U Sports Semifinals RECAP: Laval, Calgary headed for Vanier glory

Saturday, Nov. 19

mitchell_bowl_002

StFX (24), Calgary (50)

CALGARY (U Sports) – It was the home finale Calgary fifth-year quarterback Jimmy Underdahl had hoped for, but wasn’t sure he’d get.

Sparked by the return of Underdahl to the lineup, the University of Calgary Dinos earned a trip to the Vanier Cup Saturday with a 50-24 win over the StFX X-Men in the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Mitchell Bowl at McMahon Stadium.

Underdahl made his return to the lineup count, sparking Calgary to 32 second half points in his first action since suffering an injury October 14th.

The veteran pivot entered the game to start the second half for the Dinos and helped the Hardy Cup champions race away from the Atlantic University Sport champion X-Men, who had given Calgary all they could handle in the first half.

With the score 18-14 after 30 minutes, Underdahl took over for starter Adam Sinagra, who just a week earlier was named Hardy Cup offensive MVP, after guiding Calgary to the program’s 16th conference title.

Underdahl needed less than four minutes of action to stretch the Dinos lead to 32-14, en route to being named Mitchell Bowl MVP after going 11-for-16 for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“We just felt that Jimmy needed to play in the game at some point. We talked about putting him in about halfway through the second quarter. We decided to let Adam finish off the quarter and then at halftime we had another discussion just around if it was the right time or not,” explained Dinos head coach Wayne Harris of the QB switch.

“It wasn’t anything (Adam) had done wrong, we just wanted to have that opportunity to see just what Jimmy would be able to do in a game situation. We were confident that he’d be able to come in and execute, but until you get him in there with the bullets flying, you’re just not quite sure how he’ll handle all of that pressure with the injury he’s coming off of.”

The southpaw QB more than handled the heat, finding Hunter Karl on a 41-yard touchdown pass just two minutes into the half, before Calgary defensive back Hunter Turnbull picked off AUS MVP quarterback Tivon Cook on StFX’s first offensive play of the half to set the table for another Dinos major.

Underdahl made the most of the Turnbull interception, needing just two plays to reach the endzone, this time finding Jack McDonald on an eight-yard TD pass to extend the Calgary lead to 18 points.

Those quick strikes from Underdahl proved to be more than enough offence for the Dinos, who outscored StFX 22-3 in the third quarter alone.

“The whole week (coach) just said ‘stay ready’ and that’s what I did. I’m a fifth-year guy and I know how to do that,” said Underdahl, who went 5-for-5 for 119 yards to start the second half.

“I said it when I first injured myself…I’m not going to let this end my career and I’m really happy I was able to get back.”

It was a fitting conclusion to Underdahl’s home career, which included a year as a redshirt before four seasons down the depth chart behind the likes of starters Eric Dzwilewski and then Andrew Buckley.

For StFX, the game marked the second consecutive season the X-Men’s national title hopes came to an end at the hands of a Canada West opponent, after falling 36-9 at home in last year’s Uteck Bowl to the UBC Thunderbirds, who went on to claim the Vanier Cup.

“That third quarter really was our downfall. Credit to them – they came out and made some explosive plays on us in the third quarter and we just couldn’t generate consistent play on offence,” said StFX head coach Gary Waterman.

“Our kids played hard, but it’s a 60-minute game and you just can’t afford against a good team to have a little lapse. They took advantage and made the plays.”

The loss extended the AUS’ winless streak in national semifinal games to nine, with the 2007 Saint Mary’s Huskies the last Atlantic squad to advance to the Vanier Cup.

As for Calgary, they now have their sights set on the program’s fifth national championship, as they return to the big game after a two-year absence.

The Dinos will be looking for redemption in a rematch of their last Vanier Cup appearance, facing the Laval Rouge et Or, who downed the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks 36-6 in the Uteck Bowl earlier Saturday.

“It’d be unbelievable. That’s the goal. That’s what we’ve all been working towards since January,” said Underdahl of getting to the Vanier. “I can’t wait to go. I’m at a loss for words.”

