Despite the loss, the Stingers offence shows a lot of potential for the upcoming season
The Concordia Stingers football team lost their season opener 37-19 against the Université de Montréal Carabins at Concordia Stadium Friday night. Despite the loss, head coach Mickey Donovan said he saw a lot of potential in the way his offence battled hard and his defence limited the Montréal attack.
“The commitment on not giving up and playing all 60 minutes was a great sign,” he said.
The Stingers outscored the Carabins 13-0 in the fourth quarter, despite being down 37-6 after three quarters. Starting quarterback Trenton Miller was also pleased with his offence’s determination in the final quarter.
“I think the most important thing was the guys fighting for four quarters,” he said. “I don’t think we would have fought like this last year.” The Stingers virtually gave up by the fourth quarter last season in a 59-3 blowout against the Carabins.
The game started off ideally for the Stingers. The Carabins failed to get a first down on their opening drive, and the Stingers defence stopped them on a third-and-short play. This defensive stop seemed to motivate the Stingers, knowing this was the start they needed against last year’s best offence in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) conference.
Yet, despite starting with the ball at Montréal’s 16-yard line, the Stingers offence failed to find the end zone on the drive. Instead, kicker Andrew Stevens scored the opening three points with a field goal.
The Carabins stormed back on the next drive, scoring a touchdown with an 18-yard pass to receiver Kevin Kaya from quarterback Samuel Caron.
Concordia quickly gave the ball back to Montréal with a three-and-out on their next possession. The Carabins continued pounding on the Stingers with a seven-play, 54-yard drive capped off by a 22-yard touchdown reception by receiver Raphael Major-Dagenais. Ten minutes into the game, and the Stingers were down 14-3.
The rest of the first half lacked any efficient offence from either side, with the Stingers conceding a safety and the teams trading field goals. The Carabins led 19-6 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Carabins continued to dominate. After the Stingers gave up another safety to start the third quarter, Caron found receiver Carabins Régis Cibasu for a 10-yard touchdown strike.
With three minutes remaining in the quarter and the score 30-6, the Carabins lined up for a field goal at the Stingers’ 14-yard line. But they faked it, with Major-Dagenais running it in for a touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Miller found his favourite receiver targets from last year in Vincent Alessandrini and Yanic Lessard. Alessandrini had two catches of over 20 yards each to put the Stingers in the red zone early in the fourth quarter.
Miller spoke highly of his receivers: “It’s easy to find a good connection with them when they’re that athletic, doing their routes and knowing their assignments.”
A penalty put the ball at the Carabins’ one-yard line, and running back Jean-Guy Rimpel punched it in for Concordia’s first touchdown of the season with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
After a solid stop by the Stingers defence, Miller only needed a 26-yard pass to Lessard and a 46-yard bomb to receiver James Tyrrell to put the Stingers right back at the one-yard line. Rimpel found the end zone on the next play for his second touchdown. Concordia made it 37-19, and no one scored for the final six minutes of play.
Coach Donovan described his team’s performance in the second half as night and day compared to the first half .
“There were less mental mistakes in the second half,” he said. “(The offence) was great. I was pleased with that.”
One player who made a big impact was Stingers receiver Jarryd Taylor. Last season, as a rookie, he only had 12 catches for 164 yards, but he had a breakthrough performance against the Carabins on Friday. He caught five passes for a game-high 112 yards, including a 52-yard reception in the second quarter. All of his catches led to a first down.
“He’s a great football player and has a lot of potential,” the head coach said. “He comes and works hard everyday.”
Taylor wouldn’t speak about his performance after the game, saying he doesn’t like to talk about himself. He did add, however, that the rest of the league should watch out for the Stingers offence, given that they scored 19 points and had 335 total yards against last year’s best defence.
“I’m proud of what we did, I’m proud of how we finished and I’m proud of how we kept fighting,” Taylor said.