The football season is over for the Concordia Stingers following a tough 10-6 loss to the McGill Redmen in the QIFC provincial title game last Saturday afternoon, before 6,789 fans at Percival Molson stadium.
Dubbed “The battle of Sherbrooke Street”, it was the first time that the two teams met in the Dunsmore Cup game and the Stingers hopeful journey towards the Vanier Cup got off to a good start in the early stages of the game.
On their first play from scrimmage, running back Jean-Michel Paquette picked up 49 yards on a huge rushing play which would have most likely resulted in a touchdown had he not been tackled by Redmen defensive back Felix-Antoine Martin.
However, the Stingers would turn over the ball a few plays later as quarterback Jon Bond was intercepted by Redmen defensive back Frederic Martin, not to be confused with his previously mentioned cousin, Felix-Antoine.
McGill regained possession of the ball at their own 29-yard line as pivot Josh Sommerfeldt came onto the field for his first offensive series and he was promptly picked off by Concordia safety David Aiken, but the Stingers were unable to score.
Sommerfeldt made sure that his next pass would be on target and it was, finding receiver Alex Martin, who happens to be the older brother of Frederic and his 85-yard touchdown reception gave the Redmen an early 7-0 lead.
The major would be the only touchdown in the game. The Redmen added another three points on their next drive, with an 11-yard field goal.
Concordia had a golden opportunity to narrow the gap on the last play of the quarter when Bond found a wide open Darrell Wood in the end zone, but Wood was unable to make the catch. They would reduce the deficit late in the half though, with a 38-yard field goal by Simon Rodgers.
The teams left the field for halftime, with McGill leading 10-3. It could have easily been 13-3, but Pillai missed a 20-yard kick, hitting one of the uprights with 26 seconds to go in the half.
The Stingers continued to chip away at the Redmen lead near the midway point of the third quarter as Rodgers continued his solid kicking, splitting the uprights with a 37-yard field goal, capping off a ten-play drive.
It would be the last scoring play as the defensive units from both teams would contain their offensive counterparts for the remainder of the game.
With Concordia starting a crucial drive with under three minutes to go in the fourth quarter on their 41-yard line, it was crunch time.
On first down, Bond went to the air, almost connecting with receiver Richard Martin, but the ball grazed his fingertips.
On third down and the season on the line, Bond was picked off by Frederic Martin, whose second interception of the game gave the ball to the McGill.
The Stingers got one more kick at the can after their stingy defence successfully prevented the Redmen from burning the balance of the time remaining on the scoreboard.
However, Bond was intercepted yet again, this time by Felix-Antoine Martin.
Stinger receiver Alexis Charpentier forced a fumble but Martin recovered the ball that he dropped, thus securing the Dunsmore Cup for the Redmen.
Stinger Coach Gerry McGrath, although disappointed with the loss, would not single out any of his players in terms of responsibility for the loss. “It’s a team game, with 42 players and 10 coaches, so it’s all of our faults.”
Linebacker Graeme Burns, who has been a key player on Concordia’s defensive unit for five seasons, acknowledged that last drive heroics are hard to come by.
“You cannot depend on your last drive of the game. You have to score points throughout the entire game.” Burns finished the game with four tackles in what was his last contest.
Concordia receiver Richard Martin acknowledged his team’s struggles on offence. “There were times we could have done something on offence, but we had too many dropped balls and missed assignments.” He was simple with his words to describe how close the ball was to being in his hands on that crucial passing play. “So close. I had it on my fingertips but I’ve got to make those plays.”
The Stingers will have to wait until next year for another shot at Canadian university football glory as they finish the year with 5-5. The Redmen meanwhile, will host next week’s Mitchell Bowl game next Saturday afternoon versus the Saskatchewan Huskies.