab a 21-point lead going into the second half, but the Redmen achieved an impressive rally that could easily have brought both teams into overtime. Thankfully, the Stingers closed the door on the end zone in the dying moments of the game.
In Concordia’s defence, it was the least they could do during a rusty final half.
“We continued to drive the ball well during the second half, we just couldn’t finish the drives. Defensively, we lost our composure a bit and that’s something we’re going to have to fix,” said head coach Gerry McGrath.
What saved Concordia later in the game were early mistakes made by the Redmen’s quarterback Jonathan Collin. After missing player after player with long passes, hatchback Kyle Smith intercepted one that would eventually lead to wide receiver Dan Rodriguez’s second touchdown of the season.
With McGill’s defence slowly regrouping during the second quarter, it was up to Robert Mackay to find wide open receivers, and that he did. Cory Watson caught an incredible 48 yard pass from his quarterback inside the end zone, extending his team’s lead by fourteen.
The second half proved to be much more difficult for the Stingers. Although the momentum was on Concordia’s side, McGill refused to bury their heads in the turf.
Sanchez Deschamps added a touchdown off a 24 yard pass by Mackay but after that, it was almost all McGill.
Collin was finally starting to look like a quarterback when he began to hit his targets, and Redmen slotback Charles-Antoine Sinotte scored his team’s first touchdown of the game. McGill’s offence didn’t stop there. After a blocked field goal by Paredes, McGill added another touchdown with only forty seconds left in the third quarter. With the Stingers opening the fourth with a Paredes blocked punt, McGill needed only forty seconds to reduce Concordia’s lead to a single touchdown.
Stingers fans were bolted to their seats late in the game as the home team had a chance to put the match away at first and goal. With Mahoney temporarily moving to quarterback, the wide receiver fumbled the ball attempting to cross into the end zone. McGill managed to recover, but could not finish off the drive. The Redmen were given another golden opportunity late in the game when Mackay threw an interception, but McGill failed to complete a third down conversion and the rally was halted for good.
Although the win is cause for celebration, the Stingers allowed the opposing team to come back from behind once again. This has happened all too often throughout the season, and it could mean the difference between grabbing that fourth and final playoff spot, or having long and regretful thoughts about what could have been. If the Stingers can’t conserve a comfortable lead throughout their final game of the season, they’ll be cleaning out their lockers sooner than later.
But for the moment, McGrath and his men are right where they want to be.
“I told the guys that we control our own destiny. If we win our last four games, we can be in the playoffs and there’s still a chance for third place. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
Concordia will play its final regular season game against the Bishop’s Gaiters this Saturday in Sherbrooke. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.