a, Sports

Lightning strikes: Redmen end 23-game drought

It’s been 1,077 days since the McGill Redmen’s last football win. That is two years, 11 months, and 11 days. Since then, the program has struggled to get back on its feet. New Head Coach Clint Uttley has tried to make the team tougher and practice harder. This extra work had not garnered any results on the field—until Friday night, when the Redmen (1-2) snapped their painful 23-game losing streak with a convincing 36-9 victory over the Mount Allison Mounties (0-2) at Molson Stadium in front of the “Fill the Stadium” crowd.

Post-game remarks indicated that Coach Uttley was pleased with the result, attributing much of the Redmen’s success to their execution on offence. “We had two really good weeks of practice, and we saw a good return on that investment,” Uttley said. “We really executed the offence for the first time [this] season.”

Much of the offensive struggles so far in the season have been a result of an unsettled quarterback position. Previously, both sophomore Dallon Kuprowski and junior Jonathan Collin have tried their hands at leading the Redmen’s offence but neither was able to generate much success. Fifth-year quarterback Ryne Bondy got the chance on Friday and took full advantage of it, leading the offence both in the air and on the ground. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 189 passing yards and three touchdowns, adding a game-high 69 rushing yards.  Tailbacks Luis Guimont-Mota and Taylor Kuprowski also contributed to the dominant ground game, combining for 120 rushing yards.

2,187 raucous fans came out to support the home team in the fifth annual “Fill The Stadium” game, and the Redmen repaid them early by scoring 35 points in the first half. Bondy and receiver Gabriel Aubry opened the scoring with a bang, connecting on a 59-yard touchdown pass. Bondy would then take the rock himself on the next drive—faking a handoff and then bouncing off a tackle on his way to an 8-yard scamper for the major bringing it to 14-0 McGill.

Amazingly, Bondy was not yet finished. He closed out the first quarter with a well-placed lob to Sean Murphy at the back of the end zone, giving the Redmen a 25-0 lead. That drive, like many others that night, was set up by a beautiful 48-yard punt return by Yannick Langelier-Vanasse. Coach Uttley praised his return man after the game.

“Yan has found his niche in the return game and he’s getting more comfortable each week,” Uttley said. “He has really exceeded expectations.”

In fact, the coach was pleased with his entire special teams unit, crediting the group’s success to a revamped coverage team comprised mostly of freshmen. He highlighted the athleticism of the unit as being instrumental in numerous one-on-one matchups in the return game.

As halftime approached, the weather broke and rain began to pour, causing a 12 minute stoppage in play. With the score heavily in McGill’s favour, many fans headed for the exits, while others took cover under the overhang of the upper deck. This weather contributed to a very sloppy second half. Jonathan Collin took over for Bondy, as the team planned to compare the two performances. Unfortunately, Collin had to battle with the unfavourable conditions and he struggled, throwing an interception early. In all, the Redmen turned the ball over three times in the second half and were penalized far too often, knocked for 140 yards on 12 infractions—more than Coach Uttley was hoping for. Uttley emphasized that cutting down on these mistakes will definitely be a focus moving forward.

McGill will have a much tougher opponent the next time out, when it hosts the No.3-ranked Laval Rouge-et-Or on Sept. 21. However, this victory will undoubtedly give the Redmen a confidence boost and something to build on going forward into the season.

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