There was both good and bad news coming out of Sherbrooke this past Saturday. The good news: the Stingers played their best game of this still-young season. The bad news: the effort meant absolutely nothing as the Vert et Or still managed to beat Concordia 24-14, in what was a close and exciting game from beginning to finish.
Although it may not be time for the Stingers to push the panic button just yet, it would be wise to show some concern after suffering their third loss in just as many games this season.
What’s heartbreaking about the defeat is the fact that the Stingers played a far better game than the Vert et Or. Concordia’s offence showed little to no signs of rust during the first half and Sherbrooke quarterback Jean-Philippe Shoiry’s passing game was significantly weaker than that of Stinger Rob Mackay.
The biggest problem for the Stingers, once again, was penalties. Not only did it cost them significant yardage throughout the game, it also led to the cancellation of a brilliant touchdown by Cory Watson. Watson’s run could have easily been the Stingers’ turning point, but because of a penalty, it turned into their swan song.
“We took too many selfish penalties and we made too many mistakes at the wrong time,” said Mackay, who completed 25 passes for the night. “We just shot ourselves in the foot.”
Despite the loss, it looked as though Concordia would coast towards a win very early in the game. The Stingers were in full control as Dan Rodrigues scored the game’s first touchdown following an excellent 27 yard pass by Mackay. However, a 28 yard field goal by Vert et Or kicker William Dion at the bottom of the first quarter narrowed the Stingers lead to only three.
From then on it remained an extremely close game. Dion added another field goal that tied things up on both ends. Ely Aramouni recovered the lead for the Stingers by scoring a touchdown off of another incredible 30 yard pass by Mackay. It looked as though the Stingers had Sherbrooke where it hurt. Cory Watson, recently named as one of the top talents for the 2010 CFL draft by TSN, scored a touchdown worthy of a play of the week, only to see it cancelled as a result of a holding penalty.
With the penalty still fresh in their minds, the Stingers allowed Sherbrooke to run away with two field goals and the lead going into the second half of the game.
The second half was much more of an uphill battle for the Stingers. Taking penalty after penalty, giving fumble after fumble, the team lacked the composure needed to come back for a win.
The defence managed to provide little to no coverage as Sherbrooke players remained wide open for Shoiry. The offence could not keep their hands on the ball, resulting in three fumbles – all recovered by the Vert et Or. By the end of the game Sherbrooke added another touchdown and a field goal. Mackay threw two interceptions and the Stingers, once again, went home defeated.
Although it’s hard to be in good spirits when you come so close, Mackay remains optimistic about the rest of the season.
“We’re getting better, and we’re only going to get better as the season moves along. We just need to hang on to the ball and make a few more big plays. I think we’re doing everything right, we’re just having a bit of bad luck right now, but we’ll turn the corner and start winning some football games.”
The Stingers will play their next game at Loyola Stadium on Sat. 26 against St. Francis Xavier in the annual Homecoming game. Kickoff is at 1:00 p.m.