Getting closer: quest for Vanier Cup down to eight teams

Courtesy: U Sports

We are one step closer to the Vanier Cup following a slate of U Sports playoff action on Saturday with just eight U Sports teams remaining in contention for the title.

No. 4 Saskatchewan dominated UBC 39-17 in the first Canada West Semi-Final with Hec Crighton Trophy candidate Mason Nyhus throwing for 381 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Huskies running back Adam Machart was held mostly in check by the Thunderbirds, recording 47 yards and a touchdown on eleven carries.

No. 7 Manitoba beat Alberta 43-17 at a snow-covered IG Field in Winnipeg after developing a 36-3 halftime lead. The Golden Bears lost three fumbles while the Bisons ran the ball a whopping 49 times for 264 yards. First-year quarterback Jackson Tachinski completed only six passes for 72 yards but cashed in a couple of them for touchdowns.

The winner of next week’s Hardy Trophy will face the winner of the Dunsmore Cup, which will take place on Sunday afternoon between No. 1 Montreal and No. 5 Laval. The Huskies dropped last year’s Hardy Trophy to Calgary, while the Bisons will be making their first appearance in the game since 2014.

No. 8 St. FX beat Acadia 27-22 thanks in part to a 300-yard passing game from quarterback Silas Fagnan. It was also a huge day for the running backs as the X-Men’s Malcolm Bussey and the Axemen’s Cole Estabrooks combined for a remarkable 464 yards along the ground.

Bishop’s upset No. 9 Mount Allison in the other AUS Semi-Final, winning 23-5. Defensive lineman Remi Desbiens recorded four sacks in a monster performance for the Gaiters, while Mounties quarterback Julian Wytinck was picked off twice.

The X-Men will now host the Gaiters in next week’s Loney Bowl, the winner of which will advance to the Mitchell Bowl against the winner of the OUA’s Yates Cup.

The Yates Cup will be played between No. 2 Western and No. 3 Queen’s after they knocked off No. 6 Guelph and Ottawa, respectively. Mustangs defensive lineman Deionte Knight got home for two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in a 33-12 victory over the Gryphons, while Golden Gaels running back Rasheed Tucker ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns in a 32-15 win over the Gee-Gees.

Queen’s has not appeared in the Yates Cup since 2013, while Western lost the 2019 Yates Cup in an upset to McMaster.

The Vanier Cup is slated for Saturday, Dec. 4 at Stade TELUS-Université Laval in Quebec City, Que. and will be televised nationally on CBC.