The Vanier Cup is slated for Saturday, November 26th at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field. Tickets are available by visiting VanierCup.com

StFX                       07  07  03  07 – 24

Calgary                 05  13  22  10 – 50

SCORING SUMMARY

1st Quarter

CGY – Niko DiFonte 73-yard kickoff single, 0:03, 1-0 CGY

CGY – Team Safety, 5:28, 3-0 CGY

CGY – Team Safety, 9:13, 5-0 CGY

StFX – Dejuan Martin 25-yard TD pass from Tivon Cook (Jonathan Heidebrecht convert), 10:41, 7-5 StFX

2nd Quarter

CGY – Niko DiFonte 41-yard FG, 0:18, 8-7 CGY

CGY – Niko DiFonte 41-yard FG, 3:30, 11-7 CGY

StFX – Jonathan Heidebrecht 15-yard FG, 7:30, 11-10 CGY

StFX – Jonathan Heidebrecht 85-yard kickoff single, 7:30, 11-11

CGY – Joel Van Pelt 2-yard TD pass from Adam Sinagra (Niko DiFonte convert), 13:47, 18-11 CGY

StFX – Jonathan Heidebrecht 37-yard FG, 14:52, 18-14 CGY

3rd Quarter

CGY – Hunter Karl 41-yard TD pass from Jimmy Underdahl (Niko DiFonte convert), 2:00, 25-14 CGY

CGY – Jack McDonald 8-yard TD pass from Jimmy Underdahl (Niko DiFonte convert), 3:20, 32-14 CGY

StFX – Jonathan Heidebrecht 16-yard FG, 11:33, 32-17 CGY

CGY – Jeshrun Antwi 1-yard TD run (Niko DiFonte convert), 13:26, 39-17 CGY

CGY – Niko DiFonte 71-yard kickoff single, 13:29, 40-17 CGY

4th Quarter

CGY – Niko DiFonte 24-yard FG, 3:10, 43-17 CGY

StFX – Dejuan Martin 2-yard TD pass from Tivon Cook (Jonathan Heidebrecht convert), 10:19, 43-24 CGY

CGY – Cole Kussmann 1-yard TD run (Niko DiFonte convert), 13:50, 50-24 CGY

 

BOX SCORE

 

uteckchamps

Laval (36), Laurier (6)

Photo Credit: Yan Doublet

QUEBEC CITY (U Sports) – The Laval University Rouge et Or confirmed its spot in the 52nd ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup by defeating the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks by a score of 36-6 Saturday afternoon at TELUS-Université Laval Stadium.

Glen Constantin’s men won a seventh U Sports national semifinal game at home in as many tries, bringing their overall record to 10-4. The Rouge et Or reached the national final for the first time since 2013, when they hoisted the Vanier Cup in front of their supporters in a 25-14 win over the Calgary Dinos.

On Saturday, the RSEQ champions scored 29 unanswered points in the first half, forcing the Hawks to play catch-up football for the second consecutive week. Laurier was not able to pull the spectacular comeback this time, scoring their only points of the game with only 27 seconds remaining, allowing Laval to engrave its name on the Uteck Bowl for the sixth time after previous titles in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

The Rouge et Or’s head coach did not hesitate to call his team’s performance a “very good” one.

“In my opinion, this was one of our best game plans of the year. The execution followed. It was not perfect, but we played a very good game,” said Constantin, who is now 42-10 in playoff action.

Constantin was also delighted to be able to play for a national title, with a relatively young squad.

“There was a fairly significant youth in our team last spring. We added a good recruiting class, and we have seen them progress and gain maturity from week to week all season long. Every moment with this team is a special one, because it’s a team that grows up in front of us,” he said.

“The task was enormous, and I am very pleased with the effort of the whole organization,” added Constantin, at the helm since 2001.

As expected, Laurier head coach Michael Faulds was disappointed with his team’s performance, while praising Laval’s impressive work on the field.

“Obviously we thought we would have executed better,” he said. “Laval played outstanding, and Hugo Richard, his ability to run the ball early in the game was very effective. And we just couldn’t get enough first downs to keep their offence off the field, so we needed to do better on both sides.”

