Laval denies UWO Vanier berth

Laval University Rouge et Or OlivierTurcotte-Letourneau celebrates after his team won the Uteck...

Laval University Rouge et Or OlivierTurcotte-Letourneau celebrates after his team won the Uteck Bowl against the Western Ontario University Mustangs at Laval University in Quebec City, November 20, 2010. (REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:09 PM ET

QUEBEC CITY - The Laval Rouge et Or's dream of playing a Vanier Cup at home lives on.

The Western Mustangs' dream of returning to the Vanier Cup was shattered a few feet short of Laval's uprights.

The No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country pounded each other relentlessly defensively for 60 minutes. In the end, it was the Rouge et Or who came out on top 13-11 against the Mustangs to win the Uteck Bowl and the Canadian university football semifinal.

The Rouge et Or will play for the Vanier Cup next weekend in Laval. It's the first time a Quebec team will play at home for the prize.

It will be the sixth appearance in 11 years at the Vanier for the Rouge et Or. They are 5-0 so far in those games.

Laval kicker Christopher Milo gave the Rouge et Or the win with a 29-yard field goal with 1:46 left in the game. It was his fourth of the game.

But it wasn't over yet.

The Mustangs managed to get the ball inside the Rouge et Or 40 with seconds left on the clock.

Kicking the ball from the 45 was a long shot at best. Mustangs' kicker Lirim Hajrullahu who won the game with a last second kick against the Ottawa Gee Gees, gave the ball a real ride.

"It looked good when I kicked it but it just hit a wall," he said. "I knew it would be a tough kick because the wind was so strong."

The kicked dropped right in front of the crossbar, a couple of feet short of giving the Mustangs the win.

It was an exhilarating win for the Rouge et Or. They were ripe for the picking on Saturday but the Mustangs didn’t generate enough offence to do it.

"As a kicker, you always want to be put in a position to make a difference," Milo said. "I missed one early in the game (from 35 yards) and that could have been the difference the other way. I'm just so happy we came out on top."

For the Mustangs, it was a devastating loss. They came to the Laval madhouse where the Rouge et Or hadn’t lost a game in 42-straight and hung in long enough to have a shot at winning.

"It's just so tough right now," said Mustangs' running back Jerimy Hipperson who ran for 85 yards. "No one thought we had a chance and there are 45 guys in that room that worked their asses off and deserved something better."

The story to this game was simple: all defence and little offence.

It was a brutally physical game.

The Mustang defensive line did a tremendous job of shutting down the No. 1 offence in the nation and preventing them from scoring a touchdown.

Especially effective was defensive end David Lee who was simply too quick for the Laval offensive linemen. He was all over Laval quarterback Bruno Prud’homme all day.

“The guys I play with allow me to make the plays I made today,” Lee said, teary-eyed as most Mustangs were after the game. “I’m just so proud of the way the defence played. We played tough.”

Unfortunately for the Mustangs, their offence didn’t do much. Quarterback Donnie Marshall had his worse day as a Mustang. He ran well but he threw four interceptions and had trouble all day finding his receivers.

He was nine-of-19 for 61 yards.

“The way the defence played, we should have won,” said an upset Marshall. “I feel if I had played a good game, we definitely would have won. That’s what makes me feel the worst right now.

“You feel responsibility. It comes with the position. If I had made a throw at the end, we would have won.”

Mustang coach Greg Marshall suffered another difficult loss in a CIS semifinal, running his record there to 1-6.

“I’m proud of the way the team played,” he said. “We’re a young team. We aren’t losing many players. We’ll be back whether it’s here or somewhere else but we’ll be back.”


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