Rainy weather and grey skies set the mood for the Oct. 2 homecoming game as the Laval Rouge et Or (3–2) dominated the McGill Redbirds (1–4), coming away with a 55-2 win in their second encounter of the season. Despite the 2,000 game tickets sold, the crowd was meagre, huddling under the rain cover in the bleachers. The low energy seemed to trickle down onto the field.
The Rouge et Or opened up the scoring with a touchdown by receiver Kevin Mital just over a minute into the first quarter. After Laval jumped to a 9-0 lead, McGill managed three first downs in a row, edging their way up the field with strong rushes by first-year running back Elijah Williams and an impressive pass reception by second-year wide receiver David-Amani Kabwe.
Trouble kept adding up for the Redbirds as quarterback Dimitrios Sinodinos made several incomplete passes and narrowly avoided a turnover when Laval fumbled a pick. Two overshot snaps by the Redbirds led to turnovers, giving Laval more opportunities to move up the field. Laval forced six McGill safeties throughout the game, as the Redbirds tried to fend off their rivals’ ever-growing momentum, which eventually turned into an insurmountable lead. Unfortunately, the Rouge et Or outran McGill several times, making few errors and a lot of headway on the scoreboard.
Coming out of the half, Laval led 42-0, but McGill managed a 13-yard safety in the third quarter that prevented a complete shutout.
Overall, the second half proved to be more of an evenly matched game, with the Rouge et Or only outscoring McGill 13-2 in the final two quarters, a much better showing than the first half.
Laval was never going to be an easy team to beat—this game followed the first two-loss streak the team has had in almost 20 years, and they were desperate to turn things around.
Wide receiver Kabwe was disappointed with the result, but said he is looking forward to the opportunity for redemption.
“It was an embarrassing game for us, because we know that we can compete with any team,” Kabwe wrote in a message to The McGill Tribune. “You have to remember that we played Laval in our first game of the season and we showed up, unlike yesterday.”
Williams shared Kabwe’s sentiments, noting that the poor weather conditions may have dampened their mindsets.
“Things just didn’t go as planned for us,” Williams said. “I felt the weather brought the energy and tone down, [while] the other team was simply there to play. But football is a tough sport and you have to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Most importantly, we have to execute more on special teams.”
The team hopes to redeem themselves next weekend against Sherbrooke on Oct. 9. The away game is their only remaining chance to make the playoffs, as Sherbrooke and McGill have matching 1–4 records and either could qualify. Kabwe is confident that the Redbirds have more than enough fight left to challenge the Vert et Or.
“We are a young team, so it’s normal to be inconsistent right now,” Kabwe wrote. “Once we are consistent, we will be able to cause many surprises in the league.”
“We have a very good team and a great coaching staff, I’m not really worried about the next few games. I’m pretty excited to face this adversity!” — Second-year wide receiver David-Amani Kabwe
MOMENT OF THE GAME
The Redbirds paid tribute to McGill Football alum Michael Soles at a reception before the game. Soles passed away in July at the age of 54 after a 16 year battle with ALS. After playing for McGill, Soles went on to play professionally for the Edmonton Elks and Montreal Alouettes. Many of his teammates and family members were in attendance for the pre-game ceremony.
Elijah Williams led McGill in yards rushed, carrying the ball 12 times for a total of 60 yards.