Laval University, Quebec City (U SPORTS) – On the back of a strong second-half performance, the Western University Mustangs defeated the University of Saskatchewan Huskies 27-21 on Saturday afternoon to win the 56th Scotiabank Vanier Cup, presented by Levio, in front of 5,600 spectators at the TELUS-UL Stadium in Quebec City. This is Western’s eighth U SPORTS football championship in the school’s history.
Head coach Greg Marshall’s men who lost the national final on this very same field back in 2018 are leaving Quebec City with the cup in their hands this time around after scoring a pair of third-quarter touchdowns, both on passes by quarterback Evan Hillock to fourth-year receiver Griffin Campbell. Hillock was later awarded the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as the game’s MVP.
“This is all surreal. The (Ted Morris) trophy is a team award. Many guys could have won it," said Hillock, who concluded the game with 18 passes on 29 attempts for 274 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Playing without All-Canadian receiver Savaughn Magnaye-Jones, Hillock turned to Griffin Campbell to power the offence. “Griffin made great plays. He’s a baller! The offensive line was awesome, I don’t think I’ve touched the ground once today.”
Daniel Valente Jr. won the Bruce Coulter Trophy awarded to the Defensive Player of the Game. The defensive back completed 8.5 tackles, including eight solo efforts and one for a one-yard loss. “I thought our defence played exceptionally today. I’m extremely proud of our team, with everything that we’ve been through", said head coach Greg Marshall, after capturing his fourth Vanier Cup since he joined the Mustangs. "At the beginning of the year, I told the players that we don’t know if this thing is going to shut down, so let’s play each game like it’s our last. It speaks to the resiliency of our team.”
The Huskies suffered a fifth straight loss in the Vanier Cup game, after defeats in 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2002. Saskatchewan’s last national title goes back to 1998, when current head coach Scott Flory was on the field as a student-athlete.
“The Mustangs are a tough football team, you got to give them credit. We had a couple of missed opportunities and we couldn’t get our footing or traction in the third quarter," said Flory. "It comes down to a handful of plays and I don’t think we did enough. My mind goes to our players who won’t put on that uniform again. All they did to get to that point and not finish… It’s tough, but we’re gonna keep growing.”
The Mustangs did not waste any time to open the scoring. On their opening drive, they walked across the field and Trey Humes crowned their effort with a 25-yard run into the end zone. Less than three minutes after the opening kickoff, Western was up 7-0. The Huskies closed the gap before the end of the opening quarter when kicker David Solie split the uprights on a 26-yard effort and Scott Flory’s men were now down 7-3.
Saskatchewan took the lead in the second quarter when Mason Nyhus found Daniel Perry along in the end zone. The Huskies missed their extra point attempt on a 22-yard kick, but they were still up 9-7. Western edged back on top with 3:20 to go in the half when Brian Garrity kicked a field goal on 23 yards to make it 10-9 for the Mustangs. It was a short-lived lead since David Solie kicked his second field goal of the game, a 24-yard effort this time on the last play of the half. Saskatchewan led 12-10 at halftime.
Mustangs’ receiver Griffin Campbell shone brightly in the third quarter. Campbell caught a pass from pivot Evan Hillock before speeding away on 50 yards to score a touchdown. Western then conceded a safety, reducing their lead to three points. However, on the last play of the quarter, Campbell crosses the goal line once again with the ball in hand at the end of a 17-yard run. Western was leading 24-14 with the last quarter to go.
Western then added more points on the board at the beginning of the fourth. After Edouard Wanadi broke a 56-yard run, Brian Garrity kicked a 37-yard field goal, his second of the game, stretching Western’s lead to 13 points. The Huskies did score another touchdown on a 1-yard run by Josh Ewanchyna with 28 seconds to go. But it was too little too late.
Nike Players of the Game:
- Ted Morris Memorial Trophy (MVP): Evan Hillock, Western
- Bruce Coulter Award (Defensive Player of the Game): Daniel Valente Jr., Western