Home Sports Fierce rally ends in heartbreak

Fierce rally ends in heartbreak

By Archives November 11, 2008

There aren’t many teams in the Quebec league that could say they almost beat the Laval Rouge et Or, but the Concordia Stingers are definitely one of them. Unfortunately, almost doesn’t cut it in football.
On Sunday, wide receiver Dan Rodrigues and defensive end Thomas Kuchiran each scored a touchdown during foruth quarter of the Dunsmore Cup final, bringing a Stingers victory within reach, but an intercepted pass thrown by quarterback Liam Mahoney into the end zone shattered the team’s hopes of coming back from behind, giving Laval a 28-17 victory and a CIS championship berth.
“I’m very proud of how our team played today. They played great. We really battled back, and we were very resourceful on defence. We really kept finding ways to hang around,” said head coach Gerry McGrath following the game.
Although Concordia managed to play efficiently throughout, Mahoney had an inconsistent passing game, completing only 21 of 42 passes, most of those in the second half. He also threw two interceptions, the last of which cost the Stingers any chance of completing the comeback.
The opening half of the match produced little offence thanks to the brilliant play by both teams’ defences. Rouge et Or defensive lineman Marc Antoine Fortin got his home crowd roaring early with a powerful sack on Liam Mahoney.
After Laval’s offence failed to reach the end zone from their 30-yard line, kicker Christopher Milo opened the scoring with a field goal at 8:17 in the first quarter.
The Stingers managed to tie the game up during the second quarter with a 42-yard field goal by Rene Paredes following yet another sack at Mahoney’s expense. With less than 20 minutes played in the game, the Stingers quarterback had already been sacked four times. Milo managed to add another field goal to the scoreboard, giving Laval a 6-3 lead at the half.
Laval has been known to step up its play during the final halves of their games, and Sunday was no different. Although Concordia’s defence managed to keep the Rouge et Or at bay throughout most of the third quarter, Laval running back Sébastien Lévesque managed to run 51 yards past an unusually scattered defence, putting Laval up by 10.
Lévesque scored his second touchdown just seconds into the final quarter immediately after the Stingers were dealt a minor blow when Liam Mahoney was sidelined with a hand injury. After a brief appearance by back-up quarterback Sheldon Moore, Mahoney came back to finish the game.
Concordia managed to produce some exciting defensive play when Kuchiran ran a Laval fumble back 26 yards to score his team’s first touchdown. The Laval fans who packed PEPS Stadium were almost completely silenced with three minutes left to play in the game when Rodrigues scored a touchdown off a 15-yard pass from Mahoney.
Running back Michael Donnelly brought the 10,664 spectators to the edge of their seats when he ran a miraculous 40 yards after a screen pass, bringing the Stingers to Laval’s 15-yard line and giving them the chance to take the lead for the first time in the game.
However any hope of a successful comeback disappeared when Laval defensive back Alex Surprennant intercepted a potential touchdown pass by Mahoney, after which Lévesque scored his third touchdown of the game off an incredible 90-yard run to eliminate any doubt.
The loss brought the Stingers’ strong season to a heartbreaking end. What was most painful for the players was how close they came to advancing to next week’s Uteck Bowl.
“It kills me. When you get so close, and it gets ripped out of you, it’s really tough to deal with,” said linebacker Ricky Zieba, who compiled six tackles on Sunday. “We fought hard until the end of the game, but we just couldn’t pull it off.”
Defensive halfback Darnell Danglade, linebacker Nathan Agadzi, offensive lineman Connor Smith and receiver Blake Butler all played their final game with the Stingers on Sunday. Agadzi said seeing the game come to an end was difficult.
“I really enjoyed myself, but times are done now. I loved playing with my team, and next year, hopefully, we’ll do a lot better,” Agadzi said. “You have to start strong from training camp and take it from there and everything should fall into place. Other than that, we should be happy and enjoy this.”
The Stingers returned to their locker room in a solemn mood, some even had tears in their eyes, but they can take comfort in the fact that they battled until the end, and can build on that when the 2009 season arrives.