McGill Redbirds Football (0–1) fell 37-20 in their home opener against the Laval Rouge et Or (2–0) on Sept. 3 in front of a rowdy crowd of over 2,300 fans.
Laval came out strong with a quick touchdown less than three minutes into the game, sending McGill back on their heels and setting the pace for the matchup. Despite the Redbirds earning themselves a field goal just a few minutes later, Laval widened their lead with another touchdown, closing out the quarter 11 points ahead.
Kicking off the second quarter, McGill struck first with a touchdown from third-year running back, Zacharie Magnan. But Laval answered in kind just over a minute later. Only two minutes after that, Laval struck again to end the second quarter up 28-10.
After the half, the Redbirds came out to battle, scoring the only touchdown of the quarter. A spectacular dive from second-year running back, Benjamin Bergeron-Spenard, off a pass from first-year quarterback Éloa Latendresse-Regimbald, put the momentum back on McGill’s side. Latendresse-Regimbald, one of Canada’s top football recruits, showcased his skills throughout the game: The 6”4 education major dominated with 132 rushing yards—the next best being 34 from Laval’s Kalenga Muganda—and led in passing yards with a whopping 381.
“I see a lot of potential,” said Latendresse-Regimbald in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “I know the guys are counting on me so I can count on them and we have each other’s backs, like we did today, and we are just going to improve as we go on.”
Laval’s Kevin Mital closed out the game with his fourth touchdown along with a team safety leaving the Rouge et Or with 37 points. McGill’s Antoine Couture kicked his second field goal of the game to give McGill three more points for a final score of 37-20.
While Latendresse-Regimbald was acutely aware of the costly mistakes his team made during the game, he believes the team’s dynamic will only get stronger with time.
“I mean, for sure, we had some mistakes on defence and on offence, myself I threw two picks,” Latendresse-Regimbald said. “I think the only way for the upcoming season is up. I think that is the lowest of our capabilities. I think it’s just starting, the whole team is changing, we are changing the whole mentality of the McGill Redbirds and I think it’s a good start.”
Coach Ronald Hilaire echoed Latendresse-Regimbald’s sentiments.
“We are not a finished product yet, but we showcased that we can be a very good team when we are disciplined and limit mistakes,” said Hilaire in an interview with the Tribune. “I think almost 700 yards of offence is amazing but defensively we let them down a little bit with some big plays.”
For now, the team looks poised for their first win this weekend at Sherbrooke, hoping not to repeat last year’s record of 1–7. Head coach Ronald Hilaire remains hopeful about the quality and potential of his players.
“[We need to] improve every week. The reality is, if we do that, we stay on that beat, we will be pretty dangerous come playoffs.”
McGill comes home again on Sept. 24 to face the currently undefeated University of Montreal.
Stat Corner: McGill’s William Langlais, a fourth-year tight-end, led the game in receiving yards with 152.
Moment of the game: After being down by 18 to start the second quarter, quarterback Éloa Latendresse-Regimbald fed running back Benjamin Bergeron-Spenard the ball for a thrilling touchdown dive that reignited the fans and players alike.
Quotable: “We will fix it up and the reality of the season is that it is not a story of one chapter, it is one of many chapters, so I think we will keep growing as the season goes on.” —Head Coach Ronald Hilaire on the potential of his team.