MONTREAL, QC – The CFL might of banned horns for the Grey Cup, but the Montreal Carabins faithful brought them out loud and proud for the Carabins’ 29-3 win over the Western Mustangs in the Uteck Bowl on Saturday, clinching a spot in the Vanier Cup.
Just like the CFL’s eastern final, Quebec one-ups Ontario. Hamilton will be missing out on the air horns, but Kingston will be witnessing a sea of blue filled with them as they punch their ticket to the Vanier Cup, advancing to their second national championship since 2019.
It’s eerie, how similar the Uteck Bowl resembled the East final. Evan Hillock cosplaying as the U SPORTS Chad Kelly, a quarterback who had a monster season but struggled in a big postseason game. This game followed a similar pattern as a lot of football games, the winner of the turnover battle won the game.
The first touchdown of the game came from the Montreal Carabins. In the red zone, William Legault got wide open on a slant route for a score.
The offensive line generally goes unpraised despite having one of the most important jobs in football. Montreal’s line played excellent in the first half giving their star quarterback Jonathan Senecal plenty of time to go through progressions and extend plays.
Senecal’s counterpart Hillock didn’t have the same half. Hillock struggled out of the gate committing five turnovers. He threw three interceptions and fumbled twice. An irregular game for one of the OUA’ finest. He completed a little over 50 percent of his passes for 212 and no touchdowns.
Hillock’s third interception set up the Carabins in excellent field position. Montreal was unable to get the most out of the short field and had to settle for three points once again. The next drive for the Mustangs resulted in another turnover, with their third-year signal caller fumbling again. The defense was unable to hold the Carabins to a field goal and Carl Chabot punched in the game’s second major. Chabot was a standout player for Montreal, having 73 all-purpose on 11 offensive touches.
Even the backup quarterback Jerome Rancourt struggled with ball security. Specializing in short-yardage situations, Rancourt came in on what would seem like a usual quarterback sneak but fumbled for Western’s sixth turnover of the first half.
Montreal took advantage of their defensive dominance and closed the half with a 24-0 lead.
Western opened the second half, trying to slowly chip away at the massive hole they put themselves in. Midway through the third quarter, the Mustangs finally get on the scoreboard with a field goal. For the first time all game it was classic Western offense, multiple people getting touches and moving the ball with efficiency.
Despite having a better offensive performance, things still didn’t go Western’s way. On third-and-seven in the red zone, Hillock tried to hit Mohsan Jamal in the back of the end zone. Jamal trying to track the throw collided with a referee resulting in a turnover on downs. The receiver obviously unhappy with the play, got in the official’s face and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
An offense that has been so dominant in the OUA hit an RSEQ wall, only mustering three points and having a single drive that resembled the Mustangs that beat everyone in Ontario this year.
Jonathan Senecal picked up a weird knock, running into the bouncy castle-like barricade that surrounds the sidelines at the CEPSUM. That didn’t seem to affect his game too much, still being able to scramble and improvise like he did all first half. He had a fantastic game and played as advertised although he threw two interceptions.
“He’s one of the best quarterbacks that I’ve ever seen in U SPORTS football,” Western head coach Greg Marshall said at the Uteck Bowl media day. “Almost like a Tre Ford type of ability.”
Montreal’s third-year quarterback finished the game completing 21 of his 31 passes for 228 yards and added a touchdown. Senecal added 36 yards on the ground, surpassing 250 yards all-purpose. He even earned himself the Offensive Player of the Game award. The quarterback received the award surrounded by constant “MVP” chants from teammates and fans.
Nicolas Roy claimed the Defensive Player of the Game award. The defensive back was everywhere on the stat sheet. A fumble recovery, a sack, an interception, and tackles-for-loss. Roy was awesome.
The team elected to keep their hands off the trophy realizing that their journey was not over. Roy put it best in his post-game interview.
The job is not finished – Vanier Cup remains