The Stingers football team have made the playoffs. But after dropping their final game of the season to the Bishop Gaiters by a score of 38-40, they must now face the best team in the Quebec league, the Laval Rouge et Or, on the road in Quebec City, next week.
Although Laval is a ruthless opponent, the Stingers are capable of an upset. Unfortunately, it was the Gaiters who surprised Concordia in Lennoxville on Saturday.
Despite having golden opportunities to put the game away throughout, Concordia failed to capitalize on its chances and allowed Bishop to steal the win during the dying moments of the match. That has been a huge problem for the Stingers all season long, and there is no room for close calls when you’re trying to make the Dunsmore Cup final.
The first quarter gave little excitement to the home crowd and the handful of Stingers fans who made the two-hour trip. Both teams struggled to finish off their drives, while the defence allowed little room for wide open men.
The offence really started rolling during the second quarter. Bishop wasted no time and scored a touchdown 39 seconds in. Concordia responded four minutes later. After only two plays, wide receiver Cory Watson received a 17 yard pass from quarterback Robert Mackay, in order to bring the Stingers back into the lead. After that, mistakes began rolling in from all sides for Concordia. With less than four minutes to go in the first half, Mackay attempted to get rid of the ball in order to avoid the oncoming blitz, but he threw it into the wrong hands. Bishop took advantage of the turn-over, moving back into a five point lead with a touchdown by Junior Turner. The madness didn’t end there, but this time, it worked in Concordia’s favour. Mackay made up for his mistake, with an incredible 65-yard pass to Cory Watson for his second touchdown of the game. The Gaiters rounded out second half scoring when a hesitant Mackay threw a second interception on only the first play of the drive. Bishop quarterback Jesse Andrews completed a five-yard pass to Shawn Gore for a touchdown, and the Gaiters went into the second with a slight three point lead over the Stingers.
Things didn’t begin well for Concordia during the final leg of the game. Mackay threw a pass meant for Liam Mahoney to Bishop’s Zak Buis, who returned it to the end zone for a touchdown.
Once again, both teams went back and forth with the scoring. Stingers fullback Blair Yachetti scored his team’s third touchdown at third and goal. Both teams were tied at 29 following a 15 yard field goal. With that, the fourth quarter proved to be a nail-biter for both the athletes and the fans.
The weather most likely played a huge role in deciding the winner of this game. With the Stingers punting against the strong winds, the Gaiters were given the opportunity to start their drives with great field position with little to no effort. Nevertheless, the Stingers did manage to score again when wide receiver Ely Aramouni received a 23 yard pass from Mackay to score the touchdown. With the clock ticking, the Stingers were far from holding a comfortable lead. Concordia punter David Ionita could not beat the gusting winds, resulting in a horrible 19 yard punt. Facing tremendous pressure at first and goal, the Stingers defence could not stop Andrews from finding an opening into the end zone. The rest is history.
The Stingers were able to breathe a sigh of relief as both McGill and Sherbrooke were knocked out of post-season play with their respective losses. However, they’ll have to work on their enormous mistakes if they want the chance to beat the Rouge et Or. Although the game was an extremely close one, it could have been a much easier one to put away without the interceptions and shoddy defence.
Concordia will face Laval this Saturday at the PEPS Stadium in Quebec City. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m.