On Sept. 4, the McGill Redbirds (1–1) defeated the Sherbrooke University Vert et Or (1–1) in their first home game of the season. For the first time in 693 days, over one thousand spectators—1,628, to be exact—filled Percival Molson Memorial Stadium to witness an exciting return to varsity football.
Both teams came out with strong defensive presences in the first quarter, stopping each other in their tracks and never making it farther than a few downs before punting. McGill ended the scoreless streak with suffocating defence in Sherbrooke’s endzone, leading to a safety and a 1–0 score with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter brought more action, with several convincing offensive drives, before quarterback Dimitrios Sinodinos beamed a bullet pass to wide receiver Mathieu Soucy in the back right corner of the endzone. After a successful field goal attempt, McGill led 8–0 with 6:38 remaining in the first half. Sherbrooke quarterback Anthony Robichaud, however, promptly retaliated with a 53-yard-arcing throw to wide receiver Kevin Morin, and, after a successful 2-point conversion, McGill and Sherbrooke were tied with 4:48 left in the quarter. Both teams managed a field goal in the following minutes, leaving fans on a razor’s edge heading into the second half.
McGill came out guns blazing in the opening moments of the second half, but was quickly halted in what would be the worst of a string of 11 injuries throughout the game. Second-year wide receiver Dhandre Weekes suffered a severe lower body injury that had him carted away to an ambulance. The game was stopped for the next 45 minutes as both teams waited for another ambulance to assume its post.
“A lot of guys look up to and respect [Dhandre],” Sinodinos said when asked about his teammate’s injury. “He is a really emotional player and brings so much energy to practice. He wants it so bad. To see a guy like him go down really sucks, but we came out to play for him and we got the win for him.”
Come out and play, McGill certainly did; just a few minutes after the delay, Soucy completed his second touchdown off a 39-yard high-arcing throw from Sinodinos. Second-year kicker Antoine Couture furthered the Redbirds’ lead to 21–11 with a field goal, six seconds before the end of the third quarter.
The Vert et Or made an admirable run at McGill’s lead in the fourth quarter, but the Redbird defence ultimately stopped them in their tracks, allowing only one more touchdown with 54 seconds left in the game. The crowd erupted into cheers of celebration as McGill emerged victorious, with a final score of 21–18.
Despite the strong first showing, Soucy believes he and his team still have room to improve.
“We did good, not great,” Soucy said. “We could have put up more points and we have a couple of things to fix up but in the end, we got the W.”
Head coach Ronald Hilaire agreed with Soucy, but was pleased with the players’ performance in the second half.
“I felt that we bounced back from a lacklustre first half from our team,” Hilaire wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune. “At halftime, we regrouped, got our bearings, and came to play in the second half. I was proud of our team for responding that way. We need to be able to maintain [our] level of play notwithstanding the opponent we face.”
Moment of the Game:
Quarterback Dimitrios Sinodinos lofted a 39-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mathieu Soucy to take a 18–11 lead with 9:20 left in the third quarter.
“It feels so nice to be back playing for a crowd. We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. We have been working hard, with Zoom calls, and training camp so it definitely feels good to be back on the field.” — Fifth year Mathieu Soucy on the return from the two-year hiatus from RSEQ sports.
Running back Elijah Woods led McGill’s running efforts, rushing 70 yards over the course of the game.