THE CANADIAN PRESS
This year’s Vanier Cup semifinals will look familiar to Canadian university football fans.
History was made on Saturday when Laval, Acadia, McMaster and Calgary all repeated as conference champions to advance to the CIS football semifinals. The same four teams had never made it to the national Bowl games in back-to-back years.
The RSEQ champion and second-ranked Rouge et Or (10-1) will host the AUS titlist and No. 9 Axemen (8-1) in the Uteck Bowl in Quebec City.
In the Mitchell Bowl, the OUA champion and top-ranked McMaster Marauders (10-0) will host the Canada West champ and No. 3 Dinos (9-1) in Hamilton.
Both games will be played on Nov. 17.
Laval, McMaster and Calgary all extended or established record streaks on Saturday.
The Rouge et Or added to their own all-time CIS mark with a 10th consecutive conference title. The Marauders won their 20th straight overall game dating back to Week 3 of the 2011 schedule to top Laval’s previous CIS record set from 2004 to 2005. The Dinos became the first team in history to capture five straight Canada West banners.
In last year’s national semifinals, McMaster defeated Acadia 45-21 in the Uteck Bowl (at Acadia), while Laval outscored Calgary 41-10 in the Mitchell (at Calgary). The Marauders then claimed their first-ever Vanier Cup title with a memorable 41-38 overtime win over the Rouge et Or in Vancouver.
No. 2 Laval 40, No. 10 Sherbrooke 17
At Quebec City, the Rouge et Or jumped to a 16-0 lead seven minutes into the game and never looked back en route to their 16th straight win over Sherbrooke since the Vert & Or joined the RSEQ league in 2003.
Sherbrooke cut the deficit to 16-10 midway through the second quarter but the locals responded with two quick touchdowns to go into the halftime break with a comfortable 30-10 cushion, to the delight of the capacity crowd of 14,914.
As expected, Laval dominated on the ground with 309 rushing yards to Sherbrooke’s 32. Maxime Boutin, with 119 yards on only six carries, and Guillaume Bourassa, with 19 rushes for 112 yards and a TD, both went over the century mark.
Rouge et Or quarterback Tristan Grenon completed 10-of-20 passes for 131 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also scored on a pair of one-yard plunges.
For Sherbrooke, the duo of Jeremi Roch and Sebastien Blanchard put up impressive numbers in the losing cause. Roch was 28 of 48 for 306 yards, one score and two picks, while Blanchard caught 12 balls for 182 yards.
No. 9 Acadia 17, Saint Mary’s 9
At Wolfville, N.S., the Axemen got all they could handle from Saint Mary’s but a remarkable defensive performance lifted them to their second straight AUS final win over the Huskies, in front of 2,678 fans. Acadia prevailed 39-20 in last year’s Loney Bowl.
Holding on to a slim 10-9 lead with less than seven minutes remaining, the Axemen sealed the win with two late safeties and a 28-yard Ryan Begin field goal with 52 seconds left on the clock.
Amazingly, Acadia’s defence allowed only one passing completion all afternoon, for a loss of five yards. Saint Mary’s finished with 97 yards of total offence and only nine first downs, including three on penalties.
Reigning two-time AUS MVP Kyle Graves was a modest 10 of 24 for 110 yards, one touchdown and one interception but the Axemen received a 181-yard rushing effort from conference rookie of the year Thomas Troop.
Jesse St. James led the way on defence with seven tackles, including 5.5 for losses and a pair of sacks, as well as a fumble recovery. Drew Morris had a game-high 10.5 tackles.
No. 1 McMaster 30, No. 5 Guelph 13
At Hamilton, OUA MVP Kyle Quinlan completed 80 per cent of his passes and added a team-high 70 yards on the ground as the Marauders took a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter and cruised to their second straight Yates Cup win, in front of a packed house of 5,427.
Guelph racked up 30 first downs to McMaster’s 20 but was hurt by three interceptions against quarterback Jazz Lindsey, who went 29 of 47 for 319 yards and also rushed four times for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Quinlan didn’t have to be spectacular to lead his troops to victory and was a consistent 16 of 20 for 265 yards, a pair of TDs and one pick. Michael DiCroce was his favourite target with seven receptions for 114 yards, while Robert Babic and Tyler Loveday each caught a TD pass.
Shane Beaton was all over the field on defence for the winners with a match-high 10 solo tackles, including three for losses, and a pass breakup.
No. 3 Calgary 38, No. 7 Regina 14
At Calgary, conference MVP Eric Dzwilewski passed for 381 yards and running back Steven Lumbala rushed 22 times for 251 yards as the Dinos broke open a close game in the third quarter en route to their-record setting fifth straight Hardy Cup victory.
Calgary’s Jake Harty set a Canada West record for a playoff game with 15 receptions, good for 168 yards. His 15 catches rank second on the CIS post-season list, one short of the national mark.
Dzwilewski completed 33 of 46 passes, including a 35-yard touchdown strike to Richard Snyder, but was intercepted three times. The third-year quarterback added a pair of rushing TDs, both from one yard out.
The contest was closer than the final score would indicate. Regina took a 14-11 lead midway through the third quarter but Calgary closed out the affair with 27 unanswered points.
Playing in his final university game, senior QB Marc Mueller went 26-of-40 for 316 yards, one score and one interception for the Rams. Landon Buch was on the receiving end of seven of his passes and finished with 144 yards.