Quarterback Tristan Grenon threw 268 yards for three touchdowns as Laval crushed the Acadia Axemen 42-7 to win the Uteck Bowl on Saturday and advance to the Canadian university football championship.
The Vanier Cup will be held on Nov. 23rd in Toronto. The Rouge-et-Or lost to the McMaster Marauders 41-38 in double overtime last year and won the title in 2010 with a decisive 29-2 victory over the Calgary Dinos.
Laval also won the Vanier Cup in 2008 with a 44-21 decision over the Western Mustangs.
To win it this year, Laval will have to play McMaster once again after the Marauders thrashed the Dinos 45-6 in the Mitchell Bowl.
The RSEQ champion Rouge-et-Or's running game dominated on Saturday. Maxime Boutin led Laval (11-1) with 213 yards, while Christophe Normand and Antoine Leduc both scored rushing touchdowns.
"The offensive line made me look real good today," Boutin said. "On a lot of my runs, all I had to do was hit a huge hole. When our O-line plays like this, we usually have success."
Laval head coach Glen Constantin was also very complimentary of Boutin and the Rouge-et-Or's offensive linemen.
"Maxime is a very good running back, he could start for a lot of teams," said Constantin. "But you have to give credit to our line. Even I could have run for 10 yards today."
The Rouge-et-Or had 321 yards on the ground compared to Acadia's 90.
Quarterback Kyle Graves led Acadia (8-2) with 130 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Andrew Healy. Graves was also the Axemen's leading rusher with 76 yards. Acadia has now lost seven consecutive national semifinals dating back to 1981.
Laval took some time to get going and was only leading 3-0 after the opening quarter thanks to a 12-yard field goal by Boris Bede.
But the Rouge-et-Or were up 18-0 by halftime and had outgained their rivals 301 total yards to 68. Normand, with a three-yard touchdown run, Bede, with a punt single, and Boutin, with an eight-yard TD catch, put points on the board for the victors in the second quarter.
Normand's TD was set up by a 51-yard pass from Grenon to Yannick Morin-Plante.
After a relatively calm first half, the two teams exchanged three long passing touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the third quarter.
Grenon hit speedy wideout Mathew Norzil for 63 yards 2:36 in to make it 25-0 Laval. Acadia responded less than two minutes later with a 73-yard pass-and-run score from Graves to Healy. But the Rouge et Or had an answer of their own, a 24-yard TD pass from Grenon to Julian Bailey, who was wide open in the end zone.
Healy's long scoring play was the only highlight of the day offensively for the Axemen, who gained more yards on that touchdown than they had in the entire first half.
Backup QB Anthony Leduc rounded out the scoring for Laval with a nine-yard TD run five minutes into the fourth frame.
On defence, Vincent Desloges had three solo and three assisted tackles. Arnaud Gascon-Nadon —the two-time CIS lineman of the year — was questionable all week due to an injury he suffered in the RSEQ final, but still had a pair of tackles for a loss.
After being named MVP of the Atlantic conference final last Saturday, freshman running back Thomas Troop could only muster 20 yards on 13 runs.
"We started out OK defensively but offensively we had a hard time moving the ball. It was very physical up front and as the game wore on they wore us down," said Acadia coach Jeff Cummins. "They were bigger up front defensively and offensively and towards the end of the game, you could really see the difference."