Vanier Cup champs
Gaels roar back from 18-point deficit to seal first national title since 1992
Saturday, Nov. 28, 4:05 p.m.
Updated 5:46 p.m.
QUEBEC CITY – As the Queen’s football team headed to the dressing room down 18 points after the first half of the 45th Vanier Cup, it looked as though their improbable playoff run was finally coming to an end.
But the Gaels roared back to score 26 unanswered points in the second half en route to a 33-31 victory over the Calgary Dinos at Université Laval’s PEPS Stadium. It was the largest second-half comeback in Vanier Cup history.
The win gives the Gaels their first national championship since 1992.
Queen’s head coach Pat Sheahan said he told his team they couldn’t afford to fall further behind after trailing 25-7.
“We had to score next. We could not get into too deep a hole. Getting down to 32-7 would have been too much,” he said.
“They were a little bit disappointed. I told them not to be disappointed. They hadn’t played well enough to be disappointed, to be honest with you.”
Queen’s quarterback Danny Brannagan, the game’s Most Valuable Player, passed for only 65 yards in the first half, but came alive in the second half, racking up 221 yards.
He found Devan Sheahan for a 60-yard touchdown on the third play of the second half.
Pat Sheahan, Devan’s father, said that was the game’s defining moment.
“You sort of sensed the emotion of the other team; it changed,” Sheahan said. “They were marching off that field like storm troopers. They were confident. They had won the half no question. So when we clawed back into it and made it close, I think that shocked them.”
Receiver Scott Valberg’s second touchdown of the game gave the Gaels their first lead of the game with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Valberg said the team never doubted itself.
“It was the maturity of our team that didn’t let us get down and get down on each other,” he said “We knew we were going to come back.”
Facing a deficit for the first time all game, Dinos quarterback Erik Glavic—the Hec Creighton Award winner— was sacked for the third time in the game for a loss of 14 yards on second down. That sent the Dinos’ punt team back out. On the next drive, Marty Gordon put the Gaels up by eight with eight minutes left on a 16-yard touchdown run.
Glavic led the Dinos back to within striking distance, and delivered with 6:38 left in the game on a 14-yard pass to Anthony Parker. But Calgary’s two-point conversion failed when Glavic’s throw slipped through running back Matt Walter’s hands.
The Gaels killed the clock for the rest of the game, which required two third-and-short conversions on their final drive.
The Dinos opened the scoring with five minutes to go in the first quarter when Walter scored on a two-yard touchdown run.
Brannagan responded by marching the Gaels downfield, completing a seven-play, 77-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to receiver Scott Valberg, who had been injured earlier in the drive.
The Dinos scored on a number of field goals in the first half. Their defence left Brannagan less time to throw than the Gaels’ previous opponents.
Brannagan said the game was a fitting end to his illustrious five-year career.
“This is always the goal,” he said. “It means a lot that I can go out and have my last game a victory at the Vanier Cup.”
Glavic’s scrambling also puzzled the Gaels’ defence. He rushed nine times for 44 yards in the game.
The game’s attendance was 18,638.