The Concordia Stingers started their 2005 season with a 33-25 win over the McGill Redmen Thursday night in the 37th Shaughnessy Cup in front of 2,813 fans at Molson Stadium. But the game was marred by uncharacteristic mistakes from the veteran team which made the final score closer than it should have been.
The Stingers committed five turnovers and had some undisciplined penalties in their third straight Shaughnessy Cup win, managing to fight back from their only deficit of the game after McGill’s Michael Samman converted a Concordia fumble on an eight yard touchdown run to make the score 25-22. Concordia regained the lead with 11 fourth-quarter points including an 11-yard fieldgoal by Warren Kean, his third of the night, which made the score 26-25. A one-yard touchdown run from Otis Armstrong put the final nail in the Redmen’s coffin.
“I’m a little taken aback and embarrassed by some of the things we did tonight,” said Stingers head coach and offensive coordinator Gerry McGrath. “We were undisciplined and took some selfish penalties.”
Concordia opened the scoring with six minutes remaining in the first quarter. Fullback Mark Kang ran the ball up the middle for a 15-yard gain. Then quarterback Scott Syvret found receiver Daniel Mott, who led the team with 10 catches for over 140 yards, on two consecutive plays. This set up his first of two touchdown passes to Nick Scissons who beat his defender to the corner of the end zone.
“The offense was fine,” said Syvret, who completed 23 of 35 passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. “I made a couple of bad reads which led to two of the interceptions, but we were moving the ball up and down the field. It was the first game of the season.Everybody makes mistakes and they’ll be fixed for the next one.”
The Stingers offense, which featured all the starters from the 2004 season moved the ball at will posting 445 yards including 146 rushing yards, something McGrath wanted to see more of this season. Kang led the way rushing-wise for the Stingers posting 86 yards on seven carries.
While the offense was stable, there were some questions about the defense which lost both 2004 Metras award-winner Troy Cunningham and President’s award winner Mickey Donovan along with defensive back Kelly Clahane.
But the defense quickly put any concerns to rest. Jason Manzano, a transfer from McGill, recorded two sacks in the first half. Linebacker Pat Donovan led the team with seven tackles including a huge stop on Samman on third down with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter and Concordia holding on to a slim one-point lead.
The secondary also stepped up, intercepting McGill quarterback Matt Connell twice. Mo Sidibe, who is touted as a first-round pick in the upcoming CFL draft, nabbed one, and Junior Bishop dashed McGill’s hopes for a last-second comeback when he intercepted Connell on the final play of the game and ran it back 65 yards before being tackled.
“We lost two guys, but you know what, we put Mickey’s brother Pat in and it’s the same thing,” McGrath said. “We got Jay Manzano who was the best defensive lineman in the country a couple of years ago before he played for us. McGill has a very good offense and I’m happy with the way we played them.”
The win moved the Stingers to a number-ten ranking in the country.