‘Willing to sacrifice and commit’: Mustangs threepeat in OUA Yates Cup for the first time since 1990

LONDON, ON – For the third straight season and 35th time in history, the Yates Cup’s reflection is purple and white.

Down 14-8 at halftime, the Western University Mustangs came back to trample the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks in the second half to win 29-14. The Mustangs scored just one touchdown to go along with six field goals — courtesy of Yates Cup MVP Brian Garrity — and two safeties.

Western has been to eight straight Yates Cups but this OUA championship marks their first threepeat since 1990. Western defeated Laurier in 1988 and Toronto twice in a row in 1989 and 1990.

The last time an OUA team won three straight was when the McMaster University Marauders won their third of four consecutive Yates Cups in 2002 — Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall was McMaster’s head coach at the time.

After the game, Marshall mentioned the high turnover from the 2022 season and credited veteran players who have stepped up in key moments for Western’s victory.

“People sometimes have this misconception that we just friggin’ roll the silver buckets out and we come up with wins,” Marshall said. “We don’t have the best players. What we do have is great kids that buy into the program and that are resilient.”

The Mustangs were without their top two running backs, Keon Edwards and Keanu Yazbeck, leaving Troy Thompson and Ethan Dolby to carry the ball. Western starting quarterback Evan Hillock came out of the game in the first half holding his left shoulder, putting Jerome Rancourt in until Hillock returned in the third quarter.

Mustangs defensive coordinator Paul Gleason said he wished he could put today’s championship “in a bottle and sell it.” This is Gleason’s 15th Yates Cup appearance and his first time winning three straight while coaching at Western.

He explained the threepeat came down to one thing: hard work.

“We have a system here and kids buy into it and they’re willing to sacrifice and commit,” Gleason said. “They put up with a lot and put in a lot of hours and I think, when it comes down to it, it’s hard work.”

Going into halftime down by six points, Gleason reminded his defence of the last time they played Laurier and how the Golden Hawks scored 28 unanswered to come back in the game.

“This was nothing that was insurmountable,” he said. “There’s nothing that we had done wrong, we just needed to execute. We changed some coverages, we changed some pressures and the kids executed and that made all the differences.”

Western will play the University of Montreal Carabins — who defeated the Laval University Rouge et Or 12-6 in the Dunsmore on Saturday — in Montreal for the Uteck Bowl on Nov. 18.

But for tonight, the Mustangs will celebrate with the oldest active sports trophy in North America, fists thrusted to the heavens.

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