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Hard pill to swallow for Stingers football in disheartening 38-14 loss against Sherbrooke

The Stingers were unable to clinch their second win of the season at home against the Vert et Or over Shrine Bowl weekend.

With both teams coming off disappointing losses on the road, each side came in with a chip on their shoulder in what was considered a key win to get a playoff spot. Sherbrooke was able to rally behind their fans, who came strong to cheer them on, packing the Concordia stadium bleachers with an ocean of green jerseys as cowbells and horns created an electric atmosphere.

The Vert et Or came out guns blazing, making the running game count early and piercing through the Stingers’ defence to reach the endzone on their very first drive. Concordia’s insufficient answer came in the form of a solid running effort of their own, as running back Franck Tchembe, who had 61 rushing yards on the day, managed to move the Stingers up the field before a potential touchdown pass was ultimately dropped not far from the goal line.

“It was a horrible performance,” said Stingers’ quarterback Olivier Roy. “Offensively we couldn’t run the ball, we couldn’t pass the ball, we couldn’t put many points on the board, and it makes it hard to win games.”

The Stingers had a hard time getting things going on offence and were only able to score their first points late in the first half when slotback Jaylan Greaves hauled in a 6-yard pass for the touchdown.

Roy, who hopes to improve and learn from the loss, said the team needs to look at film and clean things up before their next game on Saturday, Oct. 8.

The juggernaut Sherbrooke offence was on high display from the first moments to the last of the game, excelling in both the running and passing game and making several huge plays. The Vert et Or’s running back Lucas Dalin, who left the Shrine Bowl with the John Gilday offensive MVP award, ran for 170 yards and scored a touchdown, while backup quarterback Gianni Casati was able to run through the endzone twice. Sherbrooke quarterback Charles Picard passed for 149 yards and a touchdown to receiver William Marchand, as the Vert et Or concluded the day with four trips to the endzone.

“We had a gameplan that we knew we had to execute to win,” said wide receiver Jeremy Murphy. “We created too many turnovers and that’s not how you win ball games.”

The Stingers threw three interceptions and fumbled twice which allowed Sherbrooke to take good field position multiple times, ultimately paying for their mistakes.

The team isn’t hiding from acknowledging the necessity for improvement and better execution, as both Murphy and fifth-year head coach Brad Collinson declared they “needed to work on everything.”

Despite the loss, the Shrine Bowl was an occasion for players, coaches, and fans to share a heartwarming moment as children from Shriners Hospital were able to take pictures with the players and hand out the traditional Shrine Bowl awards to both teams.

Roy, who took pictures with fans after the game, said “it’s a great honour, we’re so blessed to be able to play this game. Seeing these kids out here with a smile on their faces… It keeps us grounded.”

Heading into next week’s road game against the University of Montreal Carabins, the Stingers go back to the drawing board in hopes of adding a much-needed win against a high-profile opponent to their record.

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RSEQ Football Mid-Season Report Card

Where do the Concordia Stingers rank at this point in the season?

With the second half of the 2021 RSEQ football season underway, the Stingers (3-2) are in third place situated behind the powerhouse first place Montreal Carabins (4-1) and the second place Laval Rouge et Or (4-2), with the Sherbrooke Vert et Or (2-4) and McGill Redbirds (1-5) in the fourth and fifth place spots respectively.

Right now, the standings are an honest indication of the overall power rankings for the league. With the Carabins, the Rouge et Or, and the Stingers holding the top three spots, it is without a doubt that these three teams will be battling it out for the top seed. While the power rankings may label these teams in first, second, and third, the statistics suggest the rankings are much closer than they appear.

The Montreal Carabins are the team to beat and top the list coming off a bye-week. The team’s only loss was against the Stingers 31-28 in a dramatic come-from-behind win. The other close game for the Carabins came against Laval, where Montreal squeaked by with a one-point victory 18-17. Otherwise, the Carabins have balled out with three double-digit wins: two against Sherbrooke and one against McGill. The Carabins also rank third in total offence and first in total defence. With impressive numbers on both sides of the ball, this multi-dimensional team has been successful for now but is being chased down by two teams who are breathing down their necks.

The Laval Rouge et Or officially find themselves in second place, but arguably one could make the case that they are still the best team in the RSEQ. Besides their narrow defeat to Montreal, Laval suffered an upset loss against Sherbrooke 23-17, giving up 20 points to the Vert et Or in the second quarter alone. Otherwise, Laval tends to dominate; they’re used to double-digit victories, with the most significant being the 55-2 smackdown they laid on McGill in week five of the season.

