Around U Sports: Western Mustangs overcome injuries to win third straight Yates Cup

Photo: Brandon VandeCaveye/Western Athletics

U Sports is down to its final four teams following an action-packed slate of playoff games across the country. Two powerhouses flexed their muscles in Atlantic University Sports (AUS) and Ontario University Athletics (OUA), while a recent RSEQ champion got back on top of the podium in Quebec. Meanwhile, a shocking finish in Canada West saw a rising team win the conference for the first time in almost a decade.

This is the final installment of Around U Sports for this season as we will have individual articles following next week’s bowl games and the Vanier Cup on Saturday, Nov. 25.

Bishop’s Gaiters, 23 — St. FX X-Men, 34

Silas Fagnan, this year’s Chris Flynn Trophy winner, led his team to a rainy Loney Bowl victory with 206 passing yards and two touchdowns, while Caleb Fogarty, who started in place of an injured Malcolm Bussey, carried the ball 21 times for 107 yards and one score. Bishop’s scored two late touchdowns on a fumble recovery from Rene Zeevat and a two-yard run from Mason McGrisken but it was too little, too late. The X-Men have now won 25 straight AUS games since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and will travel to Vancouver next week to take on the UBC Thunderbirds in the Mitchell Bowl as they look to become the first AUS team since 2007 to make it to the Vanier Cup.

Laval Rouge et Or, 6 — Montreal Carabins, 12

The Carabins avenged last year’s Dunsmore Cup loss with a low-scoring game that was ultimately won by the team’s defence. Montreal’s lone touchdown came from defensive back Kaylyn St-Cyr as he picked off Arnaud Desjardins early and returned it 59 yards for the score, while the defence also generated a safety. Desjardins threw three interceptions in the loss, though Laval’s defence recorded four sacks and one takeaway. The Carabins finished a perfect 3-0 against their archrivals this season, allowing a combined total of only 20 points in the victories. Montreal has now advanced to the Uteck Bowl, which they’ll host against the Western Mustangs.

Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 14 — Western Mustangs, 29

The Mustangs are Yates Cup champions for the third consecutive year as running backs Ethan Dolby and Troy Thompson ran over the Golden Hawks, both recording over 100 yards along the ground. Evan Hillock suffered a lower-body injury and eventually returned, though it clearly contributed to Western’s decision to run the ball so heavily. Hec Crighton Trophy favourite Taylor Elgersma threw for 242 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in the loss and ran for an eight-yard touchdown to give his team a lead at halftime. The Mustangs scored 24 unanswered points to secure the win and advance to the Uteck Bowl where they’ll take on the Montreal Carabins at CEPSUM Stadium in La Belle Province.

Alberta Golden Bears, 27 — UBC Thunderbirds, 28

UBC won the Hardy Cup for the first time since 2015 thanks to a shocking finish as defensive lineman Taaj Jhooty forced and recovered an Alberta fumble deep in UBC territory with less than a minute remaining. Garrett Rooker drove the field to hit Sam Davenport with the game-tying touchdown on the final play, after which Kieran Flannery-Fleck nailed the game-winning convert. Rooker finished the game with 378 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, while Eli Hetlinger threw for 149 yards and three scores for Alberta. The Thunderbirds have now advanced to the Mitchell Bowl where they’ll host the St. FX X-Men next weekend. To read our full game story on UBC’s win, click here.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.