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Goliath prevails: Laval ends Redmen season

Occasionally, David beats Goliath, but usually the bigger, stronger, better force has its way. Such was the case on Saturday afternoon as the Redmen saw their season come to an end in a 46-9 loss to the Laval Rouge-et-Or. Playing in its first playoff game since 2006, with only a 2-7 record, McGill was outmatched by a Laval squad that has captured two Vanier Cups in the same time period. Though the Redmen will rue what could have been if not for some key missed opportunities, making the playoffs this season has been a big step towards renewed prominence.

Despite the significant gap in talent between the two sides, McGill held its own in the first half, showing some of the promise that has been evident at times for the developing team. The Redmen jumped out to an early lead thanks to a 41-yard field goal by Sammy Rassy. Rassy would prove to be McGill’s highest—and only—scorer in the game, adding two more field goals in the first half, from 40 and 33 yards respectively.

The turning point in the half, and the game, came seven minutes into the first quarter. Tied 3-3, McGill seemed to have taken advantage of a back-and-forth field position battle when Redmen punter Thomas Silva pinned the Rouge-et-Or on their seven-yard line. However, the Redmen’s positive momentum was lost on the first play of the ensuing drive, as Laval quarterback Tristan Grenon connected with J.S. Haidara for a 103-yard touchdown pass. The score put Laval up 10-3, a lead that would never be relinquished. Laval added another major score, and McGill conceded a safety to make the halftime score 19-9.

The second half was marked by missed opportunities for the Redmen, which allowed Laval to blow the game wide open. The third quarter began on a positive note for McGill, who stopped Laval on their first drive of the half. Rookie running back Guimot Mota exploded for a 37-yard run that placed McGill in the Rouge-et-Or red zone with a prime chance to cut into the Laval lead. However, the Redmen were forced to kick a field goal, which Rassy missed off the left upright. McGill missed another opportunity after stopping Laval running back Guillaume Bourassa for an eight-yard loss. A roughing the passer penalty on the next play erased the positive defensive play, and the drive culminated in another Rouge et Or touchdown. Laval added 20 points in the final quarter for a final score of 46-9.

Despite two interceptions, McGill quarterback Jonathan Collin completed 20 passes for a total of 215 yards. Nearly half of those went to Dallon Kuprowski, who hauled in 116 yards in the loss. Laval, however, was able to crush the Redmen both in the air and on the ground, totaling 342 passing and 260 rushing yards.

As another season concludes for McGill, it seems that hope has been restored within the club. RSEQ all-stars Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Shaquille Johnson will both return next season and could lead the team to even greater success.

Despite a 2-7 record in 2012, the Redmen can take solace in the fact the team played hard against teams of much higher quality, and lost close games to those lower in the standings. Though reaching the level of the Rouge-et-Or in the near future is unlikely, gradual progress will be enough for a team far removed from its greatest days.

Laval will take to its home field again next Saturday in the Dunsmore Cup, welcoming the Sherbrooke Vert-et-Or in the RSEQ championship. The winner advances to the Uteck Bowl, one of two national semifinals before the Vanier Cup on Nov. 23.

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