Laval is the contemporary juggernaut of the RSEQ: their defence is sound, ranking second in total defence, and most notably, ranking first in interceptions and passing defensive efficiency. If the Montreal Carabins are a multi-dimensional team, the Rouge et Or are no slouches either: Laval ranks second in total offence, first in rushing offence, and first in first downs with 140. It’s fair to say, Laval can find ways to win on both sides of the ball.

If there’s any team muscling their way in this playoff race, it’s the Concordia Stingers. This team seems to be improving with each week — ever-evolving and generating momentum, which has garnered them success. Despite a disappointing 36-10 loss to Laval on Sunday, Stingers starting quarterback Olivier Roy went from his first attempted pass of the season being intercepted, to breaking the single-game RSEQ passing yards record in the span of a month. The Stingers tout a stellar offence that tends to do its best work in the second half, which has granted them their dramatic come-from-behind victories.

One area Concordia needs to improve on to obtain the top seed, it would be their defence. Ranked fourth in total defence, fifth in rushing defence, and fourth in passing defence, the Stingers have given up an average of 445 yards per game. If the Stingers want to carry their momentum into the second half of the season, they’ll need to resolve their defensive issues.

This leaves the Sherbrooke Vert et Or and the McGill Redbirds in the fourth and fifth place slots, respectively. Sherbrooke has doled out a few upsets in an otherwise less-than-stellar first half of the season. With a win against Laval, and having gone toe-to-toe in a shootout with Concordia in week four, Sherbrooke can play heartbreaker for whichever playoff contender is yearning for that top seed.

As for the McGill Redbirds, the team’s losing record doesn’t reflect how solid their defensive core truly is. The Redbirds rank high in many defensive categories, including second in pass defence and first in sacks with 17. If it weren’t for their shaky offence, which could only register 22 points in their last three games — including a 21-13 loss to Sherbrooke on Saturday — the Redbirds would be sitting in a better position standings-wise.

After a lengthy hiatus between seasons due to the pandemic, it has been quite an eventful season, and fans can expect many more thrilling games to come.

 

Photograph by Catherine Reynolds

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Concordia hands Sherbrooke a 42-39 loss after walk-off touchdown

Stingers win overtime thriller as Olivier Roy smashes single game passing record

The Stingers etched their name into RSEQ history books on Saturday against the Sherbrooke Vert & Or, after starting quarterback Olivier Roy threw for a whopping 580 yards, which included five touchdowns. 

Roy said it felt good to break the record, but there are aspects that can still be improved.

“The game plan wasn’t to throw the ball that much, but you gotta do what you got to do. I’m proud of our guys,” said Roy.

The game started off with a touchdown throw from Sherbrooke quarterback Anthony Robichaud, completing a 47-yard catch and run to Charles Giroux. The Stingers responded with a stellar 55-yard catch from electric wide receiver Jaylan Greaves. Finally, the drive was capped off with a tight throw in the endzone to wideout Jeremy Murphy. 

The second quarter was when Concordia’s offence truly came to life. After both teams kicked field goals, Concordia capitalized on a bad Sherbrooke snap, which led to a safety. Sherbrooke rallied however, retaking the lead with excellent special teams play. The Stingers then recaptured the lead with a short touchdown throw to Greaves. 

With 36 seconds left in the half, the Stingers made the most of an errant situation; a catch from Concordia pass catcher Tristan Mancini was knocked loose, and the fumble was recovered by speedster slot wide receiver Jacob Salvail who took it 50 yards to the house for a Stingers touchdown. 

An interception from linebacker Zach Philion ended the half with Concordia leading 26-14.

The second half started with punts from both teams, as the defences were reinvigorated after the break. This stalemate ended abruptly after a 50-yard touchdown throw from Robichaud, with a single point touchback to make it an eight point drive for Sherbrooke. 

The teams once again traded field goals, before Concordia responded with a 50-yard touchdown of their own, once again to Savail, giving Concordia a 36-25 lead heading into the 4th quarter. 

A Sherbrooke touchdown to open the fourth quarter with a successful two point conversion put the visiting team within a field goal of tying the game. The Stingers’ situation worsened when their star wide receiver Jeremy Murphy went down with an injury following a monster reception.

