Laurier wins Vanier Cup thriller

Laurier Golden Hawks win Vanier Cup

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks have won the 2005 Vanier Cup, defeating the Saskatchewan Huskies 24-23 in a nail-biter Saturday at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton.

Brian Devlin booted a 32-yard field goal with 19 seconds to go to seal the victory for Laurier, who capped a perfect 12-0 season.

"We have the heart of a lion," said Laurier quarterback Ryan Pyear, named the game's MVP.

A thrilling back-and-forth battle saw Laurier set up the exciting finish with just 2:53 left. Pyear found Brian Hickey for a six-yard touchdown to cut Saskatchewan's lead to 23-21.

A two-point convert attempt failed when a wide open Nick Cameron couldn't hold on to Pyear's wobbly pass.

Laurier kept fighting on its next possession, converting on a tough third-and-fifteen gamble when Dante Luciani made a 17-yard catch. That set up the winning kick.

"We thought about (punting) for a couple of seconds," said Laurier coach Gary Jeffries, fighting back tears. "We didn't want to give them the ball again and (risk) not getting it back. We took a shot at it and got it."

This was Laurier's second Vanier Cup victory, its first since 1991.

Saskatchewan was making its eighth Vanier appearance in 17 years, having earned the title in 1990, 1996 and 1998. This was the Huskies first loss of the season.

Saskatchewan looked to have things wrapped up when the Huskies' David Stevens ran 85 yards for a touchdown and a 23-15 lead.

That touchdown came after the Huskies took a 16-15 advantage early in the fourth on Braden Suchan's 41-yard field goal.

Leading 8-7 heading into the third quarter, Laurier put together a six-play, 54-yard drive capped by Pyear's five-yard pass to Cameron.

After a dull first quarter, Saskatchewan quarterback Steve Bilan hooked up with a Jeff Schieman over the middle for a 67-yard passing play. A few plays later Stevens ran the ball in from a yard out to put Saskatchewan up 7-1.

with files from Canadian Press