Football Mounties ready to challenge Laval

Darrell Cole
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Uteck Bowl Saturday at MacAulay Field

Mount Allison will host Laval in the Uteck Bowl on Saturday.

Mount Allison Mounties' receiver Matt Rose carries the ball in recent AUS playoff action against Acadia. The Mounties host Laval in the Uteck Bowl on Saturday at MacAulay field.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Mount Allison’s football team has travelled a long road to respectability.

From a perennial loser several years ago, the Mounties will challenge for a spot in the Vanier Cup on Saturday when they host the Laval Rouge et Or in the Uteck Bowl at MacAulay Field in Sackville.

The Mounties earned the berth with a thrilling 20-17 comeback victory over the conference-leading Saint Mary’s Huskies in the AUS final last Saturday in Halifax.

“It’s a game in which we can’t make many mistakes because Laval is a team that feeds off mistakes,” Mount Allison head coach Kelly Jeffrey said. “They’re very well coached and very coachable kids. You can’t make mistakes like turnovers, giving up big plays or missed assignments. If you do, they’ll make you pay.”

Jeffrey said playing well early will be key for his Mounties.

After a slow start, that saw the club lose four of its first five games, the Mounties won three straight to earn a playoff berth, defeated Acadia on their home field in the conference semifinal before rallying late to defeat Saint Mary’s – scoring the winner on a late field goal.

Jeffrey, whose goal when he was hired was to bring respectability back to the program, knew going into the season that his team would compete. It just took a little longer than expected.

“We felt all along that we had a good team, but we weren’t consisted at the start of the season and that hurt us,” Jeffrey said. “Once we got settled down and had everyone playing better at the same time you could see us starting to take off.”

Jeffrey said playing in a game like this in front of a home crowd should prove beneficial, as could playing on MacAulay Field’s grass surface.

“It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve played a big game like this on our own field. We can keep our routine and not miss any days of practice because of travel,” he said. “The guys are very focused and dialed in. They’re very excited, which is great for big games. You want to be challenged with the best and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The game will feature one of the nation’s top running backs in Jordan Botel against Lavals’ top-ranked defence. Montreal only gained 33 yards on the ground in last weekend’s conference final.

Mount Allison is seeking its first trip to the Vanier Cup since 1991, while Laval will be seeking its sixth straight appearance.

Game time is 1:30 p.m. and the game is being broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

Also, legendary Mount Allison receiver and kick returner Gary Ross has been named the honorary chair of Saturday’s game. He is all-time AUS leader in receptions, receiving yards, punt return yards and all-purpose yards.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Geographic location: SACKVILLE, Saint Mary, Halifax Montreal

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