The bowl games have been set for the national semi-final in CIS Football, with a similar cast to the games played last year. Actually a very similar cast, three of the four programs return with one newcomer. There's the change in venues but along with that a different route taken to get to this point as well. )
Going left to right the Hardy Cup, a hard-fought affair last season with a botched field goal clinching the win for the Dinos, was anything but this year. Following a surprise, upset win over Saskatchewan the week prior the Alberta Golden Bears did not fare so well against their provincial counterparts, and defending conference champions the Calgary Dinos. The game was a blowout 56-3 victory for Calgary, who have now won three straight Hardy Cup finals.
The Dinos Erik Glavic, still returning to form since he late season return, looked very sharp on the day, going 14-for-18 for 270 yards through the air and 4 touchdowns before taking a seat to rest for the coming week. The Dinos accumulated 581 total yards of offence while holding the Bears to 225 on the day. Calgary split the workload between six receivers, with four catching for more than 50 yards (Nathan Coehoon 85 yards 1 TD, Richard Snyder 80 yasrds 1 TD, Anthony Parker 69 yards 2 TD's, Steve Lumbala 55 yards). The Dinos also rushed six backs with two gaining more than 70 yards on the day (Anthony Woodson 79 yards, Matt Walter 77 yards).
Alberta's Julian Marchand passed for 113 yards and 2 interceptions, while Matthew Jarvis provided the rush attack with 78 yards on the ground for the Bears in the loss. It was an all around dominant display by the Dinos and one that sets them up well for the coming Mitchell Bowl game which they will host this year.
In Ontario it came down to the two 7-1 teams in the OUA with Greg Marshall's Western Mustangs looking to exact revenge for their one-point loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees in week two. They did just that thanks to a dramatic last-minute drive and last-second field goal for a 26-25 win and the Yates Cup championship.
In the back and forth contest, Ottawa converted a Matthew Falvo 19 yard field goal with just over a minute remaining to claim a 25-22 lead before a long, last minute drive orchestrated by Donnie Marshall set up a 34 yard Lirim Hajrullahu field goal as time expired for the victory. Both teams were firing on offence with Western gaining 513 yards to Ottawa's 483 yards of total offence, however both defences played a bend-but-don't-break style throughout the game.
Both quarterbacks put on an impressive performance both through the air and on the ground. Brad Sinopoli threw for 341 yards, a touchdown and an interception while rushing for 81 yards in the loss. and Marshall, known best for his rushing skills rather than his passing, passed for 225 yards and a touchdown to two interceptions on the day for Western. Marshall also ran for 37 yards on the day, but it was Jerimy Hipperson who made the impact for Western on the day with 162 yards on 18 attempts. Nathan Riva also pitched in 95 yards for the Mustangs run attack. Ottawa's Steven Hughes and Cyril Adjeitey both caught for more than 100 yards in the loss.
In spite of a string of blowout wins starting weeks ago while still in the regular season the nation's top ranked program, the Laval Rouge et Or, faced a tough challenge in the form of the Sherbrooke Vert et Or. While playing in their first Dunsmore Cup, at the legendary PEPS with its racous crowd, Sherbrooke put up a strong fight and nearly did the unthinkable and oust Laval for the first time in 7 years. But Laval did manage to win on this day, a 22-17 final for their eighth consecutive conference title. It was a one point game until the final 90 seconds when Sherbrooke conceded one safety intentionally, being unable to move deep in their own end, and a second one unintentionally on a botched return.
Both teams found great success through the air and little success on the ground, as Laval's Bruno Prud'homme went 23-of-37 for 293 yards and a touchdown and Sherbrooke's J.P. Shoiry 17-of-27 for 250 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. For Laval Julian Feoli-Gudino led the way with 7 receptions for 121 yards, and Sherbooke's Simon Charbonneau Campeau, the conference MVP, broke through with 6 catches for 187 yards and 2 touchdowns - one touchdown a 108 yard reception. On the ground was a different matter however with Laval gaining 92 yards and Sherbrooke being limited to only 11 yards.
Laval's defence stepped up with 3 interceptions on the day, while Sherbrooke's defence recorded 4 sacks of Prud'homme, in this battle for Quebec football surpremacy. For Sherbrooke's first Dunsmore appearance it was a great showing, for Laval the win is welcome news as they will get to host the Uteck Bowl this coming weekend and then play the Vanier at home if they win.
Brushing off an uncharacteristically slow start to the year the Saint Mary's Huskies managed to once again reassert their dominance over the AUS with a 37-8 win over the Acadia Axemen. The Loney Bowl was basically decided by the half, with the Huskies heading into the locker room with a 27-7 lead.
Micah Brown had great success through the air for SMU, going 20-for-29 for 349 yards and touchdown to one interception. The main target for Bown was Ahmed Borhot, who caught 9 passes for 202 yards. Acadia faced more difficulties with Kyle Graves passing for 251 yards and 3 interceptions, and Andrew Healy throwing for no yardage and 2 interceptions himself.
There were impressive individual displays on defence from both sides with Acadia linebacker Tom Labenski recording 10 solo tackles and SMU linebacker Brian Ridgeway recording 12 tackles and a sack.
As a result of the games this weekend the Uteck Bowl will be hosted in Quebec City with Laval welcoming Western, a rematch of the 2008 Vanier Cup final in Hamilton. Laval will be looking to make the Vanier final in the second and final year of hosting the Vanier Cup as Western hopes to play party crashers the same way Laval did in Hamilton.
The Mitchell Bowl will be the second leg of a home-and-home bowl series it would seem, with Calgary welcoming Saint Mary's in a rematch of the Uteck Bowl last season, held in Halifax. While the Huskies will be looking to spoil Calgary's bowl game the way the Dinos had done the previous year Calgary has their eyes set on returning to the Vanier at PEPS and claiming a win this time around.