The Concordia Stingers proved themselves an all-around solid football team last Saturday at McGill Stadium, as they snagged the 17th Annual Shrine Bowl away from the McGill Redmen with a 26-9 victory.
Having to play without the services of such star players as running back Jean-Michel Paquette and linebacker Patrick Donovan, the Stingers managed to adapt their playing style and rallied from a flat start to earn themselves a 6-1 record.
The Stingers struggled to contain the Redmen offence, as the latter jumped out of the gates early in the first quarter. The home team’s offensive line pushed further down the field, allowing kicker Anand Pillai to set up for a 44-yard field goal attempt.
As the ball fell short from the uprights, so did McGill’s performance. Whereas Concordia’s defence easily roughed up their opponents, the offensive line was unable to capitalize on easy opportunities. The quarter ended on an exciting note as the Maroon and Gold slipped into the home team’s red zone, but had to settle for an easy 15-yard field goal.
The Stingers came out on the field for the second quarter looking rather sluggish, unable to get past a soft Redmen defensive line. However, the Bee Boys’ defence tightened up during the quarter, allowing great defensive plays such as Troy Cunningham’s two deflected passes before halftime.
Finally seizing an opportunity, the Stingers woke up on offence in the last five minutes of the second quarter as pivot Jon Bond passed the ball 13 yards to receiver Daniel Mott, who was tackled inches from the goal line. Linebacker Chris Jewell easily pushed through to the end zone in the following play for a 10-0 Concordia lead.
The Redmen would not take this situation lying down, and quickly paved their way to their opponents’ side of the field minutes later. Unfortunately for them, the Stingers’ defensive line kept up the pressure, forcing Pillai into a field goal situation and ending the half with a 10-3 Stinger lead.
Since this game was still up for the taking, both teams came back onto the field hungry for a win. The Redmen were the first to open up the scoring in the quarter as Pillai kicked a 24-yard field goal. The Stingers appeared unable to keep a hold on the ball for a few plays, but the defence was able to keep them ahead in the game.
Finally, in the third quarter’s last minute, Bond threw a 17-yard pass to Parnell Adam, who was pushed out of bounds at the McGill three-yard line. In the following play, Concordia was penalized for holding, sending them back to the 13-yard line. However, Bond managed to connect with receiver Carleton O’Brien for a 13-yard touchdown pass, offering his team a 17-3 lead by quarter’s end.
“We started out and made a few mistakes here and there. We were good, our game plan was perfect, but it was just our execution that was lacking,” Bond said. “But we picked it up after halftime when we knew we just had to step up.”
The relatively soft McGill offence had a short spurt of action early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Philippe Cantin connected with wide receiver Stefan Kalenchuk for a flawless 36-yard pass, landing on Concordia’s 10-yard line.
However, the Stingers’ defence kept the Redmen away from their end zone, forcing their opponents’ third field goal of the game. The Maroon and Gold exploded offensively when Bond, who collected 273 yards in the game, connected with receiver Brad Remus for an outstanding 60-yard touchdown pass for a 24-9 lead.
Following this sudden burst by their opponents, McGill seemingly gave up on the game, giving up a team safety and slowing down offensively. The Stingers’ defence, led by Mickey Donovan’s 11 total tackles, kept the impotent Redmen away and kept their team’s 26-9 Shrine Bowl victory intact. Donovan attributed his performance due to having been looked at by a scout from the Cleveland Browns.
“He looked at some game tapes, and said that I needed to fly around the field a bit more,” Donvan said.
“It made me realize that I wasn’t playing as hard as I could, and I know that today I hustled every play. So being checked out by a pro scout was a big motivation.”
Coach Gerry McGrath feels that his team had not adjusted completely to playing without key players, which affected the outcome of the game.
“Us missing Jean-Michel Paquette would be like Laval missing (quarterback) Mathieu Bertrand,” McGrath said.
“They’re two top players in the country, and when you miss a top player on your team, you’re not quite the same.
“I think part of today’s problem is that we have to adjust to not having them.”