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Former G5, FCS, D2, & D3 Players Shine In 108th Grey Cup

As the Canadian Football League’s season came to an end, the championship game featured several NCAA underdogs of yesterday.

108th Grey Cup Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

It was a cold and windy night in Hamilton, Ontario as the Canadian Football League season came to a close.

While halftime act The Lumineers acknowledged our gentle ribbing of them in Twitter, that was far from the most exciting thing to happen for G5 fans.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in overtime by a score of 33-25 in Hamilton to claim their second-consecutive Grey Cup title. The Bombers won the league in 2019 and the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros finished the game with 21 completions on 32 attempts for 240 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Collaros played at Cincinnati from 2008-2011 and totaled 51 passing touchdowns with 6278 yards as a Bearcat. Collaros was also a first team All-Big East selection in 2010. Collaros was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player this season.

Winnipeg kicker Sergio Castillo, a product of West Texas A&M of the DII ranks, was a perfect 5/5 on field goal attempts on the evening.

Receiver Rasheed Bailey, a Philadelphia native and Delaware Valley University (D3) all-time leader in receiving yards, hauled in three catches for sixty yards.

Ex-Fresno State Linebacker Kyrie Wilson and Central Washington product Adam Bighill contributed five tackles apiece for the Bombers with Wilson also adding an interception.

On the other side for Hamilton, Tulsa product Dane Evans, who had been in the midst of a breakout season for the Tiger-Cats, completed four of nine attempts for 24 yards and one interception. Evans exited the game early with an injury and was replaced by Jeremiah Masoli.

108th Grey Cup Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Former Houston Cougars receiver Steven Dunbar was the leading pass catcher for Hamilton in the loss with six grabs for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Postgame, Bombers’ defensive end and Stephen F. Austin product Willie Jefferson was soaking in the moment, reflecting on his team’s ability to win a close game in hostile territory.

“C’mon down to Winnipeg, man! We’re still here. We’re still doing it. Bigger, better, faster, stronger. I mean, c’mon. That was a street fight out there from the beginning to the end. As a Grey Cup champion who has been fighting all year, you wouldn’t want it any other way. We like the fight. We like to keep swinging.”

An additional G5 tie for the victorious Bombers: offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Buck Pierce had some memorable on-field performances of his own as a QB at New Mexico State from 2001 to 2004.

Collaros was named the game’s MVP and was visibly emotional following the win.

“Back-to-back for this organization, for the province… it’s just unbelievable,” said Collaros on stage during the celebration. “It’s about the team, man. Look at these guys with everybody’s family in the stands. It’s been an incredible year.

“I can’t say enough about how much everybody means to me. I’ve never been on a team like this. I love everybody on the team. We’re going to party tonight, baby. Let’s go.”

Good omen for Collaros’ Bearcats who begin the College Football Playoff on December 31st against Alabama? We’ll see.