The Concordia Stingers football team took their first step towards the Vanier Cup last Saturday at Loyola Stadium. The MontrEal Carabins came out as though they wanted to avenge their previous regular-season loss, but in the end were humbled 35-8 in the QIFC’s semi-finals game.
MontrEal’s early aggressiveness was quickly stifled by Concordia’s sharp offence, led by quarterback Jon Bond.
“I think our coming-out and hurry-up strategy was a little too much for them,” Coach Gerry McGrath said. “They [Carabins] had a hard time keeping up with us early in the first half due to our no-huddle [offence].”
In the Stingers’ first ball possession, Bond connected with inside receiver Nick Scissons on three occasions for a first down.
The last pass was a 35-yard bomb captured by Scissons, landing the Stingers at the Carabins’ four-yard line. Linebacker Patrick Donovan was brought out to rumble over Montreal’s defence, earning Concordia an early 7-0 lead.
The Carabins’ defence moved quickly to stall the Stingers inside their red zone a few minutes later, forcing a field goal by kicker Warren Kean for a 10-0 Stinger advantage.
Despite early offensive drives, the Stingers sat back as the quarter wore on, but earned themselves a safety and a rouge to end the quarter with a 13-0 lead.
The Stingers came back onto the field with an impenetrable defence, led by an early tackle courtesy of linebacker Patrick Donovan.
MontrEal ceded an extra two points to Concordia to obtain better field position, but it did not help. In the following drive, the Stingers easily found themselves deep inside the Carabins’ zone and a 25-yard touchdown pass to Carlton O’Brien sealed the deal for a 22-0 lead.
The Stingers’ defence, which allowed a mere 49 offensive yards, broke down during the quarter, giving the Carabins too many opportunities to get close to the red zone.
However, that quickly changed when defenders Chris Jewell and Troy Cunningham tackled MontrEal pivot Jonathan Jodoin, allowing the Stingers to keep hold of their 22-0 lead at halftime.
The Blue and White came out for the second half looking for blood, and that translated into Bond getting sacked in the opening seconds of the quarter.
The Stingers did not appreciate these intimidation acts, and on the Carabins’ following ball possession, Rudy Hage forced a fumble that was recovered by Mickey Donovan. Bond, who collected an outstanding 382 passing yards throughout the game, tossed a few first downs before finally hooking up with O’Brien for a touchdown pass.
“I was ready for this kind of passing game all year,” Bond said. “I knew that without JM [Jean-Michel Paquette, injured running back] I was going to put a lot more on my shoulders. But the o-line played great and gave me a lot of time to pass.”
But it didn’t end there, and the Stingers notched another three points thanks to a solid Warren Kean field goal.
However, this was short-lived as the Carabins finally retaliated when Joseph Mroue dashed past the Stingers’ defence. A two-point conversion earned Montreal eight points on the scoreboard with less than three minutes remaining in the quarter. The Bee Boys quickly recollected and decided to rain on Montreal’s parade. Concordia marched right into enemy territory with less than a minute remaining and added another field goal to end the quarter with a 35-8 lead.
The two teams’ defensive lines came out looking tough in the fourth quarter. Stinger Troy Cunningham sacked pivot Simon Lemieux for a loss of 13 yards.
The Carabins got payback when linebacker Gilbert Lavigne sacked Bond. Those efforts resulted in nothing as both teams’ offences could not sneak into each other’s end zones.
The teams kept up this game of cat and mouse until the final seconds of the game. MontrEal landed at Concordia’s six-yard line following a lengthy offensive drive.
In the final play, pivot Jodoin attempted to throw the ball to receiver Olivier Pellerin but was batted away in the end zone, offering Concordia a 35-8 victory and a one-way ticket to the Dunsmore Cup game against the Universite de Laval’s Rouge et Or.
According to offensive linemen Alex Oliveira, the Stingers are up to the challenge.
“We had the best week of practice last week, and we’ll keep that up to prepare for Laval,” he said. “We love playing Laval, and they hate playing us because we hit them too hard. So we’re going to use that to our advantage.”
The teams will be facing off for the Dunsmore Cup at the CEPSUM in Ste. Foy on Saturday, 12:30 p.m.