Stingers football claim their first win of the season
Where have I seen this story before?
Concordia Stingers at home against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or.
Stingers losing in the last minute of the game.
A packed stadium full of students and alumni taking in the game.
A last-second score to give the Stingers the win.
All moments reminiscent of last year’s Homecoming game where quarterback Adam Vance threw a pass to receiver James Tyrrell in the endzone with no time left on the clock to win.
This year, the heroics belong to first-year kicker Bradley James Santos who put up the winning 36-yard field goal to give the Stingers the walk-off win in a 37-35 result that gave the Stingers their first win of the season.
“Everything was silent around me,” said Santos. “I knew my team was around me and with me. The only thing I had to do was my job. We deserved that win. We know the other W’s are coming.”
The game wasn’t always that close though. Early on, the Stingers seemed to be in control. Vance and Tyrrell were connecting all game, and their chemistry was evident. Vance ended the game with 426 yards and three touchdowns. Tyrrell collected 11 passes for 176 yards with two touchdowns. Rookie Jeremy Murphy was right behind Tyrrell with 82 yards and six catches.
“I’ve felt good all season,” said Vance. “We’ve been playing good, but we’ve struggled in the red zone and we finally figured it out this game.”
“It’s nice to finally prove it,” said Tyrrell. “We’ve always known what we can do, and it’s a relief now that we’ve done it. Adam and I have a great connection, it was almost routine.”
Defence also seemed to click for the Stingers. Linebacker Sam Brodrique collected 7.5 tackles, Khadeem Pierre and Zamaad Gambari caught an interception each and the team forced three sacks.
At half, the Stingers were up 20-13. Two touchdowns later, the Stingers led by as much as 34-15.
Then Sherbrooke took control.
The Vert et Or are a hard-nose squad, and while they may not have the most talent on the field, they’ll hit you as hard as anyone. Every inch feels like a mile against them.
The packed crowd at the Stingers Stadium saw as much, as the Vert et Or nearly came back to beat the Stingers with a flurry of deep passes, strategic play calling, an onside kick and penalties. When Sherbrooke QB Zach Cloutier found his man in the endzone with 33 seconds on the clock, you could feel the air get sucked out of the crowd. The Vert et Or struggled on offence at times during the game, but found it in the fourth quarter, where they put up 20 points.
But the Stingers didn’t quit. With the game, and potentially the season, on the line, Adam Vance showed up big. The QB first found Murphy for a 31-yard gain. Then, Vance connected with Tyrrell for a short gain. Another completed pass to Vince Alessandrini later, and the Stingers were in field goal range. Santos stepped on the field, replacing an injured Andrew Stevens, and drilled the ball far through the uprights. The team stormed the field and tackled Santos as the Stingers manage yet another late-game win against Sherbrooke.
“I went and hid in the tent on the sideline,” laughed Vance. “I was too stressed! I couldn’t watch. I just heard screaming so I figured then that we must have made it.”
“I knew it was going in 100 per cent,” said Tyrrell. “After practice we’re always around the kickers and I saw the distance and knew he had that easy.”
You could see the relief that the win gave the team. The Stingers now improve to 1-3. Breaking through for that first victory saves the season and gives the team a chance to push for that elusive third playoff spot.
The Stingers are away next week where they’ll play the UDEM Carabins on Sept. 27.
It was hot as heck, half of my face burnt, looking like Harvey Dent, and yes I know I complained last game about how cold and wet it was, but is it too much to ask for normal weather?
Feature photo by Laurence B-D