On Sept. 17, the McGill Redbirds (1–2) were defeated in heartbreaking fashion by their long-time rivals, the Concordia Stingers (2–1) at the 52nd annual Shaughnessy Cup. The event sold out quickly, with 3,500 McGill and Concordia students clamouring to get a seat for what turned out to be a high-scoring, action-packed game.
McGill exploded out of the locker room onto the field, dominating offensive possessions in the opening minutes of the game. The team quickly picked up some points when quarterback Dimitrios Sinodinos lofted up a 60-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darius Simmons for a quick 7-0 lead with 9:22 left in the first quarter. Both teams played stifling defence for the remainder of the quarter, each forcing the other to take a safety, which brought the score to 9-2 for McGill.
McGill entered the second quarter with the same propulsive energy they brought to the first. Running back Elijah Williams left the crowd in awe with an eight-yard rush toward the end zone that left the Stinger defensive line reeling and the McGill crowd cheering. The Redbirds entered the locker room flying high with a 16-2 lead that seemed nearly impossible to lose.
The Redbirds kept strong momentum coming out of halftime with a 14-point lead. Concordia struck first with a safety, but, less than a minute later, McGill countered with a touchdown by defensive end Joshua Archibald—bringing the score to 23-4. After a Concordia touchdown and a McGill field goal by kicker Antoine Couture, McGill maintained a hefty 26-11 lead heading into the final quarter.
Although the fourth quarter started well for the Redbirds, with a touchdown from tight end Simon Crevier off a pass from Sinodinos, things went downhill from there. The Stingers’ offence, which up until then was passive and lumbering, started chipping away at McGill’s lead, scoring three touchdowns in the last eight minutes of the fourth to equalize from a 22-point deficit.
In a stunning turnaround, the Stingers’ offence pushed the Redbirds back to the 14-yard line and kicker Andrew Stevens sealed their fate with a field goal. The McGill crowd looked on in disbelief as cacophony erupted from the Concordia stands.
Sinodinos expressed his disappointment with the team’s inability to maintain their lead in the latter half of the game.
“I feel like we played pretty well up [until] the fourth quarter,” Sinodinos said. “At the end we just couldn’t seal it. We couldn’t keep our offence on the field long enough. Their offence was on the field for a pretty long time so they got a lot of momentum and were able to overcome a pretty big deficit in not a lot of time. We needed to get at least one more big drive at the end but we couldn’t make that happen.”
Third-year defensive lineman Nassib Hassouna, Jr. was pleased with the team’s performance in the first half and did not want to dwell on the loss.
“For sure, we had some difficulty at the end of the game, but at the end of the day we need to focus on the next game [and] we need to regroup,” Hassouna said. “We will be stronger next week.”
Sinodinos believes the key to victory will be sustaining their momentum until the game’s very last moments.
“It is definitely a question of consistency and being able to finish our game,” Sinodinos said. “So, [we will] continue doing what we did in the first three quarters, all the way to the end of the fourth quarter.”
“The crowd was crazy. From all the teams, we appreciate every single one of you and we will make it up for you.” — Third year Nassib Hassouna, Jr. on the lively crowd in attendance.
MOMENT OF THE GAME:
With less than 30 seconds left on the clock, the stadium waited with bated breath as the Stingers quarterback ran straight into McGill’s endzone to complete a two-point conversion, forcing overtime.
McGill running back Elijah Williams rushed for 94 yards in 13 offensive drives, the most running yards for anybody on either team.