Late in the quarter was when Roy surpassed the previous record holder, former McGill quarterback Matt Connell. He held the record for 14 years with 557 yards in a single game. The record now belongs to Olivier Roy, who eclipsed Connell by throwing for 580 yards.

After a Sherbrooke field goal to tie up the game, the match went into overtime. An unsuccessful drive marred by penalties set up Roy to throw a dime to Greaves for the walk-off touchdown to win the game. 

“You dream about it as a kid,” said Greaves moments after the final whistle. “It’s pure, it just fell into place. I can’t even speak, it’s just amazing.”

The Stingers have an upcoming bye week, giving them some time off before their next game on Oct. 10 at Laval.

 

Photograph by Catherine Reynolds

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Stingers rugby head back to RSEQ final with 17-0 win

Sherbrooke Vert et Or latest victim of undefeated season

The Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team remains perfect and is headed to the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) final after beating the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or 17-0 on Nov. 3 at the Concordia Stadium.

“We had a great season, but this win doesn’t mean anything yet,” said centre Charles Debove, who didn’t play in the game. “We need to stay humble about it and get ready for the finals.”

It was a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon as fans gathered to watch the semi-final. Although the Stingers hosted it at the Concordia Stadium, it almost felt like it was a home game for the Vert et Or, as there were probably more Sherbrooke fans in attendance than Stingers fans.

The Stingers will host the Bishop’s Gaiters in the RSEQ final. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Within the first minute of the game, the Vert et Or had a great chance to strike first. Sherbrooke’s Clément Tisnerat, awarded rookie of the year, blocked a Stingers kick, and tired to recover the bouncing ball and return it for a try. Instead, he tapped the ball forward and the Stingers regained possession.

It was a defensive affair for most of the first half as the score remained 0-0 almost until the end, and neither defence gave up any ground. Finally, the Stingers got close to the try zone and capitalized. Eight-man Lucas Hotton was able to plow through several Sherbrooke defenders to take the seven-point lead.

It was quite the physical game and both teams jawed at each other. Both teams did a good job of securing the ball considering how cold and rainy it was. Concordia extended their lead to two possessions, making it 10-0 as Moritz Wittmann kicked a drop goal early in the second half. During the later part of the game, it started to sloppy, as both teams seemed to be quite tired, letting scoring chances slip right through their fingers.

Every time Sherbrooke marched down the field, the Stingers defense tightened up and came up with a big play—they simply would not allow the Vert et Or to score. This was representative of how their defence was all season long—they gave up less than 50 points in six regular-season games. Sherbrooke got frustrated at their inability to put points on the board, yelling at the ref and spiking the ball down.

The Stingers’s Malcolm Baird ended up getting another late try to win the game. The Stingers will play the Bishop’s Gaiters in the RSEQ final game next Saturday at Concordia at 2 p.m.  

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.

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Stingers home-opener gets crowd off their feet

Concordia scored 17 points in final six minutes to complete comeback win

The Concordia Stingers football team were trailing for 56 minutes of their home-opener against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or on Sept. 8 at the Concordia Stadium. A touchdown catch by wide receiver James Tyrrell gave the Stingers a 22-20 win as time expired, and helped improve their record to 1-1.

Heading into the second half down 9-0, the Stingers’s chances of beating the Vert et Or didn’t look good. They had been held to mostly ineffective plays, and any time they gained some momentum, it was quickly negated by penalties and turnovers.

Stingers quarterback Adam Vance said that the team just kept shooting themselves in the foot during the first half. Head coach Brad Collinson was not impressed with how his team came out in the first part of the game.

“I told them they had to look themselves in the mirror,” said Collinson about his halftime locker room talk with the team. “They had to make a decision coming out to that second half if they wanted to play or not.”

The Stingers needed a last-second field goal to beat the Vert et Or last season. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Stingers air attack key in second half

The Stingers came out strong to start the second half. Vance was finally able to get his rhythm going and found chemistry with his receivers. Despite a slow first half, the air attack was deadly for the Stingers. Vance finished the game 20/34 for 441 yards and one touchdown pass. Wide receiver Jarryd Taylor had eight receptions for 258 yards, averaging over 35 yards per catch.

“Our whole offence [was clicking],” Taylor said. “We have the best receiving corps in all of Canada and we showed it today. I went into the locker at half with [one] catch. I’m the type of player who wants the ball in my hands every play.”

