By Alexander Cole
During a cool evening at Percival Molson Stadium on Sept. 2, the Concordia Stingers football team defeated their crosstown rivals, the McGill Redmen, in the 48th annual Shaughnessy Cup by a score of 30-16.
“This is like a Vanier Cup to us,” Stingers coach Mickey Donovan said. “There is a huge rivalry between the two teams and it’s not just a first game of the season. It’s definitely a playoff game and every game is like a playoff game.”
Despite the win, the Stingers came out of the gate shaky. Quarterback Trenton Miller struggled to start the game and threw two interceptions on his first two possessions. Miller’s second interception found the hands of Redmen defensive back Vincent Dethier in the end zone.
On the ensuing Redmen drive, McGill quarterback Nicolas English threw to wide receiver Joel Soucy for a touchdown. This gave the Redmen a 7-0 lead.
Later on in the second quarter, Stingers linebacker Samuel Brodrique intercepted a pass from English and ran it 81 yards to McGill’s 8-yard line. Miller took advantage of the field position and made no mistake throwing the ball to Yanic Lessard for the touchdown to give the team an 8-7 lead.
Heading into halftime, the Stingers boasted a 13-7 lead thanks to a field goal from rookie kicker Patrick Mills and a McGill Redmen safety.
With three interceptions after just two quarters of play, Donovan had plenty of praise for his defense.
“[The defense] was huge. [Brodrique] is a special kid,” Donovan said. “In his first year he got voted as a captain. He is a special leader who does great work both on and off the field. The whole defense was prepared and we came out on top.”
To start the second half, the Redmen made a change to the quarterback position, opting for the rookie Frédéric Paquette-Perrault. Paquette-Perrault took advantage of his first opportunity by throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Louis Brouillette on the opening drive of the half. This gave the Redmen a 14-13 lead.
“It was nice to get in the game,” Paquette-Perrault said. “I had a great opportunity to play. We played a good game but we made a lot of errors.”
Deep into the third quarter, Miller was able to find his rhythm for the Stingers and marched the team down the field and set them up for a field goal which gave the Stingers back their lead. Despite the early jitters, Miller felt confident out on the field in the second half.
“Honestly my team just believed in me,” Miller said. “Our receivers kept trying to get open and they made it easier for me. When they are patting me on the butt on the sideline telling me to not worry about it, it helps.”
In the final quarter, with the score tied at 16, Miller kicked his offense into high gear and gave the team a 23-16 lead after a 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Daniel Skube.
On the next Stingers possession, Miller threw a touchdown to rookie wide receiver Vincent Alessandrini, which gave the team a 30-16 lead. A lead they would never look back on.
In his debut, Alessandrini caught nine passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.
“It was an unreal feeling, I just went with my instinct and it was a big team effort,” Alessandrini said. “This game just goes to show that Concordia is headed in the right direction to win the Vanier Cup.”
After the Stingers went up by 14 points, the Redmen were able to get deep into the Stingers zone multiple times but were unable to score. The Stingers defence kept Paquette-Perrault from getting into the end zone and forced him to throw two interceptions in the second half.
“We really tried to go fast but it wasn’t great,” Paquette-Perrault said. “We made a lot of mistakes and we’re going to have to play sharper next week. I just hope to get better and help the team as much as I can.”
Paquette-Perrault’s opponent, Miller, threw for 375 yards in the game, including three touchdowns and two early interceptions.
After the game, Miller had high praise for his offensive line, who he felt gave him the edge when making big offensive plays down the stretch.
“I had at least three seconds to pass on every play tonight, it was ridiculous how well they played,” Miller said. “From left to right they all played amazing and it’s something I hope to see every single game.”
Coach Donovan said that despite having the lead at halftime, it was important to keep the team motivated for the second half. Donovan felt as though the team could have been playing much better.
“[At half] I told them to stick together and to not give up”, Donovan said. “We weren’t playing our best game and we [made] some corrections. We came out after and we played the way Concordia is supposed to play football.”