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Canisius Athletic Department BIO
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Howie Willis '50 - The youngest starter for the Griffins at age 17, the 155 lb. flyer from Philadelphia was a formidable force for the Griffins right away. An instrumental part of the Gridiron Griffs 17-14 win over St. Bonaventure in front of 40,000 fans, Willis single-handedly scored every point for the Griffs, including the winning field goal as he led the team to a Little Three Championship title. He also played a major role in the team's 25-20 win over Toledo that season as the Blue and Gold played against would-be future NFL stars at Marshall, Toledo, Fordham and Bowling Green, including offensive coach for Fordham Vince Lombardi, Bob Schnelker, Lee Pete and others.  As a sophomore in 1948, the versatile halfback, acting as quarterback, running back and kicker, completed 25-44 passes for a .568 average, 411 yards and nine touchdowns as he led the Golden Griffins to a second consecutive Little Three title and the Griffs first-ever post-season appearance at the Great Lakes Bowl. Heading into the Bowl game, Willis had made three touchdowns from scrimmage, carrying 295 yards in 60 tries. He also scored 76 points, 22 of which were points after touchdowns. Willis led the team, falling 14-13 to a John Carroll team that featured football-great Don Shula and Carl Taseff. That season, Willis was awarded All-America accolades.  At the end of his senior season on Feb. 8, 1950, football was removed from Canisius, not returning until 1975.  He also played baseball for the Golden Griffins.