TORONTO – The RSEQ football season is now in full swing.
The Quebec conference is front and centre early in the season, as the only conference in U SPORTS to begin its 2021 campaign. Week 2 featured a pair of Saturday matchups over the Labour Day long weekend, with the two anglophone teams – McGill and Concordia – opening up the home portion of their schedules.
In the Stingers case, Week 2 was also their first action of the season, coming off an opening-week bye. They were in tough against the Laval Rouge et Or, who were fresh off a nail-biting 18-11 victory over McGill, while those Redbirds were eyeing a bounce-back performance against a Sherbrooke Vert et Or squad that suffered a 17-point season-opening defeat at the hands of the idle Montreal Carabins.
SHERBROOKE 18 | McGILL 21
The defences came to play early in this one. Seven of the first eight possessions of the game resulted in punts; the other was a missed 45-yard field goal from McGill kicker Antoine Couture that resulted in a rouge.
Then in the second, after a 3rd-down stand from the Redbirds, they got the ball back on downs in great field position. It didn’t take long for the hosts to take advantage, as Mathieu Soucy caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Dimitrios Sinodinos for his first of two major scores on the day. Couture added the PAT to make it 8-0 McGill.
It would take less than two minutes for the visiting Vert et Or to respond. Anthony Robichaud found Kevin Morin down the rail for a 53-yard touchdown strike, capping off a quick four-play, 84-yard drive. Sherbrooke would go for two looking to tie the game, and sophomore receiver Charles Giroux would haul in the conversion catch to get his team back on level terms.
After forcing a two and out, Sherbrooke got the ball back at the McGill 51. They would get one first down, setting up a 43-yard field goal attempt from Louis Tardif. He made good, giving the Vert et Or their first lead of the afternoon, 11-8. McGill would have time to respond before the half, and they would. The drive was highlighted by a 50-yard hookup between Sinodinos and 3rd-year wideout Xavier Asselin. That would lead to a 28-yard chip shot from Couture to tie the game at 11 at the break.
Following a delay early in the 3rd quarter due to an injured player, it was McGill getting back in front. After another turnover on downs from the Vert et Or thanks to a botched punt, the Redbirds took over at the Sherbrooke 45. They once again took advantage of the field position as, just two plays later, Soucy would haul in his 2nd touchdown pass of the day – this one a 39-yard strike – to give his team back the lead. Couture’s PAT made it 18-11. McGill extended that lead to 10 in the final seconds of the third on another easy field Couture field goal, this time a 24-yarder, to give McGill a 21-11 edge with 15 minutes to play.
The Vert et Or had a chance to cut into the lead early in the final frame, but Tardif was unable to hit from 48 yards out, a miss that would prove costly. With Sherbrooke still down 10 with less than two minutes to go, they were in need of some points to keep themselves alive. Starting from midfield, they were able to drive down to the 1 in under a minute, thanks in no small part to a 35-yard reception from Morin. On 3rd and goal from the 1, Robichaud lined up behind centre and snuck in for six, plus to point after to make it 21-18 with 56 seconds to go.
The Vert et Or would recover the ensuing onside kick, but it did not travel the requisite 10 yards, resulting in a penalty and a loss of possession. Sherbrooke forced a two and out, getting the ball back with just 7 seconds left, but were unable to pull off the miracle as the Redbirds held on to win their home opener in a thriller, 21-18.
They will enjoy a bye in Week 3, while Sherbrooke returns home for a tough test against the Laval Rouge et Or
LAVAL 33 | CONCORDIA 7
The Concordia Stingers were the last RSEQ team to take the field in 2021 after having a bye in Week 1. Week 2 saw the Laval Rouge et Or come to Concordia Stadium looking to stay unblemished on the young season.
The visitors started the scoring early, as Emile Malenfant hit a 30-yard field goal to put his team up 3-0 less than three minutes in. A safety would put Concordia’s first tw points of the season on the board, and cut the Rouge et Or lead to a rouge after one.
Then in the second, Laval began to pull away. First, it was a 27-yard connection between Thomas Bolduc and Jordan Duprey. The extra point from Malenfant made it 10-2 Rouge et Or. Then, after two safeties conceded by Concordia made it 14-2, Malenfant came out with just over four minutes to play in the half to hit a 37-yard field goal try. That enhanced the Laval lead, now up to 17-2. It was 18-2 in favour of the visitors after 30 minutes of football. Bolduc was terrific in the first half for Laval, going 18-25 for 231 yards and a touchdown through the air.
It was more of the same in the 2nd half. The dagger for Laval was a 25-yard touchdown pass from Bolduc to Kevin Mital – Bolduc throwing for and Mital catching their second touchdowns of the early season. That made it 25-2 and all but ensured a second consecutive Rouge et Or win.
Concordia added a safety and a field goal in the second half to cut the lead to 25-7. Laval, meanwhile, added a late 4th-quarter touchdown on a 72-yard scamper by 4th-year tailback Philippe Lessard-Vézina to make it 32-7. The ensuing kickoff was sent into the end zone for a rouge, making the final score 33-7.
That win propels Laval to 2-0 on the season, while the Stingers fall to 0-1. Laval heads to Sherbrooke to tangle with the Vert et Or on Saturday; Concordia, meanwhile, will play their first road game of the year against the 1-0 Montreal Carabins.