Laval claims Desjardins Vanier Cup in record fashion
QUEBEC CITY – In the 46th edition of the Desjardins Vanier Cup, the top-ranked Laval Rouge et Or captured their sixth national title with a 29-2 victory over the Calgary Dinos before a sold-out hometown crowd of 16,237 at PEPS Stadium on Saturday.
In what was statistically the most commanding defensive effort in Vanier Cup history, the Rouge et Or held the powerful Dinos offence to just 140 net yards, bettering the previous Vanier Cup mark of 161 net yards allowed by the Guelph Gryphons in their 1984 victory over the Mount Allison Mounties.
Canada West and Mitchell Bowl champion Calgary came into the game having scored 35 points or more in five straight contests, including a 42-point average in three playoff duels.
“I am really proud of my guys, and I am thrilled to pull this off in front of a hometown crowd,” said Laval’s Glen Constantin, who with the win becomes the first head coach to win five Vanier Cup titles, surpassing the four crowns amassed by former Calgary bench boss Peter Connellan.
Winning the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as the game MVP was Laval running back Sébastien Lévesque, who racked up 168 yards on 30 carries and one touchdown. He had one additional major score negated by penalty.
“From a personal standpoint, this was a difficult season filled with injuries for me,” said Lévesque, whose 30 runs rank second all-time in single-game Vanier Cup performances. “I was really glad to come up with such a big performance for my teammates in a game like this. This was a team accomplishment, and my o-line was awesome today.”
With one sack and a team-high 4.5 tackles, defensive end Marc-Antoine Beaudoin-Cloutier claimed the Bruce Coulter Award as the MVP on the opposite side of the ball from the Morris winner.
“We had a great week of preparation,” said Beaudoin-Cloutier. “Our coaches came up with a fantastic game plan, and we executed it well.”
Laval quarterback Bruno Prud’homme connected on 10 of 13 attempts, including one touchdown. His top receiver was Seydou Junior Haridara, who caught five passes for 70 yards. Rouge et Or placekicker Christopher Milo kicked five field goals, tying a Vanier Cup single-game record held by Greg Vavra (Calgary, 1983) Frank Jagas (Western, 1994).
Laval becomes just the second team to win a Vanier Cup game before a hometown crowd, following the Toronto Varsity Blues, who captured the national title at Varsity Stadium in 1965 and at SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) in 1993.
The victory caps a perfect, 13-0 season for Laval. It marks the first time in CIS football history that a team wins 13 games in a campaign. The Rouge et Or accomplished the feat thanks to an expanded nine-game regular season in Quebec.
Calgary completed its third straight campaign with a defeat at PEPS Stadium, having lost both the 2008 Uteck Bowl to Laval and 2009 Vanier Cup to Queen’s at Quebec City.
A constant snowfall made this the first Vanier Cup played with the field covered in snow from start to finish.
For Calgary, two-time Hec Crighton Trophy winner Erik Glavic completed just six of 27 passes for 69 yards, including one interception. Galvic’s accuracy was considerably better than the statistics indicate, as his receivers repeatedly dropped well-targeted throws.
“This sort of result is obviously disappointing, but I’m really proud of my players,” said Calgary head coach Blake Nill, who now holds a 2-4 record in six career Vanier Cup appearances. “They left it all on the field.”
The victory extends Laval’s overall winning streak at home to 44 games, last losing at PEPS on September 19, 2004 with a 14-13 defeat at the hands of the Montreal Carabins. Laval is also now tied with the Western Mustangs for most Vanier Cup victories, both boasting six banners. Laval is undefeated in Vanier Cup appearances, while Western has had 12 visits to the national final.
Laval dominated the opening quarter, outgaining the Dinos 183 yards to 43 in net offence, and allowing but three. Lévesque opened the scoring for the Rouge et Or at the 4:27 mark, rumbling through his offensive line and into the open field for a 41-yard rushing major. Yannick Morin Plante capped Laval’s subsequent drive with a 40-yard receiving touchdown from Prud’homme. Milo posted his first field goal of the afternoon, a 12-yarder, before the quarter was out, to give Laval a 17-0 lead at quarter-time.
The Dino offence proved unable to break the Rouge et Or defenders, failing to capitalize on a fumble recovery in Laval territory, and suffering a net loss of three yards offence over the second quarter. Calgary's defence fared somewhat better in the second frame, forcing Laval to settle for three field goals by Milo. Laval yielded enough to concede a safety touch rather than punt from its own end zone, to leave the score 26-2 at the intermission.
Laval’s defence allowed Calgary just four first downs in the first half, forcing the Dinos into two-and-out situations on five of their eight drives.
Both teams settled into a defensive stalemate in the second half. Calgary's sole attempt at offensive points, a 39-yard field goal attempt by Aaron Ifield late in the third quarter, sailed wide. Lévesque had a 38-yard touchdown run called back for holding. Milo added his record-tying field goal with 1:31 remaining in the game, accounting for the only score of the second half and the final 29-2 tally.
The 47th edition of the Desjardins Vanier Cup will be played on Friday, November 25, 2011, at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.