It has almost become a tradition. The Laval University Rouge et Or offered themselves a 19e consecutive appearance in the Dunsmore Cup, not without difficulty, after defeating the Concordia Stingers 38 to 27 on Saturday afternoon.
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This victory opens the door to another fall tradition, that of a Dunsmore Cup against the sworn enemy, the Montreal Carabins, who defeated the Sherbrooke Vert & Or on Saturday afternoon. This will be the ninth consecutive duel in the final for the two rivals.
But to deserve the right to continue their season, the Rouge et Or had to work hard on their ground, where the summer temperature reigned worthy of the first duels of the season. The Stingers were bold and aggressive, especially early in the game. The strategy paid off, and quickly beyond that.
Head coach Brad Collinson kicked off the game with a short kick recovered by Dawson Pierre. Quarterback Olivier Roy then threw a 37-yard bomb that Jeremy Murphy caught. Two plays later, that same Murphy celebrated the first touchdown of the game.
The Laval attack responded in the series to the next attack with a touchdown run by Alex Duff, followed a few moments later by another major from Antoine Dansereau-Leclerc.
“We had a difficult start to the match, like the other time here at home. [La défensive] showed character. They responded well to adversity and we got back together,” summed up head coach Glen Constantin, happy to have seen his team not be destabilized by the start of the game.
In a post-game interview, the Rouge et Or honcho recalled his flock’s lack of execution, particularly in the second half. “The ground game starts with a good throw-in. When you don’t have a good handover, it breaks the execution of the game. We picked up second and long often like last week.
Kevin Mital made sure to add his two cents in the final moments of the first half. He struck twice, 99 seconds apart, to give the Rouge et Or a 17-point lead just before returning to the locker room.
It’s the fourth straight game with at least one touchdown for the star wide receiver, but he wasn’t happy with the way things went.
“We are going to play better [la semaine prochaine], that’s for sure. We made a lot of mental mistakes, we took a lot of unnecessary penalties after the whistle. We will correct that and we will be ready for next week.
Work to do
Quarterback Arnaud Desjardins made the same observation. If he was happy with the result, the way to get there left a bitter taste in his mouth. “We are in the playoffs and all we want is to win. But the way, for sure it was harder in the second half. We have a lot of things to work on,” summarized Desjardins.
The second-year center had another good game with 24 of 30 completions for 321 yards and three touchdowns.
Author of a touchdown and a spectacular catch where he did a back somersault while being tackled, center-back David Dallaire deplored the many errors and “unnecessary penalties”.
“It’s a playoff game. Anything can happen, but we still responded well after all.”
No less than 10,420 spectators attended the match played in summer temperatures, the largest crowd for a semi-final since 2011… The Dunsmore Cup will be played next Saturday, at 2 p.m., at TELUS-UL Stadium …
“We put everything on the table” – Brad Collinson
Stingers head coach Brad Collinson played bold on the field at TELUS-UL Stadium, and the strategy paid off, but not enough.
“You have to play 60 minutes against them. I said this at the beginning of the week: you have to be almost perfect. We weren’t perfect. We put everything on the table. We said to ourselves: “we come here to play 100%, we give everything”. It’s just that it didn’t come out well for us, ”said Collinson after the handshake with his Rouge et Or acolytes.
He obviously would have liked a different outcome, but a strong feeling of pride inhabited him. He particularly appreciated the way his players reacted after the two quick touchdowns just before halftime.
“We’ve been through that before. We have already experienced everything that has happened here. The difference between the other times [et le match d’aujourd’hui], is that we continued. Hats off to the coaches, hats off to the kids who never gave up.”
Author of three touchdown passes, Olivier Roy knew “that you had to be perfect” to defeat the Rouge et Or at home. His afternoon at work was not easy, as he suffered three quarter sacks. He finished the game with 16 completions on 29 attempts, passing for 283 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s not a hiding place. We are an aggressive team. We knew we had to take chances if we wanted to have a good score in the end. That was the watchword this week. […] Of course it always starts a match well, but you have to keep that intensity for 60 minutes if you want to hope to win, ”he said.
Spicy lyrics by Kevin Mital
While he didn’t do as much damage as usual on the pitch, Kevin Mital made sure to get into the heads of his rivals with his words. And he’s had quite a bit of success in that regard.
Throughout the match, the Rouge et Or star pass receiver did not let go of his rivals, multiplying verbal provocations. He marched in front of the Stingers bench, saluting them like Queen Elizabeth II during a parade, after the touchdown that brought the score to 37-20 in the fourth quarter.
“I disturb the opponent all the time. When you get into the head of the coaches and they come to talk to you at halftime, you know that three quarters of the job is done. You just have to do the rest on the pitch,” said Mital.
The latter seems to have the number of the Stingers this season. Including the regular season, Kevin Mital has 14 touchdowns since the start of the season. Half of those came against Concordia.
“I play for that, for the crowd, to put on a show. Me, I like it, and them others, it looks like they didn’t like it today.
Mital’s spicy lyrics have no more at all. Head coach Brad Collinson did not appreciate the behavior of the chatterbox and number 8 of the Rouge et Or.
“I don’t want to talk about him,” he simply dropped after a question on the subject.
Keep your energies
Glen Constantin said you have to make sure you keep your focus on the field, where things really matter.
“It’s been two weeks since it happened. It’s a bit of a special scenario with a lot of coaches who have played here. [Un match] which is very, very emotional. We have to keep our energies and our focus on our vision of the game and not win the battle for trash talk“, he wisely recalled.