The Stingers sent a crowd full of maroon-and-gold-clad fans home from Concordia Stadium with a sour taste in their mouths last Saturday, after they lost their home opener to the MontrÃ©al Carabins 29-8.
Playing without star quarterback Robert Mackay, who was out with an undisclosed injury, the Stingers and new starter Terrance Morsink struggled to get moving on offence, managing just a single point in the first three quarters of play.
The Carabins got started early and took advantage of two Concordia facemask penalties to march down the field late in the first, scoring the game’s opening points on a 31-yard pass to a wide-open Frank Bruno. Two field goals and a rouge had MontrÃ©al up 14-1 as the fourth quarter began, leaving the hometown fans to wonder what was going on.
The worries were temporarily put to rest just minutes into the fourth quarter, when Morsink connected beautifully with receiver Sanchez Deschamps on a 55-yard pass that was also that drive’s first play. That play was the longest of the game for either team, and accounted for almost 20 per cent of the Stingers’ total output for the game.
Concordia was kept in the game for the most part thanks to a defence that performed well in clutch situations, despite giving up some major yardage on the ground. Linebacker Alex Lemire made a huge play for Concordia by forcing MontrÃ©al running back Rotrand Sene to fumble in the endzone and preventing MontrÃ©al from extending their lead.
Despite fielding a mostly young and inexperienced team, the Stingers were able to stay in the game against the second-ranked Carabins. The inexperience seemed to show as the Stingers committed many penalties that extended MontrÃ©al drives. Even with everything going against them, Concordia still found themselves down by just six points late in the game as MontrÃ©al prepared to punt.
Cornerback Kris Robertson fielded the punt in the endzone, and then made some moves to try and prevent MontrÃ©al from adding another point from a rouge. After a bruising hit by MontrÃ©al cornerback Julien Hamel, the ball poked loose and was recovered by MontrÃ©al, giving the Carabins the ball at the four-yard line and ending all hopes of a Concordia comeback.
Head coach Gerry McGrath was not disappointed at all in Robertson’s decision to run the ball out as opposed to taking a knee, saying it was the right call. “When you run the ball out of the endzone you’re guaranteed to have it placed at the 20-yard line… we didn’t want to give up the point.” The rouge would’ve given MontrÃ©al a seven-point lead and a potential overtime battle if Concordia was able to score again.
After the fumble, Sene added to his phenomenal game (177 yards on the ground) by punching the ball in for the touchdown. On Concordia’s next drive, they turned the ball over yet again as quarterback Morsink’s arm was drilled mid-throwing motion, with Garl Duclervil scooping it up and running it into the endzone, sealing Concordia’s fate.
With Concordia seemingly imploding after the fumble, coach McGrath remained certain that the situation would be different had they fumbled earlier in the game. “[The fumble] put the game out of reach… not like early in the game when you can overcome it. That basically sealed out fate and took away our chances,” he added after the game.
The Stingers’ chances were hurt before the game even started, when Robert Mackay was ruled unfit to play. Terrence Morsink answered the call and finished with 236 yards, a touchdown, and two turnovers in his first-ever university start. Though Morsink found out just hours before the game that he’d be getting the starting nod, he was ready to lead his team. “You always got to prepare like you’re the starter… watch just as much film as Rob, and always be ready to go,” said Morsink after the game.
Coach McGrath was happy with his young team’s performance, as they continue to improve with each passing game. “At the end of the day it didn’t show that way, but our team was a lot better this week than it was last week and they’ll be a lot better next week,” he said after the game.
The Stingers’ next game is Friday, Sept. 17 against cross-town rivals McGill. You can catch the game at 7 p.m. at Molson Stadium.