The Laval Rouge et Or are Vanier Cup bound after toppling the undefeated Western Mustangs 27-20 in the Mitchell Bowl on Saturday.
The defending Vanier Cup champion Mustangs came out of the gate hot, putting up 17 unanswered points through the first quarter. Savaughn Magnay-Jones opened the scoring with a 36-yard touchdown catch early in the frame, Brian Garrity added a field goal, and Lourenz Bowers-Kane corraled a high Laval snap in the endzone to set the stage for what looked to be a rout of the RSEQ champs, before the Rouge et Or battled back.
Laval scored four points off the leg of Vincent Blanchard before halftime but stonewalled the Mustangs’ onslaught thanks to a blocked field goal by Hugo Larue. Unsatisfied with simply kicking it in the second half, the Rouge et Or gambled on a fake field goal on third-and-12 early in the third. Blanchard shovelled the ball to Etienne Amiot for an 18-yard gain, setting up a game-changing touchdown run from David Dallaire.
From there, the comeback was on and Dallaire added a second touchdown one drive later to jump out in front for the first time. An acrobatic tipped ball interception from Western defensive lineman Max Von Muehldorfer set up a short Garritty field goal to retake the lead, but the Mustangs would not score again. Blanchard added three more field goals in the fourth quarter while shutting down the Western offence, cruising to an upset victory.
Laval quarterback Arnaud Desjardins finished 18-of-28 for 265 yards and an interception in the outing but it was running back Kalenga Muganda who powered the offence, running for 173 yards on 24 carries. Linebacker Alec Poirier was the game’s top defensive player, notching 12 tackles.
For Western, OUA MVP Keon Edwards rushed 26 times for 126 yards but was held in check late in the game without his backfield partner Edouard Wanadi. Second-year quarterback Evan Hillock completed 17-of-31 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown.
The Rouge et Or will now remain in London, Ontario to play for the Vanier Cup in the Mustangs’ home stadium next week. They will face off against the Saskatchewan Huskies, who won the other national semi-final played on Saturday.