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Uteck Bowl Preview: Mustangs vs Montreal



Uteck Bowl Preview Mustangs vs Montreal

The Mustangs football team faces the University of Montreal, a team they have never faced before, in one game that could potentially deny them a chance at the national championship.

On November 18, the University of Montreal Carabins and Western University will go head to head in the heavyweight division of this year’s Uteck Bowl, which is the national semifinal. The game will take place at CEPSUM stadium in Montreal. The Vanier Cup is the goal for both teams, who won their respective conference championships last week.

“I’m really proud of our team. We’ve had to battle every single week, and we didn’t have a lot of easy games this year,” says Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall.

Through the air and on the ground

Jonathan Sénécal, the most valuable player in the RESQ, is the quarterback leading the Carabins’ offense in his third season. Montreal has 3,305 yards of total offense, which ranks seventh in the nation.

Sénécal completed eight games during the regular season this year with 2,215 yards and 15 touchdowns through the air. Along with his 394 yards gained on the ground, he also scored six touchdowns on the ground, completing the trifecta of a quarterback.

“He’s one of the best quarterbacks that I’ve seen in U Sports football,” says Marshall. “He has that unique combination of being able to make plays with his feet and be a great thrower.”

With three-year Hassane Dosso, fourth-year Carl Chabot, and second-year William Legault all having at least 27 catches apiece, Montreal’s receiving core has spread out a lot of the catches. With 489 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns, Dosso tops the team in both categories.

The Carabins leave it to Sénécal to run the ball, as he leads his team in both the air and on the ground. Redval Keita, a second-year running back from Montreal, is the closest to Sénécal in terms of yardage gained, with just 163 yards through seven games.

Comparatively, after eight regular-season games, Western leads the nation in total offense with 4,080 yards, 775 yards more than Montreal.

Evan Hillock, a third-year quarterback for Western, has had an incredible season, throwing for 2,439 yards and 19 touchdowns in eight games during the regular season. For his achievements, Ontario University Athletics named him a second-team all-star.

“[Hillock] has had an outstanding year again, and he’s going to need to play at a high level this weekend for us to be successful,” says Marshall.

With fifth-year Mohsen Jamal and sixth-year Savaughn Magnaye-Jones both having over 40 receptions and fourth-year Seth Robertson having 31, Western’s receiving core has had far more opportunities than Montreal’s this season.

All three of the receivers rank in the top ten nationally in terms of yards gained, with Jamal topping the list with 700 yards gained through eight regular seasons, good for second place nationwide. With eight receiving touchdowns this season, Robertson leads the nation in this stat.

With 1,616 rushing yards, Western is fifth in the nation and has averaged 202 yards per game on the ground this season.

In the Yates Cup last week, the Mustangs managed to run for 280 yards on the ground against the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks, despite significant injuries to third-year running back Keanu Yazbeck and sixth-year running back Keon Edwards.

“I think we’d love to say that we’re just gonna come in and run the football but [Montreal] is too good for that, we’re gonna have to mix it up,” says Marshall. “We’re gonna have to be unpredictable.”

Stingy defence

No RESQ team has managed to overcome the formidable Carabins defense.

Montreal’s defense gave up the fewest points in the nation through eight games of the regular season—just 11.6. With eight fumble recoveries, eight sacks, and thirteen interceptions, the Carabins rank third, eighth, and second in the nation respectively.

“I really believe that the key to Montreal’s success this year was their ability to play defence and provide their offence with opportunities and field position,” says Marshall.

The Montreal defense took the lead against the Laval University Rouge et Or in last week’s RSEQ championship, the Dunsmore Cup, as they defeated them 12-6.

Nine of Laval’s 12 points came from the defense as the Carabins intercepted fourth-year quarterback Arnaud Desjardins three times, one of which was returned for a pick-six. Laval was also forced to take a self-imposed safety.

In addition, Montreal’s defense ranks sixth in the nation in terms of rushing yards allowed, giving up just 115.9 yards per game on the ground. However, none of the RESQ teams rank among the top 10 in the nation for rushing offense, which indicates that teams in Quebec encounter the run far less frequently than teams in Ontario.

“Having watched the last couple of games [Montreal] is pretty stingy on defence, and they fly around and run to the football,” says Marshall.

Conversely, Western’s defense had a slow start to the season but has improved with each passing game. With 376.6 yards allowed per game, the Mustangs’ defense is only 14th in the nation, but they have the most interceptions (14) than any other team.

In the Yates Cup, Western arguably put on their best defensive display of the year, shutting out the Golden Hawks’ offense for the whole second half. In the championship game, they recorded two sacks and intercepted Laurier’s fourth-year quarterback, Taylor Elgersma, who was named the OUA MVP.

“I think we got a really great team, and we have a lot of hard-working guys that have been in some tough games this year,” says Mustangs fourth-year linebacker Riley Macleod. “Really staying true to the course and our culture.”

Winner goes to Kingston

The 58th Vanier Cup, the national championship of Canadian university football, will take place in Kingston on November 25. Both teams will compete to play in it.

On November 18 at 3 p.m., the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men will square off as the Uteck Bowl winner against the Mitchell Bowl winner.

“Once you get to this point in the season, the next game is always going to be the hardest,” says Macleod. “We got work cut out for us, but we have to get it done.”

The Carabins and Mustangs’ first meeting promises to be a memorable one as two of the nation’s best offenses and defenses square off.

Viewers can watch the game online at CBC Gem or on CBC. The game begins at CEPSUM Stadium in Montreal at 1:00 p.m.

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