With less than two minutes to go and the Vanier Cup championship tied 23-23 between the UBC Thunderbirds and Montreal Carabins, the former Westshore Rebels kicker and Spectrum graduate was staring at a 42-yard field goal for a possible win. His Dinos had lost Vanier Cups at the same field, Telus Stadium at Laval University, three times.
In a dramatic finish, UBC intercepted a Montreal pass to regain possession with just over a minute to play.
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. "I had dreamt that I would have a last-second field goal for the win and that I would have this Michigan State-like celebration down the field".
"They've got as good a quarterback as we're going to face this year", said Maciocia, who compared O'Connor to Jesse Palmer, another Ottawa quarterback who played for the New York Giants from 2001 to 2004. But Nill admits the Thunderbirds are still a half-formed team that relies heavily on its rookie quarterback.
"A lot of our success is based on his ability to make plays, to stretch the defence, which allows our run game to have some success", Nill had said.
"My Calgary and Saint Mary's programs were based on an ability to run the football, allowing you to open up the pass game".
Cousineau was not drafted by a CFL club, so the Vanier Cup game will nearly certainly be his last. "Hopefully in the future, we'll be back to the traditional mould but we're not right now and Michael is a big part of any success we're going to have".
On Saturday after the game, Nill was struggling to fully comprehend what his young team had accomplished.
Nick Termansen, a corner back for UBC, says even they're surprised they made it this far.
Third quarter, 16-10 now and the hand off to UBC running back Brandon Deschamps who finds a hole and 44 yards later it's a touchdown to make it 23-10.
Montreal QB Gabriel Cousineau gets picked off by Dylan Chapdelaine.
Momentum turned late in the half when the Carabins' Jonathan Boissonneault-Glaou recovered a fumbled punt at the UBC 28.
UBC opted for a fake field goal while inside the Montreal five, but it failed, and a last-minute drive helped by a 23-yard Cousineau run ended with a final-play 10-yard boot by David Deschamps.
Montreal answered with two drives capped by David Deschamps' field goals, from 22 and 12 yards.
It leads too Cousineau completing to Samuel Nadeau-Piuze for a 6-yard touchdown and the game is tied at 23.