Laval Rouge et Or quarterback Hugo Richard is going back to the Vanier Cup one last time.
Richard, in his fifth and final year as Laval’s QB, completed 22-of-27 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Rouge et Or to a 63-0 rout of the St. F-X X-Men on Saturday in the Uteck Bowl. Richard was named the game’s MVP as he heads to his third consecutive Vanier Cup, Canada’s university football championship.
“I’m excited about the way we’ve been playing lately, and the fact we’ve been able to do it at home since the beginning of the playoffs,” said Richard. “We’re having a blast each week preparing for each game.”
The undefeated Rouge et Or’s score was the biggest total the team has piled up this season. Laval head coach Glenn Constantin thinks that the fact that the team “had a lighter day today” won’t hurt the group heading into the Vanier Cup.
“We’ve had our fair share of adversity against Montreal,” said Constantin, referring to three close wins during the season and in the league final against the Montreal Carabins, the Rouge et Or’s perennial rival.
“We understand no matter what who we play next week it’ll be a very, very tough opponent.”
X-Men head coach Gary Waterman believed there were a lot of positives for the Atlantic University Sports champions even in such a resounding loss.
“Definitely not the way we wanted to go, but you look at the group and I’m proud of that group,” said Waterman. “Maybe people didn’t expect us to win our conference. For us to be able to accomplish that and play so well at the end of the year leading to this, I’ll forever be proud of this group.”
St. F-X rookie quarterback Bailey Wasdal, who completed 7-of-16 throws, was philosophical in the wake of the crushing defeat.
“I think everything about this is just an experience,” said Wasdal. “At some point we have to come back and look at the film. It’s a little too fresh right now. I know when we look back at it there’ll be some positives to draw.”
Laval will try to capture its record tenth Vanier at home, after losing last year to Western in a 39-17 game played in Hamilton.
The Rouge et Or have won a record nine Canadian championships in the program’s 23-year history. The team lost twice in the final.
St. F-X found itself in a deep hole early into the game, with Laval scoring two touchdowns within three minutes of each other in the first quarter. Richard hit rookie receiver Vincent Forbes-Mombleau with a 15-yard pass, then threw a 28-footer to second-year receiver Mathieu Robitaille, both converted by kicker David Cote.
The X-Men conceded a safety to leave the score at the end of the quarter at 16-0.
Richard struck again early in the second quarter on a 14-yard pass and run to Forbes-Mombleau. The X-Men saw some hope when linebacker Gordon Whyte picked off a pass. Laval quickly returned the favour on the X-Men’s drive when Zack Fitzpatrick stole a Wasdal pass and ran it deep into the visitor’s zone.
Richard fumbled the snap on a first and goal and the visitors recovered the ball. St. F-X conceded another safety on a punt. Laval put another touchdown on the board late in the quarter, with Richard finding Forbes-Mombleau with a 15-yard pass for the receiver’s third TD of the game.
Following a blocked X-Men kick with 48 seconds remaining in the half, Richard found Benoit Gagnon-Brousseau alone deep in the end zone for another Laval TD to boost the lead to 39-0.
The Rouge et Or onslaught continued early in the first half with running back Alexis Cote powering 12 yards into the end zone. Laval backup QB Samuel Chenard took over from Richard, and promptly set up kicker David Cote for a 10-yard run and another six-points.
Both teams geared down in the final quarter because of the lopsided score.