The Concordia Stingers’ playoff hopes were shattered in a big way by the top-ranked Laval Rouge et Or. On Saturday, Laval laid their 16th straight win over the Stingers with a 62-7 thrashing.
The Stingers kept the game competitive for most of the first half, but turnovers and the inability to stop Laval’s running game allowed Quebec’s top team to run away with the game. Laval gained 322 total rushing yards with the efforts of running backs Pascal Lochard and Guillaume G. Bourassa. Lochard gained 193 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns, while Bourassa added 121 yards on 16 carries.
The game stayed relatively close due to the Concordia defence forcing some big turnovers in the first half. With the score already 16-0 in Laval’s favour, Nicholas Arsenault-Hum came up with a huge interception off Laval quarterback Bruno Prud’homme. Arsenault-Hum returned it to the Laval 36.
Concordia went on to score on a two-yard option pitch to Daniel Rodrigues.
The Stingers still found themselves down by 16 before forcing a Laval fumble and again taking over with good field position. However, on first down from the Laval 11-yard line, Stingers quarterback Terrance Morsink threw an ill-advised pass for the momentum-killing interception.
“If I hadn’t thrown that pick, it might have been a different game,” said Morsink. He has been starting quarterback for Concordia all season since Robert Mackay suffered a concussion in the season opener.
The game was never close from that point on, as Laval went on to score 36 second-half points to end the Stingers’ roller-coaster season.
Considering that the Stingers were with a second-year backup quarterback for most of the season, it’s quite impressive that they remained in the playoff hunt until the final game of the season. But the competitor in Morsink refused to call the season a success.
“I hate to lose,” said Morsink. “I wanted to make the playoffs, so I’m not satisfied.”
Stingers’ coach Gerry McGrath was disappointed with missing the playoffs this season. It is the first time since 2000 that the Stingers will miss the playoffs.
“I’m embarrassed,” said McGrath. “But if you’d have told me at the beginning of the season that with so many young players and Mackay out for the season, that we’d be in the playoff hunt in the last game of the season, I’d have taken that.”
The Stingers will now look ahead to next season where they’ll lose some key players like Mackay and possibly their best offensive weapon in Liam Mahoney, who is eligible for the CFL draft. However, the experience gained by their young players this year, along with the development of Morsink should help them. Morsink showed some good flashes this year and if he’s the starter next year, he should be a better player.
Morsink has to work on his decision-making and his ball security. In his season, he threw eight touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Those mistakes happen with inexperience, so we’ll see how Morsink learns from that.
Cornerback Nathan Taylor is optimistic about next season, pointing out that many players are returning.
“With all the guys we have coming back, we should be a much better team next year. There are some key guys leaving like Alexandre Turp (defensive tackle) and Kamil Thompson-Hutchinson (defensive end), but our whole secondary is back.”
There is talent on this team and adding a few key pieces should propel the Stingers back to the playoffs. The young Stingers will also be more mature and that may be the biggest factor in the end.