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Laval Rouge et Or win Vanier Cup with close win over Saskatchewan Huskies

LONDON, Ont. — The Laval Rouge et Or won the Vanier Cup on Saturday with a 30-24 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies at Western Alumni Stadium.

Kalenga Muganda and David Dallaire scored touchdowns and Vincent Blanchard kicked five field goals to help Laval win the Canadian university football championship for a record 11th time.

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Daniel Wiebe caught a three-yard touchdown pass for Saskatchewan with 4:58 left in regulation to make it a three-point game.

Blanchard kicked a 25-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining to give Laval a six-point lead. The Huskies got the ball back deep in their own end but the Rouge et Or took over on downs and ran out the clock.

Everett Iverson and Rhett Vavra had the other touchdowns for Saskatchewan. David Solie had a field goal for the Huskies, who were looking for their first Vanier Cup win since 1998.

Laval improved its all-time record in the championship game to 11-2. It was the Rouge et Or’s first title since 2018.

Saskatchewan running back Ryker Frank delivered the first big play of the game with a 44-yard run on the Huskies’ second drive. Solie put Saskatchewan on the board at 6:33 with a 20-yard field goal.

After missing both pass attempts on Laval’s first possession, quarterback Arnaud Desjardins settled in for the Rouge et Or’s second drive.

Laval marched down the field but couldn’t convert from the red zone, settling for a 15-yard chip shot by Blanchard.

With strong winds a factor at times on a sunny afternoon, both quarterbacks leaned on the running game in the early going and kept the passing primarily to short routes.

Saskatchewan quarterback Mason Nyhus guided the Huskies on a seven-play, 75-yard drive that led to the game’s first touchdown early in the second quarter.

Head coach Scott Flory decided to go for it on third-and-goal from the three-yard line and Nyhus found Iverson in the end zone at 13:45. Solie hit the convert to make it 10-3.

Kevin Mital, who won the Hec Crighton Award earlier in the week as the top player in university football, caught a 30-yard pass as Laval answered with a six-play, 76-yard drive capped by a three-yard TD run by Muganda on a direct snap.

Blanchard made the convert and added a rouge on the ensuing kickoff that gave Laval an 11-10 lead.

A 53-yard run up the middle by Saskatchewan running back Ted Kubongo put a charge into the pro-Huskies section of the north-end stands. Nyhus threw a three-yard TD pass to Vavra at 8:35, with a Solie conversion giving the Huskies a 17-11 advantage.

Blanchard booted a 28-yard field goal with 6:15 left to trim Saskatchewan’s lead. He added a season-best 49-yard field goal at the end of the half to tie the game.

There were pockets of Laval fans sporting red gear in the south stands at the 8,000-seat stadium, which was about three-quarters full for the matinee.

Saskatchewan’s defence delivered late in the third quarter as the Rouge et Or threatened at the six-yard line. A pass knockdown by Charlie Ringland was followed by a touchdown-saving tackle from Seth Hundeby.

Laval head coach Glen Constantin played it safe on third-and-goal from the three. Blanchard booted a 10-yard field goal at 3:25 that gave the Rouge et Or a 20-17 lead.

Mital was hobbled by an apparent leg injury but still managed to regularly flummox the Huskies’ defence. He took a shovel pass for a 27-yard gain to Saskatchewan’s 37-yard line on a play that ended the third quarter.

Desjardins nearly found Mital in the end zone on that drive but Katley Joseph was called for pass interference. Mital _ who was named game MVP — then took a direct snap, faked a run and threw the ball over the pack to Dallaire.

Both teams earned road victories a week earlier to qualify for the 57th edition of the Vanier Cup. Laval beat the defending champion Western Mustangs and Saskatchewan topped the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.

Laval won both previous meetings against Saskatchewan in the title game, topping the Huskies in 2004 at Hamilton and again in 2006 at Saskatoon.

Saskatchewan lost last year’s championship to Western at Quebec City.

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