Saskatchewan wins gold medal game at 2019 Football Canada Cup

KINGSTON — Heading into Saturday’s gold medal game at the 2019 Football Canada Cup, something was on Saskatchewan’s mind.

Knowing they were facing Quebec in the big game, Saskatchewan still had the vivid memory of what happened at the 2017 tournament in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The team was less than a minute away from pulling off the major upset of the tournament as they faced Quebec. However, with 19.2 second left in the game, everything changed when Jashia Lewis-Pennicooke scored a touchdown to deny Saskatchewan the chance of winning the national championship.

Under the lights at Queen’s University’s Richardson Stadium, Saskatchewan were determined to not face the same fate again. The defending champions successfully won their second straight championship, defeating Quebec 16-9.

With the gold medal, Saskatchewan has brought home hardware for the past six years – two gold, three silver medals and a bronze.

Quebec claimed the silver medal in the loss but earned major respect for coming out of Wednesday’s semi-final over Alberta, needing four overtimes to seal the victory. In 2018, Quebec was shocked by Alberta in the 2018 tournament in Calgary and defeated Ontario to come home with the bronze.

Since 2010, Quebec has gone home with a medal each year. Overall, they have six gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

Saskatchewan poses after defeating Quebec to win the gold medal (Football Sask)

In the first quarter, Quebec tries to get to work early as Saskatchewan’s defence was having a hard time stopping quarterback Eloa Latendresse Regimbald as he was moving down the field swiftly.

Emile Choquet attempted a field goal just over four minutes into the first quarter, but it was blocked by Saskatchewan’s defence. However, a penalty against Saskatchewan prompted Quebec to take off their kicking team and try to go a touchdown. Even though they tried, Saskatchewan’s defence mounted up a tough wall and it resulted in a turnover on downs.

Saskatchewan pivot Noah Pelletier benefitted from the offensive line’s blocking scheme to connect with Ryker Frank for a 56 yard gain to get the ball down to the seven yard line.

On the next play, Pelletier found Taggart Rowell for a touchdown to give them the early lead with 3:27 left in the quarter. Saskatchewan tried a fake attempt but Bryce Welter was hauled down while trying to find an open player.

In the second quarter, Pelletier threw an interception to David Gauthier Gonzales in the end zone but the score was recalled with 8:43 remaining before the half.

With 8:25 left, Latendresse Regimbald was sacked by Saskatchewan linebacker Seth Hundeby. Not wanting to risk the chance of losing an opportunity, Choquet adds a 19 yard field goal to pull Quebec to within three points of Saskatchewan.

Once again, Quebec tried to press to take over the lead but were not fortunate as Saskatchewan’s Tanner Reiber made a huge defensive stop in the end zone with 2:15 before the half. The culmination of this drive for Quebec was Choquet’s 21 yard field goal to tie up the gold medal game.

Within the last minute, Saskatchewan took the lead as Pelletier connected with Carson Derksen who fended off double coverage in the end zone to tally a major.

Quebec had once more drive before the half but Latendresse Regimbald was sacked twice in the last minute by Saskatchewan’s defence, led by lineman Carter Shurvell.

At halftime, Saskatchewan led Quebec 16-6.

In the third quarter, Colin Tetreault added a 17 yard field goal to extend Saskatchewan’s lead over Quebec 16-6.

With 4:05 left in the frame, Pelletier threw an interception into the hands of Dylan Djete to give Quebec the ball. The team fumbled the ball and Carter Stadnyk recovered it for Saskatchewan.

However, Saskatchewan couldn’t hold onto the ball and Derksen fumbled the ball and Edwin Wilson Tara Kolenge recovered it for Quebec.

Heading to the final quarter, Saskatchewan had a great opportunity to increase their lead. Pelletier airs the ball into the end zone on 2nd and 10 only to have it intercepted by Djete.

A great defensive performance by lineman Riece Kack thwarted a big opportunity for Qubeec to make something happen as he sacked Latendresse Regimbald twice. Choquet attempted a 35 yard field goal to close the gap between Quebec and Saskatchewan with 6:11 left in the game but the ball went wide left. Drake Douglas was able to get the ball out of the end zone to prevent Quebec from getting a single point.

With 2:50 left in the game, Choquet redeemed himself by adding a field goal to pull Quebec within seven points.

Quebec had a final chance to tie and possibly win the gold medal. With 38.5 seconds left, Latendresse Regimbald threw an uncharacteristic interception right into the hands defensive back Colby Lang in the end zone to dash Quebec’s chances of winning the national championship.

Offensive Players of the Game were running backs Ryker Frank (Saskatchewan) and Merton Theagene (Quebec). Defensive Players of the Game were defensive lineman Carter Shurvell (Saskatchewan) and Dylan Djete (Quebec).

While thrilled to finally get the monkey off the back and score a win against Quebec, Saskatchewan gave props to Quebec for the competitive battle.

“The game was great,” commented Team Saskatchewan head coach Jeff Stusek after the win. “It was a good battle and it showed two good football teams going back and forth.”

Quebec is a very good team. I’m proud of our players; they played really well and they played disciplined football. They had to work hard because their quarterback (Eloa Latendresse Regimbald) and their team is so good. I am so proud of our defence, our offence and our special teams.”

Disappointment by not winning gold on Saturday, Quebec were not able to find a solution in stopping all three facets of Saskatchewan’s game.

“My first thoughts are with Saskatchewan,” said Quebec head coach David Lessard after the loss. ”I told their head coach (Jeff Stusek) when we shook hands, ‘listen, you did an amazing job’. “

Those kids were amazing today and they were playing really well. They were executing offensively and defensively at a really high level. Our game plan was to match their execution and we just couldn’t do it so they really won that game. They did a really good job.”

Tournament MVPs were Quebec quarterback Eloa Latendresse Regimbald (offence), Saskatchewan linebacker Seth Hundeby (defence) and Quebec kicker Emile Choquet (special teams).