Queen's upsets Laval for berth in Vanier Cup

Allin's 120-yard missed field goal return propels Gaels to 33-30 victory

The Gaels celebrate their 33-30 win over the Laval Rouge-et-Or in today's Mitchell Bowl at Richardson Stadium. They face the University of Calgary Dinos next Saturday in Quebec City.
The Gaels celebrate their 33-30 win over the Laval Rouge-et-Or in today's Mitchell Bowl at Richardson Stadium. They face the University of Calgary Dinos next Saturday in Quebec City.
Photo: 
Queen's quarterback Danny Brannagan is mobbed by fans while interviewed by The Score's D.J. Bennett. Brannagan threw for 306 yards in the Gaels' victory.
Queen's quarterback Danny Brannagan is mobbed by fans while interviewed by The Score's D.J. Bennett. Brannagan threw for 306 yards in the Gaels' victory.
Photo: 
Laval punt returner Guillaume Rioux is hauled down by a pair of Gaels during today's Mitchell Bowl. The Gaels upset the Rouge-et-Or 33-30.
Laval punt returner Guillaume Rioux is hauled down by a pair of Gaels during today's Mitchell Bowl. The Gaels upset the Rouge-et-Or 33-30.
Photo: 
Laval receiver Guillaume Rioux evades Queen's defensive back Stephen Laporte during Saturday's Mitchell Bowl at Richardson Stadium.
Laval receiver Guillaume Rioux evades Queen's defensive back Stephen Laporte during Saturday's Mitchell Bowl at Richardson Stadium.
Photo: 

Saturday, Nov. 21, 8:36 p.m.
Predictions for today’s Mitchell Bowl at Richardson Stadium assigned the Queen’s Gaels to an unfamiliar status. For the first time this season, they were the underdogs.

They won anyway and booked their ticket to next weekend’s Vanier Cup in Quebec City.

“Las Vegas went bananas, I’m sure,” Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan said.

The No. 1-ranked L’Université Laval Rouge-et-Or entered today’s game as the defending Vanier Cup champions. The Gaels’ 33-30 victory secured a trip to Quebec City to compete for their first national title in 17 years.

“You’re going to find out in the first couple of minutes that you can play with them,” Sheahan said. “At halftime we knew we could beat them.”

The Gaels led 17-10 at the half thanks to a last-second Dan Village field goal from 37 yards out. They expanded their lead to 26-13 late in the third quarter sparked off a Gaels returner Jimmy Allin returning a missed Rouge-et-Or field-goal attempt for an 120-yard touchdown-run. The run was the second-longest in CIS playoff history.

Allin said his run contributed more than just the seven points.

“The guys up front just made it easy for me. That was a big momentum boost for us,” he said. “It doesn’t even seem like real life right now.”

The Rouge-et-Or woke up in the fourth quarter. Two Laval touchdowns and a Queen’s conceded safety made it 33-30 with a minute left in the game.

A last-ditch attempt from Laval quarterback Benoit Groulx in the final minute was extinguished when Queen’s defensive lineman Osie Ukwuoma recovered the fumble forced by defensive lineman Frank Pankewich.

Groulx, the reigning CIS MVP, was sacked seven times in the game. Williams contributed three and a half sacks of his own, and earned game MVP honours.

“It’s just football, you know, I try to stay as calm as I can,” he said. “I was going with the mentality that I’m not going to let any one stop me. I can only stop myself.”

Williams said big game plays like sacks or Allin’s touchdown-runs motivated the team because of the crowd’s reaction.

“I could hear it in the crowd,” he said. “They get me all pumped up. It’s definitely a momentum-changer. Every time we get a sack it’s a great feeling.”

Next weekend is the Gaels next game, regardless if they win or lose.

The University of Calgary Dinos defeated the Saint Mary’s Huskies 38-14 in the Uteck Bowl today in Halifax. The Dinos and the Gaels will travel to Quebec City for the Vanier Cup Canadian Championships in Laval’s Stadium.

The Gaels probably won’t be expecting much Laval fan support after a portion of the Queen’s crowd that rushed the field taunted the melancholy Rouge-et-Or sidelines.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.