Sunday, November 29, 2015
VANIER CUP: UBC 26 MONTREAL 23
The 19-year-old O'Connor passed for 389 yards and van Gylswyk's fourth field goal with no time left was the game-winner as UBC edged the defending champion University of Montreal Carabins 26-23 in a thrilling Vanier Cup final on Saturday afternoon.
"I knew they weren't going to let us run the ball so I had to play well for my teammates if we were going to win this game,'' said O'Connor, considered by many to be Canada's best quarterback prospect since another Ottawa native more than a decade ago, Jesse Palmer.
"We came out hot in the first half. A bit sloppy in the second half when I'd like to have some throws back, but hey, we pulled out the W.''
It was a stunning performance from a team that was 2-6 last season and went 6-2 in Canada West conference play this season under veteran coach Blake Nill, who was lured to UBC after building a powerhouse at the University of Calgary.
Nill, who coached St. Mary's to Vanier Cups in 2001 and 2002 and who became the first winner with two different teams, had to choke back tears. His Dinos had lost Vanier Cups at the same field, Telus Stadium at Laval University, three times.
"We made it tough on ourselves but that's what you expect from a young team,'' said the 53-year-old Nill. "This group of guys, I don't even think they were picked to make the playoffs in Canada West this year.
"What they have done is one of the most amazing things I've seen. I can't grasp it right now.''
A lively but less than capacity crowd of 12,557 seemed split between fans of the Carabins and those who wanted the Laval Rouge et Or's closest rivals to lose.