Volume 95, Issue 52

Tuesday, December 4, 2001
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Unnecessarily rough end to CIS pigskin season

Mustangs mauled by York

Bump, set, talk some smack

Unnecessarily rough end to CIS pigskin season

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

In the pinnacle game of the university football season, two teams resorted to neanderthal tactics.

The 37th annual Vanier Cup, pitting the St. Mary's Huskies (the winner of the Atlantic Bowl) against the Manitoba Bisons (the winner of the Churchill Bowl), was marred by a rash of penalties.

Nonetheless, the number one ranked Huskies obliterated the number three ranked Bisons 42-16 in front of a Skydome crowd of 19,138.

"You look at [this weekend's] score and the scores from all [previous Vanier Cup games] – we have to be considered one of the greatest programs to ever play in [Canadian Interuniversity Sport]," said Huskies' head coach Blake Nill.

Afterwards Huskies' quarterback Ryan Jones, the winner of the Ted Morris award for the game's most valuable player, expressed a sentiment felt throughout the Huskies ranks. "We're just overwhelmed right now. It's so satisfying after all the years of hard work to go out with such a convincing win," he said.

The Huskies are only the second team in CIS history to win the Vanier Cup with an undefeated season. The other being our beloved purple and white Western Mustangs in 1994.

The game stayed relatively tight throughout the first half, with both teams feeling each other out. The Huskies amassed 16 penalties for 138 yards, many of them unnecessary roughness calls, to break the existing Vanier Cup record for penalties and penalty yards in a game. Amazingly, the Huskies performed the feat in just one half.

The Huskies jumped out to a 10-0 lead on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jones to slotback Patrick Thibeault at 7:40 of the first quarter and it appeared the Huskies may well have been on the way to their usual slaughter. But the Bisons fought their way back and went into the locker room down 18-13.

The first half was marked by some scintillating catches. On the Huskies' late second quarter drive, slotback Paul Fleming made a 42-yard reception, diving over a Bisons defender to reel in the pigskin.

But the catch of the day was courtesy of Huskies wide receiver Dave Stala, who reached for the heavens to pull down a one-handed, 23-yard reception. The catch had even the press box core – who has seen more than a few highlight grabs – gasping with bewilderment.

The game was blown wide open at 9:24 of the fourth quarter, when Huskies' defensive end Kyl Morrison intercepted a telegraphed Bisons pass and rumbled 28 yards for the touchdown. For his late game heroics, Morrison was awarded the Bruce Coulter award for most valuable defensive player.

Jamie Boreham, a Bisons safety, was choked up while trying to express his dismay with the loss. "Somewhere around the end of the third quarter, they just fed us. I don't know how you say something good about what happened today. Nobody remembers second best," he said.

Jones finished the game 19 for 32 passing with 290 yards and three touchdowns in the process. The wealth was spread out with five different receivers making catches, but it was receiver Jay Currie who welcomed the biggest load, catching seven passes for 91 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, Morrison was electric with his game-breaking plays and was assisted by defensive back Curtis Nash, a speedy, ferocious tackler. Nash tackled five frightened Bisons and sacked Bisons signal-caller Shane Munson once.

This year's Vanier Cup could be considered a trial for the Huskies. They spent the entire year trying to prove that their conference isn't just a bucket full of misfits like many critics have argued.

Nothing makes a case like irrefutable evidence and if a 42-16 drubbing doesn't sway the jury, then nothing will. Nill left a resounding rebuttal to the Huskies now cowering critics.

"I think Canada better take a look – maybe it's the other leagues that don't have any competition," he said.

Beth Kerim/Gazette
I HAVE A FEELING SOMETHING VERY BAD IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. Manitoba Bison's quarterback Shane Munson's instincts were right on as the St. Mary's Huskies obliterated Manitoba 42-16 in the Vanier Cup.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001