The U Sports semifinals finally arrived last Saturday, featuring the Laval Rouge et Or and the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in the first game. The two teams came off miracle wins in their respective conference championship games. Laval beat the Montreal Carabins on a last second touchdown pass to quarterback Hugo Richard while Laurier scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to stun the Western Mustangs. The 2016 Uteck Bowl recap saw Laval Rouge et Or win 36-6 in front of 13,000 people and many more watching around the country on Sportsnet 360.
2016 Uteck Bowl recap — Laval victorious over Laurier
For the majority of the season, Laval was the best team in the country. They ended the regular season winning their last seven games. The Rouge et Or beat the Concordia Stingers 39-14 in the RSEQ semifinals, and then for the second straight time this season, they beat the Carabins in Montreal 20-17 at the Dunsmore Cup. Heading into the Uteck Bowl, they were the favourites.
Laurier Golden Hawks have been one of the top teams in Canada this year, they won their last three games and posted a 7-1 record in the regular season. In the OUA playoffs, they got a scare in the OUA semifinals when the McMaster Marauders almost came from behind, but Laurier still won 21-19. Heading into London for a showdown against the best team in OUA, Laurier beat Western 43-40 in one of the greatest Yates Cup games ever played.
For seven straight years, a school from the RSEQ has made the Vanier Cup.
Takeaways from the game
Laval’s offence was on-point
The Rouge et Or offence had a quick start to the game as they had two touchdowns in the first quarter. With 6:30 into the quarter, Richard capped off a ten play drive which saw the team march down the field for 100 yards on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Felix Faubert-Lussier. With 1:26 left in the quarter, Richard found receiver Jonathan Breton-Robert for a six-yard touchdown pass.
The Rouge et Or offence also had two rushing touchdowns in the game as Sebastien Serre had a three-yard touchdown run with three minutes left in the second quarter. It gave Laval, a 26-0 lead. In the third quarter, Richard had a two-yard touchdown run to give the Rouge et Or a 36-0 lead. Laval had 445 offensive yards in the game which included 267 yards on the ground. Richard completed 16 of his 24 passes for 191 yards and threw two touchdowns. He also had 82 yards on seven carries which includes a 25-yard run and his touchdown.
Laurier strong rushing game was non-existent
Heading into the Uteck Bowl, Laurier was second in the country in scoring with 341 points and averaged 42.6 points per game. A key part of their success of scoring came from their running game – they finished first in U Sports in rushing yards with 2,251 yards and rushing yards per a game with 281.5 yards. The Golden Hawk also finished second in rushing touchdowns with 21.
Throughout the season, Laval’s defence was third in U Sports for least amount of rushing yards allowed per game with 91.8. On Saturday, they limited Laurier to 121 rushing yards. Their second-string running back Levondre Gordon got hurt half-way through the game. He ended up with 12 yards on four carries. Third-string running-back Osayi Iginuan rushed for 55 yards on eight carries. Laurier only touchdown of the game came with 27 seconds left in the game as quarterback Michael Knevel connected with receiver Brentyn Hall for a 26-yard touchdown.
Laval’s receiver Felix Faubert-Lussier put on a show
Felix Faubert-Lussier was fantastic on Saturday for Laval as he was named Uteck Bowl MVP. He had four receptions for 86 yards including a 40-yard catch. He also had one touchdown in the game. Lussier also handled field goal duties. He made a 34-yard field goal and 27-yard field goal. He was perfect on the extra points, going 4/4.
Laval’s defence won the turnover battle
The Rouge et Or defence forced the Golden Hawks to commit four turnovers, including three fumbles and one interception. Rookie defender Adam Auclair led the way on defence as he had seven tackles and one forced fumble in the win.
“I’m really happy to be returning back to the big show,” said Faubert-Lussier.
“We lacked execution in the past two years in the way we played,” said Richard. “Now this year, we have played better obviously come backing in the Dunsmore Cup on the last play demonstrated showed character and now we know what we can accomplish in the Vanier Cup.”
This is third time in six years that the Calgary Dinos and Laval Rouge et Or have played against each other in the Vanier Cup. Laval captured their last championship in 2013 against the Dinos, winning 25-14. In 2010, Laval beat Calgary 29-2. Both games were in Quebec City at PEPS Stadium. Calgary has not won a national championship since 1995. Meanwhile, Laval has won two national championships in Hamilton, in 2004 and 2008.
Main photo courtesy of Drew Yates.