National semi-finals set, as U Sports crowns conference champions

Photo courtesy: St. FX Athletics

The road to the Vanier Cup got considerable clearer on Saturday, as a trio conference champions from across the country booked their tickets to the national semi-finals.

The action began on the East Coast, where No. 7 St. FX clashed with unranked Bishop’s for Atlantic University Sport (AUS) supremacy in the Loney Bowl. Fresh off an upset of Mount Allison last week, the underdog Gaiters kept the action competitive, but a 300-yard passing outing from conference MVP Silas Fagnan and a pair of rushing scores from Rookie of the Year Malcolm Bussey was enough to power the X-Men into the national tournament with a 25-17 win.

Out in Ontario, the margin of victory wasn’t nearly as close in the 113th playing of the Yates Cup. No. 3 Queen’s entered the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) title game with an undefeated record, but managed less than 200 yards of total offence in a 29-0 shutout loss to No. 2 Western. The Mustangs’ dynamic backfield duo of Trey Humes and Keon Edwards had more than that on their own, as Edwards stole the show with a 158-yard, three touchdown performance.

Finally, the Canada West was decided on the prairies, as No. 4 Saskatchewan erased a 16-0 first quarter deficit against No. 6 Manitoba and stormed to a 45-17 Hardy Cup victory. The Huskies offensive line came ready to work, paving the way for 391 yards on the ground, including a 223-yard, three touchdown performance from 2019 Hec Crighton nominee Adam Machart.

With No. 1 Montreal’s 28-19 victory over No. 5 Laval in the Dunsmore Cup last Sunday, all four U Sport conferences — including the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) — now have their representative for the national semi-final games next week.

The Canada West champion Saskatchewan Huskies are slated to head to Quebec next Saturday to take on the RSEQ’s Montreal Carabins in the Uteck Bowl, while the OUA powerhouse Western Mustangs will travel to Antigonish, Nova Scotia to take on the St. FX X-Men.

The 56th Vanier Cup is slated for Saturday, Dec. 4 at Stade Telus-Université Laval in Quebec City.