In the other RSEQ semifinal, the number two seed and No. 1 nationally-ranked team Laval Rouge et Or will play the third seed Concordia Stingers. These two opponents know each other quite well as it is third straight meeting between two universities in the RSEQ semifinals. The last two meetings were blowouts as Rouge et Or beat Stingers 74-18 two years ago and won 52-8 last year. The last time the Stingers beat Laval Rouge et Or in the playoffs was in 2002 with a 29-21. Here is the RSEQ Semifinal 2 preview.
RSEQ Semifinal 2: Rouge et Or vs Concordia Stingers.
The Rouge et Or head into the RSEQ playoffs riding a seven game winning streak while on the other side, the Stingers barely made the playoffs. The Stingers beat the Bishop’s Gaiters, 39-6 last Saturday and got help from the Rouge et Or, who beat the Sherbrooke Vert et Or. The Rouge et Or had a solid regular season where they outscored their opponents 246 to 59 in points.
The Rouge et Or had two blowout wins this year, beating the McGill Redmen 61-9 and beating the Mount Allison Mounties 49-4. Their closest games were against the Montreal Carabins. They split series at one. In the first game of the season, the Carabins won 24-21 in Quebec City. A month later, the Rouge et Or got their revenge by beating them in Montreal, 22-19.
On the opposite sideline, the Stingers had to deal with many obstacles this season. They had a 4-4 record with one blowout lost to Carabins, 59-3. They lost to both McGill and Sherbrooke.
The Stingers and Rouge et Or only met once in the regular season. The Rouge et Or rolled to a 37-18 win. In that game, the Stingers gave up three safeties. The Stingers only scored one offensive touchdown – a two-yard run by quarterback Trenton Miller.The touchdown came with 1:42 left in the game.
Here are the keys to the game.
Keys to the Game
Quarterback Duel — Laval’s quarterback, Hugo Richard returned to his RSEQ MVP year this season, passing for 2,095 yards on 162 completions with 237 attempts. He threw 13 touchdowns passes and ran for another eight this season. He averaged 261.9 yards per game. On the other side, Concordia’s Trenton Miller had an up and down season following last season’s MVP year. Miller threw for 2,197 yards on 177 completions with 304 attempts. He had nine touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns in seven games. He averaged 313.9 yards per game. In the last meeting between two quarterbacks, Richard threw for 209 yards with a touchdown and pick while Miller threw for 361 yards.
This game will likely be decided in the two quarterbacks’ hands which means both quarterbacks will need to hit their favourite targets. Miller favorite target this season was rookie Vincent Alessandrini. Alessandrini led the RSEQ in receptions with 52. He also had 514 receiving yards and one touchdown. Richard’s main target was fifth-year receiver Félix Faubert-Lussier. In seven games this season, Faubert-Lussier caught 30 passes for 440 yards and three touchdowns.
Defence wins games — The Rouge et Or defence has been tough to score on this season as they had 9.8 points allowed, second in the RSEQ, and allowed 202.3 passing yards per game. Led by Mathieu Betts, they know how to take down the quarterback. They had 24 sacks, including nine from Betts. On the other side, the Stingers are very good at stopping the run as they only allowed 150.8 rushing yards per game this year. The Stingers defence had 13 interceptions, second in the conference and fifth in the nation.They had 21 sacks, including six from Samuel Narkaj.
Can the Stingers rushing attack win the day — The Stingers have relied on Trenton Miller in the passing game for most of the regular season. They averaged 88.3 rushing yards per game which was near the bottom in the nation. Running back Jean-Guy Rimpel had 514 yards on 112 carries and scored four touchdowns in eight games this season. Without Trenton Miller in the lineup, Rimpel stepped up big time in the running game last week, rushing for 234 yards on 36 carries (New RSEQ game record) and scored three touchdowns in the win. Will Rimpel be able to find holes in the Rouge et Or defence?
Main photo courtesy of Steve Russell.