In hockey there are three periods, in Canadian football there are three downs, but someone might need to remind the Concordia Stingers that there are four quarters and it is almost impossible to win a game without playing all of them.
The no.6 ranked Stingers lost 24-21 to the no.4 ranked University of Montreal Carabins in the 19th annual Shrine Bowl in the pouring rain at Concordia Field on Saturday.
It was a tough and bitter defeat considering the battle for home field in the first round of the playoffs was at stake, as well as the Stingers holding onto the lead for the majority of the game only to see it slip away.
“We have not played well in one third quarter all year,” said Stingers head coach Gerry McGrath. “We were brutal in the third quarter. This is a game I thought we dominated in the first half. I thought we showed some fight and spunk coming back at the end and making a game of it, but we just came out asleep in the second half.”
The turning point of the game could have very well been early in the first quarter. The possession immediately after Warren Kean’s first field goal, with the Stingers up 4-0, Montreal quarterback Jonathan Jodoin dropped back for a pass and threw the ball in direction of wide receiver Gilbert Grenier. Concordia’s Darnell Danglade had the interception in sight, but collided with a teammate and the ball dropped incomplete. The Carabins capitalized on the second chance on the very next play, Jodoin found Olivier Pellerin for a 55 yard gain taking the ball all the way to the Concordia 2-yard line. The Carabins scored two plays later on a Joseph Mroue touchdown run to go up 7-4.
The Stingers had the ball for two-thirds of the first half, a little less than 21 minutes, and were not forced to punt. They only scored 14 points, however, having drives stopped in Montreal territory only to settle for two Kean field goals from 40 and 32 yards. Kean also opened the game with a rouge when he booted the opening kickoff deep in the end zone.
In the second half, there was a drastic change in time of possession. The Carabins had the ball for 18 minutes in the half, and outscored the Stingers 15-7 in the final 30 minutes.
The Stingers had a great chance to take the lead late in the first quarter. On second down, Stingers quarterback Scott Syvret threw an incomplete pass to Julius Adjei but was hit after the play, and the Stingers had a first down on the Montreal 9-yard line after a roughing the passer penalty. Syvret was sacked for a big loss on the very next play and the Stingers had to settle on Kean’s 32-yard game-tying field goal. Syvret finished the day 23-for-35 with a touchdown to Blake Butler and two interceptions.
The key offensive player for the Stingers, and Shrine Bowl MVP for Concordia, was fullback Mark Kang, who only had five catches in his previous five games, ran six times for 21 yards and caught nine passes for 90 yards. Nick Saikaley also had his best game of the season catching six passes for 80 yards.
The Concordia defence had a lot of trouble trying to stop Mroue, who has been one of the top running backs in the country all season, as he gained 134 yards on 26 carries and had two touchdowns, including the one that broke the Stingers back late in the fourth quarter to make the score 24-14. On that drive, the Stingers knew what was coming- lots of runs- but still couldn’t stop him.
Patrick Donovan, the leading tackler in Canada, added 5.5 tackles to his total. Nathan Agadzi had 9.5 tackles and Danglade had six tackles. Jason Manzano and William Miller split a sack. Josh MacDonald won Concordia’s Ted Elsby award for outstanding defensive lineman an award named after the former Alouette player.
“Mental errors have been killing us all year. We’ll just have to come out next game and play better,” Donovan said.
With the loss, it looks like Concordia will have to play a playoff game against these same Carabins on the road.
“I feel we’re a much better team then they are. We beat ourselves today,” said Donovan.
Daniel Mott had one catch on the day tying the Stingers single-season record for most catches with 35.
The Stingers dropped to no.7 in the country after the loss and travel to winless Mount Allison on Saturday. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Their last home game of the regular season is Oct.29 at 1:00p.m. against the McGill Redmen.