In an exciting battle between the two remaining winless teams in the RSEQ conference, the Bishop’s Gaiters (1-4) came out on top, edging the Redmen (0-5) by a score of 17-13 on Thursday night at Molson Stadium.Both teams tapped freshman quarterbacks to start the game, a rare occurrence in the wildly comipetitive RSEQ. On the Redmen side, a lingering concussion to senior quarterback Dallon Kuprowski meant rookie Joel Houle, from Chateauguay, QC, would get a shot to start for the third consecutive week. For Bishop’s, the promising Travis Eman, from Brampton, ON, made his first start of the season.
There were new faces on the sidelines for the Redmen, too, following Head Coach Clint Uttley’s resignation over the McGill administration’s stance on the charges leveled against star running back Luis-Andres Guimont-Mota. In his public statement, Uttley cited a conflict in moral values as his main reason for stepping down.
“If providing young men with a second opportunity has effectively cost me my position as head football coach at McGill, then I accept that consequence in order to maintain a higher moral standard than what’s been dictated,” Uttley said.
Newly appointed Co-Coaches Patrick Boies and Ronald Hilaire, formerly the respective offensive and defensive coordinators were eager to turn the season around in their first game at the helm.
“The mindset was good [going into the game],” Coach Boies said. “We had our best week of pracatice all year, and we saw [the team] rally around the adversity really well.”
With both teams ravaged by injuries to key offensive players, the defences dominated the game, resulting in a low-scoring affair. The effect was especially pronounced for McGill, who, without its top running back and receiver, featured a 48-man roster including a school record 23 true freshmen. The lack of experience was on display early, as neither team was able to secure red-zone position through the first frame. The scoring finally began early in the second quarter, with the Redmen drawing first blood. Following two outstanding runs from sophomore receiver Raphael Casey, Houle completed a 13-yard pass to 6-foot-1 wide receiver Jonathan Mack to set up a 37-yard field goal from senior place-kicker Nils Jonkmans.
Defensively, yet another freshman led the way for McGill. Linebacker Karl Forgues, from Repentigny, QC, registered a game-high 10 tackles. Forgues has quietly put together an impressive rookie season, capably filling the defensive void left by the departure of linebacker Jesse Briggs to the CFL.
The Redmen defensive line was aggressive all night, slicing through the Gaiters’ offensive line and pressuring the opposing quarterback to the tune of seven sacks and two interceptions. However, while they were able to limit Eman’s passing game to a paltry nine yards, they could not contain him on the ground, as his two rushing touchdowns proved to be the difference in the tightly contested match.
With three games left in the regular season, McGill will look to get in the win column next Saturday at 1 p.m. against Sherbrooke (2-3) in the McGill Homecoming game.
The Redmen haven’t put together a winning season since 2006, but Boies isn’t ready to throw in the towel.
“Right now we can only control getting the guys prepared for their next game,” he said. “We never stop recruiting for the future […] even with the issues we’ve had [this season.]”