Lately, in addition to football, the Redmen have been playing a new game: quarterback roulette. But even in front of a raucous Fill the Stadium crowd of 1,942, red (and white) can’t catch a break.
The Redmen used quarterbacks Dallon Kuprowski and Jonathan Collin on Friday, less than a week removed from a tandem quarterbacking effort at Laval from Ryne Bondy and Collin. This week’s game, like the one at Laval, was a close-fought affair. This game too ended in defeat, as the Bishop’s Gaiters erased a 15-3 halftime deficit on their way to a 23-18 win.
According to Head Coach Sonny Wolfe, however, this wasn’t a case of playing well in the first half and letting it slip in the second. “I thought a major reason for losing the game was the first half and not scoring,” Wolfe said. “We had two extended drives and to come away with threes rather than sevens … you’ve got to score when you have the opportunity. The second half they played a little bit better and we didn’t get quite as much.”
Scoring touchdowns, especially in the red zone, has been a huge problem for the team all season. McGill slotback Bobby Mikelberg’s 28-yard first half touchdown reception, which made the score 15-3 McGill, was only the offence’s third touchdown of the year.
“[Austin Anderson] kicked three field goals basically inside the 20, which will tell you we’re not finishing,” punter Tomas Silva said. “All it takes is if you finish any one of those drives then we have this game.”
The Redmen were moving the ball well early, as both the pass and run were effective in the first half; however, with 14 minutes and 37 seconds to go before halftime, starting running back Sean Murphy suffered an apparent hip pointer injury and walked off the field accompanied by two trainers. Up to that point Murphy had gained 71 yards on 13 carries. Fourth-year running back Taylor Kuprowski came in and picked up where Murphy left off, finishing with 96 yards also on 13 carries.
The Gaiters took a big bite out of McGill’s lead only 34 seconds into the second half, as Bishop’s quarterback Jordan Heather connected with brother Nathan Heather for a 75-yard touchdown completion, cutting the McGill lead to 15-10. From there, the McGill offence faltered and, after trading field goals, Bishop’s was able to connect on a short touchdown pass to take the lead. A final field goal by Bishop’s sealed the game and provided the 23-18 margin.
Quarterback Dallon Kuprowski played for all but the final seven minutes of the contest, finishing with 171 passing yards on 14 completions and 29 throws, one passing touchdown, and one interception. He also ran for 22 yards on six carries.
Kuprowski was replaced by Collin for the last few series of the game. “[Collin]’s got a stronger arm and we felt like there was a need to change things up,” Wolfe said. “We only got one field goal in the third quarter and felt like [the quarterback switch] would give us a chance to change it up.”
A big part of the Redmen’s early game success was predicated on field position, in large part provided by Silva’s kicks. “He was booming kicks and he’s a pro,” said Collin. “He’s definitely a weapon that helps us out a lot.” Silva was added to the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ active roster on June 20 before being released five days later.
Silva was disappointed with the result regardless. “It just sucks because our fans come out and it’s Fill the Stadium,” he said. “We come here and we want to play well for [them], or at the very least not disappoint them to the point where you have a game in hand like that and then kind of lose your grip on it.”
The Redmen are quickly losing their grip on this season, as their record stands at 0-5 with only four league games remaining; however, they will have another shot at Bishop’s on Oct. 22.