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Western Mustangs fall one win short of playing in Vanier Cup on home turf

The Laval Rouge et Or came to London and put up a second half performance that ended the dream of Western playing in the 57th Vanier Cup.

Laval overcame first-half flubs and fumbles to come steaming through the final two quarters, defeating the Western Mustangs 27-20 in the Mitchell Bowl on Saturday afternoon at Western Alumni Stadium.

The Rouge et Or overcame a 13-point deficit at halftime, carried by the running legs of David Dallaire and the kicking leg of Vincent Blanchard.

Blanchard connected for four second-half field goals. Dallaire scored two second half touchdowns.

The game could not have started better for the Mustangs.

Three missed snaps by Laval in the first quarter turned into two Western Mustang touchdowns.

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Brian Garrity hit a field goal as well, and Western was off to a 17-0 lead.

The first snap that went over the head of Rouge et Or quarterback Arnaud Desjardins was recovered by Bruce Maas of the Mustangs. On the next series Evan Hillock threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Savaughn Magnaye-Jones to open the scoring.

Western got their second major of the day when Lourenz Bowers-Kane picked up a missed Laval snap and ran it into the end zone.

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With Western on the doorstep again at the Laval three-yard line in the second quarter, the Rouge et Or managed to stop a run up the middle by Keon Edwards to force third down and then block the field goal attempt by Garrity.

However, the Mustangs took a 17-4 lead into the locker room.

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Western’s running game was dominant in the opening half when OUA MVP Keon Edwards rushed for 101 yards. The Rouge et Or limited Edwards to just 26 yards on the ground the rest of the day.

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Laval chipped away at the Western lead with the first touchdown from Dallaire and then moved in front on the second, less than five minutes later.

At that point it was 18-17 for Laval. The Mustangs had trailed twice in ten games up to that point for a total of 13 minutes and 37 seconds.

A 15-yard field goal briefly gave Western the lead again at 20-18, but the Rouge et Or continued to get stops on defence and field goals from Blanchard and wound up advancing in the end. They will face the University of Saskatchewan Huskies next week.

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The Huskies returned to the national championship with a 36-19 victory over St. FX in the Uteck Bowl, which was played in Antigonish, N.S.

Kickoff for the 57th Vanier Cup is 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26.

This will mark the first time the game has been held in London, Ont. The last time the Vanier Cup was hosted by an Ontario University was 1988.

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