Championships Vanier Cup

MONTREAL - The Montreal Carabins defence forced eight turnovers and held the high-flying Western Mustangs out of the end zone as they cruised to a 29-3 win in the 2023 Uteck Bowl before 5,100 fans at the CEPSUM stadium. With the win, the Carabins advance to the next Saturday’s Canada Life Vanier Cup, where they will be looking for their second title.

The Mustangs came into the game with the country’s highest-scoring offence, averaging 42.6 points per game overall. However, they could not get their offence untracked on a chilly Saturday afternoon. Carabin linebacker Nicolas Roy, the game’s defensive MVP, forced an interception on the Mustangs’ first drive, snuffing out what had been a promising sequence. Roy’s pick set the tone for a dominant performance by the Dunsmore Cup champions, as they held Western without a touchdown – the first time that has happened since the Mustangs beat Guelph 9-3 on Sept. 21, 2019.

Montreal opened the scoring late in the first quarter, as William Legault caught a six-yard pass from Jonathan Sénécal, the game’s offensive MVP. A pair of Carabin interceptions, by Bruno Lagacé and Louis-Philippe Gauthier, set up field goals by Philippe Boyer, as the hosts extended their lead to 13-0.

The Carabins put the game away in the final two minutes of the second quarter with a torrid stretch, much to the delight of the sellout crowd. After having turned the ball over themselves on an interception by Western’s Jackson Findlay, on the next play, Jeremiah Ojo sacked Hillock, forcing a fumble that Christopher Fontenard recovered on the Western 12. Two plays later, Carl Chabot found the end zone on a one-yard plunge and the hosts led 20-0. A single on the ensuing kickoff stretched the lead to 21. Just two plays after that, Roy recovered another Western fumble, setting up Boyer’s third field goal to give Montréal a halftime margin of 29-0.

The teams traded field goals in the second half, with Brian Garrity getting Western on the board late in the third and Boyer replying with his fourth of the day. A late Montreal safety touch rounded out the scoring.

Western’s eight turnovers – six in the first half – came on three interceptions, three fumbles and two turnovers on downs. Montréal, meanwhile, coughed ball up three times, with a pair of interceptions and a late turnover on downs. Discipline was also an issue for Western, as they took 15 penalties for 97 yards, while Montreal only caused four flags, for 35 yards.

Sénécal finished 21-for-31 for 228 yards, while Hillock was 15-for-29 for 212 yards. Sénécal was also Montréal’s leading rusher, with six carries for 38 yards, while Ethan Dolby led Western on the ground with 12 carries for 84 yards.

The Carabins, who will be making their fourth Vanier Cup appearance, will take on the winner of the Mitchell Bowl next Saturday at Richardson Stadium in Kingston, Ont. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.