Laval returns to Vanier Cup, will look for record 7th title
Photo credit Yan Doublet
QUEBEC CITY (CIS) – The Laval Rouge et Or booked their ticket to the 48th Vanier Cup final thanks to a 42-7 Uteck Bowl win over the visiting Acadia Axemen, Saturday afternoon, in front of a raucous hometown crowd of 10,680 at TELUS-Université Laval Stadium.
Laval (11-1) will go for a record-breaking seventh CIS football title on Friday at Rogers Centre in Toronto, live on TSN and RDS at 7:30 p.m. The reigning 10-time RSEQ champions, who were denied a seventh banner a year ago when they suffered a heartbreaking 41-38 overtime loss to McMaster in Vancouver, await the winner of today’s Mitchell Bowl between Calgary and McMaster (4:15 p.m. kickoff).
The Rouge et Or extended a number of winning streaks with their convincing decision over Acadia. They have now won a CIS-record 58 straight games overall on home turf dating back to 2004; they improved to 7-0 all-time against the Axemen since their first head-to-head confrontation in 2002; and they are now a perfect 6-0 in Bowl games played in Quebec City. They also became only the third team to reach three consecutive Vanier Cup finals after Saint Mary’s (2001 to 2003) and Saskatchewan (2004 to 2006).
For the AUS champions, the Bowl drought continues. The Axemen (8-2) have now lost seven consecutive national semi-finals dating back to 1981.
Running back Maxime Boutin, a native of Quebec City, was named player of the game after he racked up a career-high 213 yards on 25 carries and an additional 30 yards on three receptions, including an eight-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound sophomore got the start after both Pascal Lochard and Guillaume Bourassa were scratched from the lineup due to injuries.
“The offensive line made me look real good today,” Boutin said. “On a lot of my runs, all I had to do was hit a huge hole. When our o-line plays like this, we usually have success.”
Laval head coach Glen Constantin was also very complimentary of Boutin and the big boys who play in front of him.
“Maxime is a very good running back, he could start for a lot of teams. But you have to give credit to our line. Even I could have run for 10 yards today,” Constantin joked.
The Rouge et Or took some time to get going and was only leading 3-0 after the opening quarter thanks to a 12-yard field goal by Boris Bede.
Things started to click on offence for the locals in the second frame and by halftime, Laval was up 18-0 and had outgained its rivals 301 total yards to 68. Running back Christophe Normand, with a three-yard touchdown run, Bede, with a punt single, and Boutin, with his eight-yard TD catch, put points on the board for the victors in the second stanza.
Normand’s major was set up by a 51-yard pass from Tristan
Grenon to Yannick Morin-Plante.
After a relatively calm first half, the two teams exchanged three long passing majors in the first seven minutes of the third quarter.
Grenon hit speedy wideout Mathew Norzil on 63 yards 2:36 in to make it 25-0 Laval. Acadia responded less than two minutes later with a 73-yard pass-and-run score from Kyle Graves to Andrew Healy. But the Rouge et Or had an answer of their own, a 24-yard TD pass from Grenon to Julian Bailey, who was wide open in the end zone.
Healy’s long scoring play was the only highlight of the day offensively for the Axemen, who gained more yards on that touchdown than they had in the entire first half.
Backup pivot Anthony Leduc rounded out the scoring for Laval with a nine-yard TD run five minutes into the fourth frame.
Besides Boutin, Grenon finished with solid numbers for the Rouge et Or. The fourth-year senior, in his first season as the team’s starter, overcame a slow start to complete 16 of 23 passes for 268 yards, three touchdowns and no interception. Norzil was his favourite target with nine catches for 148 yards and a score.
On defence, Vincent Desloges had three solo and three assisted tackles. Two-time CIS lineman of the year, Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, who was questionable all week due to an injury he suffered in the RSEQ final, had a pair of tackles for a loss.
In a losing cause, Graves, the two-time reigning AUS MVP, was held to nine completions on 20 attempts for 130 yards, one major and one pick. He also racked up a team-high 69 rushing yards on seven carries.
After being named MVP of the Atlantic conference final last Saturday thanks to a 181-yard tally, freshman running back Thomas Troop could only muster 20 yards on 13 runs.
Laval ended up dominating 581 to 260 in total yards and 33 to 14 in first downs.
“We started out ok defensively but offensively we had a hard time moving the ball. It was very physical up front and as the game wore on they wore us down,” said Acadia sideline boss Jeff Cummins. “They were bigger up front defensively and offensively and towards the end of the game, you could really see the difference. They exposed us and the things we could cover up against other teams we could not cover up against Laval. They did some things on offence that gave us some issues and we just got out-manned. Our guys did their best against a very good team and I wish Glen the best next week.”
GAME NOTES: TSN’s pre-game coverage of the 48th Vanier Cup kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday... Laval and Acadia had met earlier this season in interlocking play, on Sept. 15, with the Rouge et Or prevailing 31-7 at TELUS-UL Stadium… Laval is currently tied with Western for most Vanier Cup triumphs... The Rouge et Or have won their six CIS titles in seven tries, while Western has a 6-6 Vanier Cup record... In their three straight trips to the Vanier Cup from 2001 to 2003, the Saint Mary’s Huskies won the first two and lost in their attempt at a three-peat... Saskatchewan lost three consecutive national championship games from 2004 to 2006... Laval is now 8-4 all-time in Bowl games while Acadia is 4-9...
LAV: 3-15-17-7: 42
ACA: 0-0-7-0: 7
LAV-FG Boris Bede 12 14:32
LAV-TD Christophe Normand 3 run (Boris Bede kick) 2:29
LAV-RG Boris Bede 12:34
LAV-TD Maxime Boutin 8 pass from Tristan Grenon (Boris Bede kick) 13:54
LAV-TD Mathew Norzil 63 pass from Tristan Grenon (Boris Bede kick) 2:36
ACA-TD Andrew Healy 73 pass from Kyle Graves (Ryan Begin kick) 4:20
LAV-TD Julian Bailey 24 pass from Tristan Grenon (Boris Bede kick) 6:39
LAV-FG Boris Bede 17 11:55
LAV-TD Anthony Leduc 9 run (Boris Bede kick) 4:50