Among the Rouge et Or veterans who contributed to the victory, receiver Félix Faubert-Lussier, who was playing the final home game of his university football career. The fifth-year student-athlete also saw precision kicker duties being added to his tasks this week. Faubert-Lussier did well in both, with four catches for 86 yards and a touchdown and two made field goals in three tries, which earned him the player of the game award.

“He shows exceptional maturity and composure. He is quite special,” said Constantin.

Faubert-Lussier was pleased to be able to return to Hamilton, where he spent last summer. The 2016 fifth-round Tiger-Cats draft pick took part in training camp, before coming back to Quebec City to play his fifth and final season at Laval.

“Such an ending at home, I couldn’t ask for better,” he said. “We’re going back to the Vanier Cup! It will be a big week of preparation, but I am where I wanted to be.”

Laval had 445 offensive yards, while Laurier had 268. The Rouge et Or limited U Sports’ top rushing attack to only 121 yards.

“It is our pride to be able to stop the run. It was a little different from what we are used to in our conference, but it was not totally unknown. They also had excellent receivers, so the goal was to maintain a good balance,” said Glen Constantin.

The home team stroke first. Starting the drive from its own 10, Laval’s offense made 10 plays for 100 yards, a series that ended with a 23-yard pass from Hugo Richard to Faubert-Lussier for the touchdown. After the convert, it was 7-0.

On its next possession, Laval added another touchdown when rookie receiver Jonathan Breton-Robert, the Dunsmore Cup player of the game a week earlier, added a six-yard catch-and-run play for the TD, completing a 60-yard series.

Laval then blocked a Laurier punt and recovered deep in the Hawks territory. The turnover allowed the Rouge et Or to add three points on a 27-yard field goal from Faubert-Lussier at the start of the second quarter. The visitors then conceded a safety to put Laval ahead 19-0.

With just under four minutes to play in the first half, the RSEQ champions added a touchdown when running back Sébastien Serré carried the ball, a three-yard play that put the Rouge et Or ahead 26-0. Faubert-Lussier kicked another field goal before the end of the half, and Laval was already up 29-0 after 30 minutes.

Laval crossed the field in the middle of the third quarter after a fumble was recovered by linebacker Marc-Antoine Varin. The Rouge et Or couldn’t take advantage of it though, as they dropped the ball themselves deep in Laurier’s territory.

The Rouge et Or would add to its lead on its next possession. At the Hawks’ 37-yard line, Laval took three plays to score the fourth touchdown of the game on a 2-yard rush by Hugo Richard. Laval was in control, 36-0.

The Hawks would not give up, even though time started to become a factor. Laurier managed to avoid the shutout thanks to a touchdown on a 26-yard pass from Michael Knevel to Brentyn Hall. Laurier missed the two-point conversion, leaving the score at 36-6 at the final whistle

Scoring Summary

Online Stats: STATS

WLU 0-0-0-6: 6
LAV 14-15-7-0: 36

First Quarter
LAV – Félix Faubert-Lussier 23 pass from Hugo Richard (Félix Faubert-Lussier convert), 8:30 (7-0 LAV)
LAV – Jonathan Breton-Robert 6 pass from Hugo Richard (Félix Faubert-Lussier convert), 13:34 (14-0 LAV)

Second Quarter
LAV – Félix Faubert-Lussier 27 field goal, 1:38 (17-0 LAV)
LAV – Safety, 3:03 (19-0 LAV)
LAV – Sébastien Serré 3 run (Félix Faubert-Lussier convert), 11:06 (26-0 LAV)
LAV – Félix Faubert-Lussier 34 field goal, 13:46 (29-0 LAV)

Third Quarter
LAV – Hugo Richard 2 run (Félix Faubert-Lussier convert), 13:03 (36-0 LAV)

Fourth Quarter
WLU – Brentyn Hall 26 pass from Michael Knevel (Michael Knevel 2-pt convert missed), 14:33

Attendance: 13,256

BOX SCORE

 

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