Saskatchewan returns to Vanier Cup after falling to Western in 2021
With a 36-19 win over the StFX X-Men, the Saskatchewan Huskies took home the win in the 2022 Uteck Bowl and booked the first of two spots in the 2022 Vanier Cup next week in London, Ontario.
Heading into the afternoon, historical precedent favoured the Huskies as the last AUS side to advance to the Vanier Cup came all the way back in 2007 when the St Mary’s Huskies reached the 2007 Vanier Cup before losing to the Manitoba Bisons. Saturday, though presented a very strong team to attempt to break the streak. The StFX X-Men entered the afternoon undefeated on the season after taking down the Mount Allison Mounties to win the 2022 Jewett Trophy. Across them though, were the Saskatchewan Huskies, the 2022 Hardy Cup champions as the best in Canada West but also the 2022 Vanier Cup Finalists, looking to head back to the big game for a chance at their first Vanier Cup win since 2006.
Early on, it was the X-Men, with the top-ranked defence in the country showing why. Staring down quarterback Mason Nyhus, they held the Canada West MVP to a pair of two-and-outs split up with a Davide Solie field goal for the Huskies to end the first quarter down just 3-0.
Five minutes into the second quarter, AUS placekicker of the year Ben Hadley put one through the uprights himself to tie it at 3-3 before adding another five minutes later. David Solie sent one through himself, though, right at the end of the second to end the half at 6-6.
In the second half, the Huskies’ run game finally broke through as with eight minutes to play in the third, Ryker Frank rushed in a two-yard run to make it 13-6 for the Huskies. Six minutes later, though, it was X-Men quarterback Silas Fagnan doing it himself and taking a 19-yard rush in for the X-Men touchdown to tie the game at 13-13.
In a return to the final four after being blown out 61-6 in the 2021 Mitchell Bowl, it was a better performance for Fagnan, who threw for 246 yards and a touchdown pass, but also an interception that would come back to bite him later.
Tied at 13 a piece heading into the fourth quarter, a safety gave Saskatchewan the 15-13 lead before with six minutes left, after a quiet afternoon, Mason Nyhus found Daniel Wiebe for the 41-yard touchdown pass to give Saskatchewan the 22-13 lead. The fifth-year picked up as the afternoon went along, ending with 327 yards on 30/38 and a pair of touchdown passes for the Huskies.
Stuck nine with five minutes to go, on second and five from the StFX 20, Fagnan threw that crucial interception to John Stoll who brought it back for the pick-six to give the Huskies the massive 29-13 lead.
StFX got one back late as a Ben Harrington touchdown cut it to 29-19, but Nyhus found Wiebe for his second touchdown of the afternoon with just seconds left to make it 36-19 and send the Huskies back to the Vanier Cup.
The Huskies now take on the RSEQ champion (and Mitchell Bowl champion) Laval Rouge et Or in the 57th Vanier Cup from Western University on Nov, 26.