Off to the Vanier Cup: U of S Huskies outlast StFX at Uteck Bowl


“We credit them, but at the end of it, man — we didn’t play a clean football game. That’ll be rectified for next week.”

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The University of Saskatchewan Huskies backloaded their best football to the fourth quarter Saturday, but it was enough to get them to their second consecutive Vanier Cup.

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The Huskies — who were locked in a 13–13 tie with the StFX X-Men midway through the fourth quarter — detonated late, and won the Uteck Bowl 36–19.

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That sends them to the Vanier Cup on Nov. 26 in London, Ont. against the Laval Rouge et Or, who fought back from a 17–0 first-quarter deficit to beat the Western Mustangs 27–20 in the Mitchell Bowl.

“Too many mistakes, penalties, bad decisions on our part,” Huskies’ head coach Scott Flory said after the Uteck game. “We credit them, but at the end of it, man — we didn’t play a clean football game. That’ll be rectified for next week.”

The Huskies were heavy favorites entering Saturday’s game in Antigonish, NS. The Atlantic conference hasn’t sent a team to the Vanier Cup since 2007, and has suffered a string of bowl blowouts in recent years, including a 61-6 StFX loss to Western last season.

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But the X-Men showed no signs of those previous struggles on Saturday — going into the half tied 6-6, and keeping it close until the late stages of the fourth quarter.

The University of Saskatchewan Huskies' Nixen Voll makes the tackle during first-half action against StFX at Saturday's Uteck Bowl.  Photo by Bryan Kennedy
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies’ Nixen Voll makes the tackle during first-half action against StFX at Saturday’s Uteck Bowl. Photo by Bryan Kennedy jpg

“Obviously, you’re happy to win a national bowl game,” Huskies’ quarterback Mason Nyhus said after completing 30 of 38 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns. “We hadn’t done that in a long time, until last year, and it’s a special thing. You don’t want to take it for granted. I’m happy in the moment, but it could have been a bit cleaner.”

The Huskies fumbled five times, losing two of them, including a Ted Kubongo fumble at the StFX one-yard line in the second quarter.

But then came that fourth quarter, especially the last eight minutes: StFX conceded a safety, Saskatchewan’s Daniel Wiebe scored on a weaving 41-yard reception, John Stoll scored on a 26-yard interception return, the X-Men’s Ben Harrington caught a 38 -yard touchdown pass, and then the Huskies’ Daniel Perry caught a 26-yard toss into the end zone with 56 seconds on the clock.

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It was a hectic way to end a football game—but, if you’re the Huskies, a very good way.

“We’re happy to win a national bowl game and get back to a national championship, where we want to be,” Nyhus said. “That’s our goal, is to win a national championship. But there’s things we need to clean up, and we’re well aware of that. Coaches, team, overall, we know what our next task at hand is. It’s going to be a tough test, so we’ll go back to the drawing board, have a hard week of practice, and move on.”

The Huskies’ Ryker Frank ran 20 times for 134 yards, including a two-yard touchdown plunge, and Wiebe caught six passes for 117.

David Solie added field goals of 32 and 36 yards.

StFX quarterback Silas Fagnan completed 17 of 36 for 258 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and also scored on a 19-yard touchdown run. Ben Hadley added field goals of 32 and 17 yards.

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Next up: The Vanier, which Saskatchewan lost to Western last year 27-21.

“You can’t lose sight of (going to the Vanier),” Flory said. “We’re a little frustrated right now, but we can’t lose sight of that. We get another opportunity next week, and we’re excited for the opportunity. We’ve got a good group, we’ve got a good team, and we’ll bounce back and play a cleaner game next week.

“It wasn’t a surprise,” he added of the StFX performance. “We knew they were going to be prepared. They’re at home, they’re well-coached, we knew we were going to get their best shot.”

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