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Western wins 8th Vanier Cup, overcoming halftime deficit to Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan and Western seemed primed for a tight battle at the Vanier Cup after an even first half. The Mustangs got some opportunities after the halftime break and took full advantage.

Griffin Campbell caught two touchdown passes for the top-ranked Mustangs in a 27-21 triumph over the Huskies in front of 5,605 fans on a cold afternoon at Stade Telus in Quebec City. It was the eighth time that Western has won the Canadian university football championship.

“The fact that we got a season in, got a Vanier Cup game in, and that we are the champions after going through the pandemic speaks to the resiliency of our team,” stated Western head coach Greg Marshall.

Saskatchewan led 12-10 at halftime but the Mustangs rebounded after the break. Campbell caught an Evan Hillock pass for a 50-yard touchdown early in the second half to give Western a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Western pivot gave credit to his offensive line.

“I don’t think that I was sacked once this year and they continued their excellent play today,” said Hillock, who was named the winner of the Ted Morris Trophy as the offensive player of the game.

Hillock, who completed 18 of 29 passes for 274 yards, also connected with Campbell on a 17-yard TD catch on the last play of the third quarter.

Huskies coach Scott Flory stated his team had a couple of missed opportunities.

“We couldn’t find our traction at the end of the third quarter [and] that led to big plays by Western,” he said.

Brian Garrity kicked a 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to put Western ahead 27-14.

Josh Ewanchyna scored on a one-yard run with 32 seconds left to give the No. 2 Huskies some faint hope but the Mustangs recovered an onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.

Saskatchewan running back Adam Machart, a first team All-Canadian, was held to only 78 yards on 16 rushes by the Western defense. Huskies quarterback Mason Nyhus completed 28 of 40 passes for 303 yards with one touchdown pass.

“Our defensive line did a wonderful job against one heck of an offensive line,” Marshall said.

With the field icy and hard, Trey Humes returned the opening kickoff for 33 yards to give the Mustangs good field position at their own 40 yard-line.

Just under three minutes later, he ran in from 25 yards out for the first touchdown of the game.

The Huskies had to wait until their third possession to get on the scoreboard. After a pair of three-and-outs, David Solie kicked a 26-yard field goal to trim Western’s lead.

Saskatchewan took the lead with 9:57 left in the first half when Daniel Perry caught a 22-yard TD pass. The Huskies missed the extra point but still led 9-7.

Garrity kicked a 23-yard field goal late in the second quarter to put Western ahead 10-9. Solie restored the Saskatchewan lead before the half with a 24-yard field goal.

Western’s Daniel Valente Jr., was named defensive player of the game. It was the Mustangs’ first Vanier Cup win since defeating Laval in 2017 at Hamilton.

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