The Concordia Stingers ended a two game losing streak on Saturday afternoon, beating crosstown rivals McGill in the 25th edition of the Montreal Shrine Bowl.
The Stingers cruised to a convincing 39-16 over the Redmen. Concordia now has three games remaining and are eyeing a return to the postseason.
Hosted by Concordia for the 13th consecutive year, the Shrine Bowl is a charity football game that benefits the Montreal Shriners Hospital for Children. Coach Gerry McGrath expected the best of his team heading into Saturday’s game. Going in with a 2-3 record, McGrath told his team he expected to win the remaining four games and earn a second place finish.
The Redmen kept the game close in the first half. After Reid Quest threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kris Bastien in the first quarter to make the score 10-2, the teams exchanged safeties to make it 12-4, before McGill quarterback Ryan Bondy cut the lead to 12-11 with a four-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Aubry.
Just as it seemed as if McGill would carry that momentum into the second half, the Stingers defence stepped up and snuffed out McGill. On the last play of the half, Max Caron intercepted the ball close to the line of scrimmage and easily returned it 56 yards for the touchdown.
The Stingers would never look back.
Concordia cruised in the second half, but the offence wasn’t the only reason for that. Defensive back and return specialist Kris Robertson looked like Chicago Bears’ star Devin Hester, returning 10 punts for 214 yards, including a 69-yard return for a score. Robertson has impressed all season and put on a show Saturday.
The Stingers led 29-11 going into the fourth quarter and added ten more points, including Mike Harrington’s 15-yard touchdown pass from Quest. Harrington, who is in his second year, had his “coming out party,” as he put it. He finished the game with seven receptions for 154 yards and the touchdown.
“I didn’t really do anything differently,” said Harrington. “I just got the opportunities and made the most of it.”
The Stingers’ win led to interesting developments at the quarterback position during the game. Both of the Stingers’ top two quarterbacks saw playing time. Quest finished 13-of-21 for 193 yards and two touchdowns, while Terrance Morsink got playing time as well, with seven completions on 10 passes for 114 yards. Morsink had lost the starting job earlier in the season, but McGrath said the team is taking a new approach at quarterback.
“We have a plan,” said McGrath. “We feel we’re a better team with both quarterbacks playing.”
It appears that Concordia’s new motto is “two is better than one.” A two quarterback system is not unheard of, especially at the collegiate level. The LSU Tigers, the top ranked team in United States college football, successfully implemented a similar strategy. Time will tell whether or not the Stingers can have similar success.
“We both got time, we both played well, so if we can do this by committee, that’s cool,” said Morsink. “As long as the team’s winning, that’s what’s important.”
Quest feels the same way also. “Statistics don’t matter,” he said. “We were successful today, so we’re happy to do what’s required.”
The win was made even more special for Quest, as his family had flown in from Saskatchewan to see the game.
With Laval’s first loss of the season over the weekend to the Montreal Carabins, the Stingers are tied for third place with Montreal at 3-3, both two games behind Sherbrooke and Laval who are tied for first at 5-1.
Concordia steps on the field Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or.