Yates Cup: Semi-Live, Semi-Insightful Blog

First quarter

David Clayton's emergence is the story of Western's second-half surge... his two big catches downfield have been the bulk of the Mustangs' first-quarter offence.

The one caveat with the Gryphons is their young receivers: David Harrison dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone, which is a hug momentum swing.

Anthony Adderley had a nice second-down catch to set up Western's first touchdown, a five-yard run by Randy McAuley. It's 7-0 after one.

Second quarter

The OUA is going to have to look into changing the application of this penalty: Guelph blocked a punt by Western's Derek Schiavone, but was called for illegal interference during the scramble for the ball, allowing the Mustangs to keep possession (first down at the point of the foul).

It was third-and-20, and as Tim Micallef rightly pointed out on The Score, "There's no way that Schiavone picks up that ball and picks up 20 yards." That could have really helped Guelph out to take over in Western territory.

Too funny by half: On the next play, Western's Jesse Bellamy was making the universally acknowledged signal for a pass-interference call. This was after a poorly applied rule kept Western's offence on the field, and two plays after Adderley was awarded a catch on a ball that appeared to touch the ground. (Duane Forde said, "I'm not sold," while watching the replay, and remember, he's an ex-Mustang.)

Is it just me, or can Guelph come up with a way to get penalized whenever it's got Western down a bit? An unnecessary roughness call on a punt moved the ball out from the eight-yard line to the Mustangs 23.

A two-play, 98-yard drive: That will defeat the purpose of trying to play ball control. Guelph just tied the game 7-7 on a 58-yard run by Nick FitzGibbon, who had lined up as a slotback on the play. It was set up by a 40-yard catch by Harrison.

Sign just spotted in the crowd: "Western, easier to take down than the Saugeen Stripper." No idea what that could refer to; no idea at all.

Well, maybe not so much. The 'Stangs have come right back to reopen a seven-point lead, 14-7, with McAuley scoring from five yards out after a long catch by rookie wideout Zach Bull. Three minutes to go in the half.

Injuries are starting to pile up for the 'Stangs: Their only OUA first-team defensive all-star, Corey McNair has limped out and outside linebacker Jason Kosec just had to be helped off. Zach Bull, who had that big catch, is done for the day with an injury.

For the second time in three weeks, a major media outlet has called Justin Dunk "Jason." The odd part is that when Adnan Virk did it, he called him by his correct name first, then quote-unquote corrected himself.

Halftime — Western 14, Guelph 7

Quick analysis of the Mustangs: Western's playing a good road game again -- solid defence except for that one Guelph drive that probably account for half the Gryphons total yards. They were a second-half team in both the first two playoff rounds, so it's huge for them to be ahead at the half.

Quick analysis of the Gryphons: The question is whether not getting rewarded early, thanks to a dropped TD pass in the end zone and missed field goal, has caused frustration to set in for a young Guelph team.

Third quarter

Guelph tied it on a TD catch by Harrison, but Western replied with a 37-yard Schiavone field goal. (Work commitments are making for spottier blocking.)

Take nothing away from Western for sticking with what's working, but man, is their offence boring. Run up the middle. Sideline pass. Yawn. It's not sport, it's art, man.

Fourth quarter

A six-play, 72-yard drive, capped by a TD catch by Adderley, has put Western up 24-14 and now it's just in the wind-the-clock stages. Full credit to Western, it's earned it with a stout defensive effort and a reliable offence.

Strange call by Guelph just to go with unimaginative QB sneak on a third-and-1 that failed with with seven minutes left. Why not try something? Seven minutes left, down 10 in an elimination game, isn't that the time to go against the book?

Schiavone tacks on a field goal to make it 27-14. Ball game.

Guelph will regret a couple early drops by its young receiving corps, the failure to get Nick FitzGibbon into space in the second half and maybe some tentative play from its secondary that allowed Michael Faulds to convert some broken plays. Western was clutch; the Gryphons will feel like they spit the bit somewhat. They are a young team, so it's reasonable to believe they will be back.

Who did a more egregious job of giving away a playoff game on home turf — Queen's, Ottawa or now Guelph? That's not meant to take away from Western's accomplishment, but when a road team wins in the post-season, usually the other guys had to do a lot to grease the skids. It's not fair to Western to say this Yates Cup fell into its lap; they did what they had to do, but it really feels like about four other teams missed a big opportunity.
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