After fighting for a playoff spot, following an 0-4 start to the regular season, the Concordia Stingers settled for fourth place in the Quebec league standings and a rematch of their season opener against the Laval Rouge et Or, in Sainte-Foy on Saturday. Of course, nothing comes easy when you’re playing one of the best teams in university football, and unfortunately for the Stingers, the Rouge et Or’s defence and offence were simply too much to handle from the opening kickoff to the final seconds of the game.
Concordia suffered setback after setback and lost to Laval by an embarrassing score of 63-1. The Rouge et Or advanced to the Dunsmore Cup final and will face the Carabins on Saturday.
The loss wasn’t laughable, at least not to the knowledgeable fans of Canadian university football. The Rouge et Or are simply too large, too intimidating and too talented to be measured up by any other team in the Quebec league. The only team that succeeded in beating the Rouge et Or this season is the very team they will face this weekend. Having nothing to lose following a mediocre season, all the Stingers had to do was put up a good, convincing fight, and they simply couldn’t get organized in time to do it.
It looked as though the Stingers were doomed to sink from the get-go. Concordia was playing in the Quebec University Football League semi-final without hatchback Kyle Smith, fullback Blair Yachetti, and Liam Mahoney, arguably the team’s hardest working wide receiver, and the holes left by these three players were incredibly apparent. Concordia’s first drive of the game proved to be a disastrous one. At 13:20 in the first, quarterback Rob Mackay threw an interception that would eventually lead to a Rouge et Or touchdown by Mathieu Picard. After that, the nerves kicked in from all sides and the mistakes kept rolling in for Concordia. By the end of the first quarter, Mackay had thrown two more interceptions and Laval added a field goal and two touchdowns.
Concordia’s nerves continued to be on display during the second quarter for the 10,309 fans who braved the winter-like cold. Although the Stingers defence showed some signs of life when Kamil Thompson-Hutchinson sacked Laval quarterback BenoÃ®t Groulx, the Rouge et Or offence simply could not be stopped. At the end of the first half, it was already 46-0.
Laval went much easier on Concordia during the second, but the Stingers could not catch a break on any strategy they executed. Even Rene Paredes could not complete what appeared to be a routine field goal from the Laval 29-yard line.
By the end of the game, Mackay had completed only 15 of his 35 attempted passes, and the team’s best rusher was Cedric Ferdinand with 55 yards. Laval showed so little mercy to the Stingers, they didn’t even dare to grant their opposition a team safety during the fourth quarter.
While many would consider this a disappointing season, there were some high points. Linebacker Cory Greenwood once again had an incredible year and led the Quebec league with 62 tackles. Mackay himself had a great season after missing the last year and a half with an injury. He managed to set, and break, both team and league records this year. Former QB Liam Mahoney has definitely attracted the attention of CFL scouts with his stellar play at a completely new position. Granted the health of this year’s injured players and the significantly shorter list of ineligible players, and the Stingers could come roaring back in 2010 and make a successful push for a Vanier Cup. Until then, they’ll have to be satisfied with the fact that incredible players were made out of a tumultuous season.