Play execution was the name of the game last Saturday as the Concordia Stingers proved to the Laval Rouge et Or that their victory on Oct. 12 was no stroke of luck.
In the QIFC semi-finals game that was held in Quebec City last Saturday, the Stingers came onto the PEPS Stadium field with gutsy plays and sharp defensive coverage to eliminate the Rouge et Or by a 29-21 win.
The Stingers’ offence looked in tiptop shape, led by quarterback Jon Bond who hooked up with his receivers 13 times for 139 yards. The Stingers’ backfield had no trouble entering the Laval red zone in their first ball possession, but was unable to execute.
A Concordia turnover at their own 27-yard line proved to be costly one minute later when Laval quarterback Michel Bertrand hooked up with receiver Jean Francois Tremblay in the end zone, opening the scoring with a 7-0 lead.
That would be the only time Laval would lead in the game however, because Concordia pulled out the big guns in the second quarter, evening out the score to 7-all following a Darrell Wood 16-yard touchdown.
The 10,279 Concordia-hostile fans in attendance were shouting their discontentment towards the Stingers’ bench, who did not let the crowd affect them.
Defence handled the Laval offensive line by sticking like Velcro to Laval running back Dimitri Kiernan.
“We had a scheme today where we took away Dimitri Kiernan.from the play almost every chance we had,” said linebacker Graeme Burns, who had one interception.
“When a quarterback’s first read is taken away, he has to look to a second or third read.that makes him [quarterback] confused and allows us to get better coverage, and that’s what happened: we got better coverage, we were able to get on our men.”
Laval’s defence managed to snap back to life whenever the visiting team got too close, forcing a field goal for a 10-7 ConU lead with 2:06 remaining.
Concordia increased their lead by three points on the final play of the half when kicker Simon Rodgers successfully completed a 34-yard field goal.
Concordia and Laval played yo-yo with the ball throughout the third quarter.
Bond showboated his strength on passing when he threw a long bomb to receiver Alain Rousseau. The winning play of that drive showed the teamwork between the pivot and Rousseau when Bond dropped back into the pocket with the ball.
Stunned by Laval’s coverage, Bond pointed out a spot in the end zone to Rousseau, to which the receiver ran to and caught the ball to score Concordia’s third major.
Running back Jean Michel Paquette was in fine form in this game, sidestepping Laval’s defensive line and rushing 34 times for a total gain of 209 yards.
“Jean-Michel played the way Jean-Michel can play,” Coach Gerry McGrath said.
“We preserved him all year, because in other years we used him too much early and then he’s hurt; he’s not a big guy. This year we kept him healthy until the end, and today we turned him loose.”
Paquette’s stats included an 11-yard run that secured the home team’s lead to 27-8. Laval persevered however. Taking the snap at their own 54-yard line, Bertrand threw a 57-yard pass to P Ianniciello, who in turn proceeded to run the ball into the zone for seven extra points on the scoreboard.
After allowing Concordia a safety, which increased the lead to 29-15, Laval’s defence tightened up and forced a punt, which resulted in the game’s biggest fluke play
The ball grazed Concordia punter Mike Renaud’s fingers following the snap, which caused a mad dash towards the ball by both teams.
Stinger Mike Lynch was the first to recover the ball, who then kicked the ball to clear the end zone and placed the Concordia defence on their own 40-yard line.
Seemingly satisfied with their lead, the Stingers relaxed slightly in the fourth quarter, allowing their red zone to be entered by the Rouge et Or backfield which did not cause much damage.
The Laval squad refused to go down easily and Tremblay threw a 29-yard pass to Bertrand, bringing the score 29-21.
Sadly enough for the Rouge et Or team, it was too little too late. Being eliminated in the semi-finals for the first time since 1997, the Laval squad gave the Bee Boys a one-way ticket to the Dunsmore Cup against McGill.
“We kind of looked past them last game,” said Bond referring to their last game against the Redmen. “We didn’t really focus on them, didn’t really take this seriously. This time, we’ll be a different team that’ll show up for this game.”