Western WR Griffin Campbell scores a Vanier Cup touchdown.

The Western Mustangs have claimed their eighth Vanier Cup, and their first since 2017. The 56th edition of the Canadian university football national title game took place Saturday in Quebec City, Quebec, and Western (who advanced there with a dominant 61-6 Mitchell Bowl win over the Saint Francis Xavier X-Men last week) beat the Saskatchewan Huskies (who got there on a last-second comeback against the Montreal Carabins for a 14-10 Mitchell Bowl win) 27-21 in icy conditions.

Interestingly enough, while this clash set up as “Western’s running game versus Saskatchewan’s air attack” based on what these teams had done this season (per a good preview from Ben Forrest at CBC Sports), that wasn’t how it played out. In actuality, it was the Mustangs’ passing game that proved key for them, helping them recover from a 12-10 halftime deficit. Western quarterback Evan Hillock completed 18 of 29 passes for 274 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and receiver Griffin Campbell caught both of those touchdowns, part of his six-catch, 104-yard day. Here are his touchdown catches:

The Huskies made this interesting late, driving to the Mustangs’ one-yard line with around a minute and a half left. But they couldn’t initially punch it in, and the eventual rushing touchdown from Josh Ewanchyna came with just 28 seconds left. Saskatchewan tried an onside kick, but Western recovered, and that let them run out the clock.

This marked the Mustangs’ eighth Vanier Cup win overall, and their first since 2017 (which, in turn, was their first since 1994). They made it back to the 2018 Vanier Cup (also in Quebec City), but lost 34-20 to the hometown Laval Rouge et Or (who they’d beaten 39-17 the previous year). But they lost the 2019 Yates Cup (the OUA championship) to the McMaster Marauders, and then the entire 2020 season was cancelled. So this is a great win for the Mustangs, and especially for longer-tenured players like receivers Antonio Valvano (fifth year of eligibility, eighth year at Western), Brett Ellerman (fifth year of eligibility, seventh year at Western) and Campbell (fourth year of eligibility, fifth year at Western). They’ll have a lot to celebrate after this one.

[London Free Press; screencap from @WesternMustangs on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.