Sherbrooke made sure to vary their coverages to throw off the Stingers offence, but Vance was able to adjust and connect with his receivers.  

“Second half, we definitely came out with some anger behind us,” Tyrrell said, who finished the game with 78 yards and that game-winning touchdown catch.

Sherbrooke didn’t rack up as many yards in the game, but they made sure to take advantage of any opportunity. Quarterback Joé Hudon finished with 108 passing yards and a touchdown, and running back Gabriel Polan had 55 rushing yards. Sherbrooke’s play-action wreaked havoc for most of the game, and often left the Stingers’s defenders losing sight of the ball.

Despite playing better in the second half, the Stingers still found themselves in trouble. They were only able to score a single touchdown and get one field goal in the red zone all game. The Stingers were frustrated when they were in prime scoring position on the two-yard line late in the fourth quarter, down eight points. Stingers running back Widler Exilus took the handoff from Vance, but contact at the line of scrimmage made him drop the ball. That fumble was recovered by Vert et Or defensive back, Anthony Chagnon, who took it 108 yards to extend the Vert et Or lead to 20-5.

The Stingers seemed out of touch, especially after such a potentially demoralizing play. But a touchdown run and two safeties later, and the score was suddenly 20-16 with less than two minutes left in the game.

This was Brad Collinson’s first win as head coach of the Stingers. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The Comeback

With 15 seconds left in the game and the Stingers in their own half, Vance used his arm to find Taylor. It was a 50-yard catch-and-run play that placed the Stingers on Sherbrooke’s 25-yard line.

With six seconds left on the clock, Vance snapped the ball, and Sherbrooke had four defenders deep in the endzone. The quarterback was forced out of the pocket, took a couple of steps forward, and tossed a high ball to the back corner of the endzone towards Tyrrell.

“I knew from the snap that I was going to him,” Vance said. “His vertical is crazy.”

Tyrrell leaped up, showcasing his vertical against two Sherbrooke defenders, and managed to bring the catch down for a touchdown as time expired.

The packed crowd exploded, as both fans and the entire Stingers team rushed onto the field to celebrate.

“I used to jump up and play ‘Jackpot’ when I was little, so it just came down to that,” Tyrrell said. “This is the stuff you dream of. It’s just you and the ball, you don’t hear anything else, you just have to catch it.”

Games notes

For Stingers offensive guard Kenny Johnson, this was about as good of a return to the home field as he could have hoped. Johnson missed the last three seasons recovering from a serious knee injury which he suffered in 2015, during his rookie season. After three surgeries, he is finally back on the field as a fifth-year player. This was his first game back at the Concordia Stadium, where he suffered his injury. For him, the win meant a lot. “It’s amazing,” Johnson said. “I came back to a team filled with my brothers. I had my friends come out [to the game], my girlfriend come out. The crowd was with us the whole time.”

The Stingers will take on the McGill Redmen at McGill on Sept. 15.

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.

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Stingers pull off a massive comeback with 22-20 win over Sherbrooke

James Tyrrell hauls down game-winning touchdown as time expires

The Concordia Stingers football team managed to pull off a massive comeback as they beat the Sherbrooke Vert et Or 22-20, thanks to a game-winning touchdown catch by wide receiver James Tyrrell.

Heading into the second half down 9-0, the Stingers’s chances of beating the Vert et Or didn’t look good. They had been held to mostly ineffective plays, and any time momentum got moving their way, it was quickly negated by penalties and turnovers.

Stingers quarterback Adam Vance said that the team just kept shooting themselves in the foot during the first half. Head coach Brad Collinson was not impressed with how his team came out in the first half.

“I told them they had to look themselves in the mirror,” said Collinson about his halftime locker room talk with the team. “They had to make a decision coming out to that second half if they wanted to play or not.”

The Stingers came out strong in the beginning of the second half. Vance was finally able to get his rhythm going, and found chemistry with his receivers. Despite a slow first half, the air attack was deadly for the Stingers in the second half. Vance finished the game 20/34 passing for 441 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Jarryd Taylor had eight receptions for 258 yards.

“Our whole offence [was clicking],” Taylor said. “We have the best receiving corps in all of Canada and we showed it today. I went into the locker at half with [one] catch. I’m the type of player who wants the ball in my hands every play.”

