Montreal Carabins maul Guelph Gryphons in Mitchell Bowl, return to Vanier Cup

Montreal Carabins maul Guelph Gryphons in Mitchell Bowl, return to Vanier Cup

The buses that brought the Carabins' caravan to Guelph could have motored through some of the holes Montreal's offensive line opened in the Mitchell Bowl.

Lines win championships, especially once football is at the mercy of fall weather. The major takeaway from the defending Vanier Cup champion Montreal Carabins' 25-10 Mitchell Bowl mauling of the Guelph Gryphons was the physical separation between Les Bleus from La Belle Province and the Ontario University Athletics champ, whose 20-win streak at Alumni Stadium was snapped. Carabins coach Danny Maciocia's heavies — from tackle to tackle, Gustave Sylvestre, Rémi Giguère, Jean-Christophe Labrecque, Jason Raymond and Marc Glaude — cleared the way for 246 rushing yards, including 170 and a touchdown by halfback Sean Thomas Erlington.

On the other side of the ball, the force unit, spearheaded by the likes of nosetackle Junior Luke, defensive end Mathieu Dupuis and linebacker Maïko Zepeda, kept the Gryphons from testing a young Montreal secondary. The Carabins' four freshman starters might have to stop UBC's Michael O'Connor next Saturday in the Vanier Cup  in the Vanier Cup in Quebec City 

Luke was named MVP after notching a sack and an interception, while rookie cornerback Zachary Alexis also hauled in a fourth-quarter pick. Guelph was held to 265 yards, with James Roberts finishing 23-of-34 for 228 yards with three interceptions.

The win also gives the Quebec conference an 8-2 record against the OUA in national playoff games across the past two decades.  Montreal will go for a repeat next week

The upshot for Guelph coach Stu Lang's program, which upended Will Finch-less Western in the Yates Cup, is that it got a lesson in what it takes to compete on November's national stage. The Gryphons are 33-7 within the OUA since 2012, but there's a big step up from what wins a Yates Cup and what can compete for a Vanier Cup.

The only two teams from Upper Canada to get the upper hand over that span, Queen's in the 2009 Mitchell Bowl and McMaster in the 2011 Vanier Cup, both challenged Laval teams with an Air Raid attack.

The recent losses include some field-goal battles, such uch as McMaster's 20-19 loss to Montreal in the 2014 Vanier Cup or Western's 13-11 setback at Laval in the 2010 Uteck Bowl.

Roberts, Guelph's promising sophomore QB, seemed to be under  a more controlled game plan. That was hardly the only factor in Guelph taking 34½ minutes to run a play inside of the Carabins 45, which only came about thanks to a Ryan Niewesteeg 49-yard punt return. The conservative strategizing likely did not help.

That drive, curiously, ended with a field goal that served to pare Montreal's lead from 23 to 20 points, leaving a three-score margin. 

Only two of Guelph's completions were longer than 20 yards. Wide receiver Jacob Scarfone, who had a school-record 940-yard regular season, dropped a deep ball behind coverage inside the Carabins' 15 in the third quarter.

Guelph's defence, led by OUA defensive player of the year and Yates Cup hero John Rush, had a prideful performance. Keeping Carabins QB Gabriel Cousineau and his supporting cast out of the end zone for the final two quarters amounts to a honest accounting. By that point, Montreal was simply chewing clock and trying not to reveal too much of the playbook before the Vanier.

Montreal players made a show of not touching the Mitchell Bowl trophy during the on-field presentation.

 Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @naitSAYger.