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Monday Morning Quarterback: No. 2 Rouge et Or edge No. 3 Carabins 12-7 in Quebec football showdown

Andrew Bucholtz

Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the week

Football

No. 2 Rouge et Or edge No. 3 Carabins 12-7

This week saw plenty of notable football clashes, but perhaps the most significant came from the Laval Rouge et Or’s 12-7 road win over the Montreal Carabins Saturday. The twice-a-year regular-season matchups between Laval and Montreal have usually determined first place in RSEQ, and have often provided an early look at the Dunsmore Cup (the Quebec championship, played between these two teams for the past five years and seven of the last 10, and won 25-22 by Laval last season) and have sometimes even given us a glimpse of who might win the Vanier Cup (the national title, won by Montreal in 2014 and by Laval five times in the past 10 years). So when the Rouge et Or and Carabins play, it’s often a close game, frequently a defensive struggle, and almost always a notable game. And all of those elements were there Saturday.

Montreal put together an impressive drive early in this one, but Laval defensive back Gabriel Ouellet came up with a big interception. And from there, the Rouge et Or managed a drive of their own, setting kicker David Côté up for a 40-yard field goal. The sides went back and forth from there, but the only second-quarter scoring came from a 37-yarder from Côté, and the third quarter saw another Ouellet interception that turned into a Côté field goal, this time from 34 yards out. The Carabins were finally able to put a touchdown on the board in the fourth quarter when quarterback Dimitri Mourand snuck in from a yard out, but Laval extended the lead to 12-7 on Côté’s last field goal of the day (a 26-yarder, making him a perfect 4-for-4) with 1:52 left, and the Rouge et Or defence sealed it from there.

It’s not surprising that Ouellet was again a hero for Laval against Montreal, as he recorded four interceptions in these teams’ last regular-season meeting (on Oct. 22 last fall), tying a U SPORTS record. But he had some help; in addition to the big days from Ouellet and Côté, the Rouge et Or got a match-high 12 tackles plus two sacks and a forced fumble from linebacker Dan Basambombo, plus further sacks from Mathieu Betts (currently ranked as the #2 prospect in the CFL scouting bureau rankings), Kean Harelimana and Vincent Desjardins. That sack gave Betts 29.5 for his university career, third all-time in Quebec football history, behind only Ottawa’s Sean Clark (30.5) and Queen’s Jim Aru (31.5) from the days of the old Ontario-Quebec Intercollegiate Football Conference. And quarterback Hugo Richard completed 20 of 29 passes (69.0 per cent) for 212 yards, giving him 8,700 for his career and moving him past former Laval quarterback Benoit Groulx as the Rouge et Or QB with the most career passing yards. (He’s now fourth in Quebec football history.)

There were some significant games involving other members of the Top 10, too. Fresh off their upset win over the then-No. 7 McMaster Marauders discussed in last week’s MMQB, the No. 9 Ottawa Gee-Gees pulled off another upset as per the rankings, narrowly besting the No. 8 Guelph Gryphons 12-10 at home thanks to strong play from their defense and special teams. In particular, defensive back Cody Cranston blocked a late 54-yard field goal attempt from Gabriel Ferraro that would have given Guelph the lead.

Elsewhere, the No. 5 Calgary Dinos thumped the No. 6 UBC Thunderbirds 57-7 at home in their season opener Friday, bolstered by two receiving touchdowns (one a 107-yard school record strike) from rookie Tyson Philpot:

Meanwhile, the No. 7 Carleton Ravens edged the Waterloo Warriors 21-18 on the road Saturday, thanks to a last-second 22-yard field goal from Mike Domagala:

And the No. 10 Saskatchewan Huskies beat the Manitoba Bisons 48-46 on the road in the Bison Bowl Friday, bolstered by three touchdowns from Colton Klassen (two receiving, one rushing). Here’s one of his touchdown grabs:

Outside the Top 10, the Concordia Stingers came away with an incredible 22-20 home win against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or Saturday thanks to a remarkable last-second touchdown grab from James Tyrell:

Women's Rugby

No. 7 Gryphons pull off 39-34 road win against No. 4 Gaels

The women’s rugby season is underway in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and the No. 7 Guelph Gryphons posted one of the most notable victories this weekend, taking down the No. 4 Queen’s Gaels 39-34 in their season opener on the road Saturday. Guelph took a 29-5 lead into halftime before Queen’s battled back, but it was too little, too late. The Gryphons were boosted by two tries from Brodie Schmidt and single tries from April Wright, Erika Barton, Amara Hill, Rebecka Sundell and Emily Frasson.

Elsewhere in women’s rugby, the No. 1 (and defending champion) Ottawa Gee-Gees beat the Sherbrooke Vert et Or 43-17, the No. 3 Laval Rouge et Or (who lost to Ottawa 24-12 in their season opener and the title rematch last Monday) defeated the McGill Martlets 79-0, and the No. 10 Acadia Axewomen thumped the UPEI Panthers 116-12.

Men's Soccer

Varsity Reds hold No. 1 Capers to a 1-1 draw 

The national champion and No. 1 Cape Breton Capers started their season with just a 1-1 home draw with the UNB Reds Saturday. Rookie Daniel Williams scored for Cape Breton in the 51st minute, but Alex O’Brien responded for UNB in the 84th minute. Keepers Ben Jackson (Cape Breton) and Evan Barker (UNB) each made four saves.

Cape Breton bounced back with a 4-2 home win over the Moncton Aigles Bleus Sunday, while UNB lost 2-0 on the road to the St. FX X-Men. Elsewhere in men’s soccer, the No. 2 York Lions were held to a 1-1 road draw by the No. 9 McMaster Marauders Friday, but McMaster lost 2-0 on the road to the No. 7 Guelph Gryphons Sunday. That match (which came on the heels of a 5-2 Gryphons’ victory over the Brock Badgers Saturday) saw Jace Kotsopolous become Guelph’s all-time leading scorer:

Meanwhile, the No. 4 Ryerson Rams were held to a 0-0 road draw by the No. 5 Carleton Ravens Sunday, and the No. 6 UBC Thunderbirds beat the Thompson Rivers WolfPack 2-0 Friday and the UBC Okanagan Heat 3-1 Saturday.

Women's soccer

Ridgebacks take down No. 5 Gaels

The UOIT Ridgebacks picked up quite the impressive win Friday, beating the No. 5 Queen’s Gaels 2-0 at home. Georgia Wilder scored her first career OUA goal for UOIT in the seventh minute, while Taijah Henderson added her first of the season and 20th overall in the 72nd minute. Olivia Tierney made 11 saves to earn her second career OUA shutout.

Queen’s bounced back with a 7-2 road win over the Trent Excalibur Sunday, while UOIT carried on with a 3-1 home win over the RMC Paladins. Elsewhere, the No. 1 Montreal Carabins beat the Bishop’s Gaiters 3-0 Friday at home, while the No. 2 Laval Rouge et Or were held to a 2-2 home draw against the UQTR Patriotes Friday.

Social media posts of the week

Canadian women shine at World University Wrestling Championships 

The World University Wrestling Championships saw plenty of U SPORTS athletes and coaches involved, and they turned in some impressive results. That was especially true on the women’s side, where Canada won the team title.

Meanwhile, Ravi Seth of the University of Waterloo and David Mill of the University of Western Ontario are amongst the five Canadians in the ongoing World University Squash Championships in Birmingham, England.

In cross country, Laurentian University athletes took the top four places on the men’s side and the top five on the women’s side in the Laurentian Open. And in women’s hockey, several U SPORTS alumni are amongst the 59 players invited to Hockey Canada’s Fall Festival.