Concordia needed a rushing TD to kick-start their comeback in the fourth quarter. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Sherbrooke made sure to vary their coverages in order to throw off the Stingers offence, but Vance was able to adjust and connect with his receivers. “Second half, we definitely came out with some anger behind us,” Tyrell said, who finished the game with 78 yards and the game-winning touchdown catch.

Sherbrooke didn’t rack up as many yards in the game, but they made sure to take advantage of their chances. Quarterback Joé Hudon finished with 108 passing yards and a touchdown, and running back Gabriel Polan had 55 rushing yards. Sherbrooke’s play-action wreaked havoc for most of the game, and often left Stingers defenders losing sight of the ball.

The red zone was not a friendly place for the Stingers, as they were able to convert only a field goal and touchdown throughout the whole game. This frustration came to a point when the Stingers found themselves on the one-yard line in the fourth quarter, but fumbled the ball. That fumble was recovered by Vert et Or defensive back Anthony Chagnon, who took it the length of the field to score, extending their lead to 20-5 with six minutes left.

The Stingers seemed out of touch, especially after such a potentially demoralizing play. But a touchdown run, and two safeties later, the score was suddenly 20-16 with about 1:30 left in the game.

With six seconds left on the clock, Vance snapped the ball, and Sherbrooke had four defenders deep in the endzone. The quarterback was forced out of the pocket, took a couple of steps forward, and tossed a high ball to the back corner of the endzone towards Tyrrell.

“I knew from the snap that I was going to him. His vertical is crazy,” Vance said. Tyrrell leaped up with two Sherbrooke defenders, and somehow managed to bring the ball down as time expired.

 

The packed crowd exploded, as both fans and the entire Stingers team rushed onto the field to celebrate.

“I used to jump up and play ‘Jackpot’ when I was little, so it just came down to that,” Tyrrell. “This is the stuff you dream of. It’s just you and the ball, you don’t hear anything else, you just have to catch it.”

The Stingers will take on the McGill Redmen at McGill on Sept. 15 in their next game.

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad. 

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Stingers men’s rugby team opens season with convincing 66-7 win

After an undefeated 2017 season, the Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team started the 2018 campaign with a win. They beat the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or 66-7 Friday night at the Concordia Stadium.

“I think we had a really good two-week [training camp] leading up to this,” head coach Craig Beemer said after the game. “We had a lot of returning starters and we had a lot of leaders from last year coming back.”

The Stingers got off to a hot start, with a try in the opening two minutes, and a second coming five minutes later. The Stingers had a 19-0 lead by the time the Vert et Or first had control of the ball inside the Stingers’s half, 15 minutes into the game.

“We really didn’t have to start from scratch,” Beemer added. “We just sort of built on the momentum we had from last year.”

Physical play between the Stingers and Vert et Or picked up in the second half. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

The Stingers were forcing the Vert et Or into making multiple mistakes, and had many interceptions in Sherbrooke’s half of the field. The Stingers took control of the game with four tries in ten minutes midway through the first half.  

The game started to get physical when Concordia’s lead grew to over 40 points late in the first half. A Vert et Or player didn’t like the way a Stinger tackled him, and a few jabs were thrown each way. The Vert et Or managed to scored in the first half, but the Stingers were up 45-7 at halftime.

“Believe it or not we didn’t actually do what we really wanted to do in the first half,” Beemer said. “We just had an emotional, testosterone-filled first half where we saw that we have a lot of talented players.”“I still think we could play better with the ball, and when we have overlaps, to use them and not just try to run over the opposition. It worked tonight, but doesn’t always work,” the head coach said.

The Stingers didn’t score as much in the second half, but the physicality increased. The Vert et Or had more possession of the ball, but the Stingers were strong defensively, stopping them on every opportunity, which frustrated their opponents.

Charles Debove scored on eight of 10 conversions. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

For an eight-minute stretch in the second half, Sherbrooke constantly had the ball between Concordia’s five and 10-yard line, but couldn’t score. The referee stopped play multiple times for fouls.

“We had that scrum there where nobody was playing rugby,” Beemer said about the incidents.

In total, the Stingers scored 10 tries, while Stingers’s Jonathan Banks was successful on eight of 10 conversions.

The Stingers men’s rugby team’s next game is Sept. 21 away against the École de technologie supérieure (ETS) Piranhas.

Main photo by Hannah Ewen. 

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