Laval stuns Western in the Mitchell Bowl to advance to the Vanier Cup

RSEQ champion Rouge et Or take down the defending Vanier Cup champions to advance to their first Vanier Cup since 2018

The Laval Rouge et Or lived at the Vanier Cup in the 2010s, making the biggest game of the U SPORTS football season seven times in ten seasons and winning five.

On Saturday the Rouge et Or faced a chance to get back into the biggest football game in the country for the first time in 2018, they just needed to do the simple task of taking down the defending champion Western Mustangs.Despite a nightmare first half, the Rouge et Or fought all the way back for the 27-20 win to defeat the Mustangs and advance to the Vanier Cup. 

To enter the Mitchell Bowl, the Western Mustangs did what they had done all season prior and dominated. The Mustangs took down the Queen’s Gaels 41-16 in the Yates Cup a week prior to continuing their undefeated season. For the Rouge et Or, they took a much more difficult path, taking the Dunsmore Cup down to the last second against the Montréal Carabins before winning 25-24 on a rouge.

Early on, it was the Rouge et Or who struggled, and the Mustangs took advantage. After forcing a punt from the Mustangs on Laval’s first drive, Nicholas Thibodeau fumbled and turned it over at midfield. Two plays later, Evan Hillock found Savaughn Magnaye-Jones for the 36-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0 for the Mustangs. 

Late in the quarter, the Rouge et Or offence stalled out, and after punting to their 45-yard line, Hillock brought Western to the 38 where Brian Garrity sent his first field goal through the uprights to make it 10-0. 

Things continued to get worse for the Rouge et Or as Laval sent the snap over Arnaud Desjardins’ head, with Lourenz Bowers-Kane recovering it and taking it in for the touchdown to push the Western lead all the way to 17-0 after the first quarter. 

The Rouge et Or slowly began to work their way back in the second. Early in the second quarter Vincent Blanchard hit his first field goal of the afternoon to cut it to 17-3. The Rouge et Or then stepped defensively as Hugo LaRue blocked a pair of field goal attempts from the Mustangs to hold Western to 17 points at halftime. A rouge added another point for Laval that made it 17-4 at halftime. 

In the second half, halfway through the third quarter, it was David Dellaire on first and goal who slammed it in to make it a 17-11 game before, late in the quarter, doing it again. With 3:55 left, Dallaire found himself on the goal line again and punched in his second touchdown of the afternoon to make it 18-17 for Laval after three quarters. 

In the fourth quarter, Brian Garrity hit the early field goal to put the Mustangs up 20-18 but four minutes later, Vincent Blanchard adds one himself to make it 21-20 for Laval. 

The clock continued to tick down as the Laval defence continued to shut down the Mustangs, and with 90 seconds to play Blanchard added another to push the lead up to 24-20.

The Mustangs next drive saw Evan Hillock’s throw on third down to Griffin Campbell fell incomplete before Vincent Blanchard added another field goal to make it 27-20. With 30 seconds to play the Mustangs had the ball but they couldn’t get it across midfield and the clock ran out on the Western season.

The Rouge et Or move on to play the Saskatchewan Huskies who defeated the StFX X-Men 36-19 in the 2022 Uteck Bowl.

Cover Photo: @RougeetOr/Twitter

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