Football Week 9 digest: Connell, Galas go into record books; Giffin dinged up; now the QUFL has crazy scenarios

This post will get updated throughout the weekend ...

Canada West

No. 4 Calgary 25, Manitoba 18:
Like Ontario, the Canada West playoffs start next week -- Manitoba is at Regina and the winner is in, plain and simple.

The Bisons have played better with each week. Calgary has got it done with defence and the running game all season. Today didn't seem to be much different, with Chase Moore making 10 solo tackles on D and Matt Walter running 23 times for 147 yards, including a 31-yarder to pay dirt in the second half. Of note: On the go-ahead touchdown drive, a 10-play 73-yard march, receiver Taylor Altillo kept the drive moving with an 11-yard run on a third-and-5. Was that a fake punt? Calgary coach Blake Nill has been known to pull that one.

Thankfully, Regina coach Frank McCrystal is not the outspoken type, so he probably won't have much to say ahead of next week's big game.

No. 6 Saskatchewan 16, No. 8 Simon Fraser 4: When in doubt with Canada West, just take the Huskies. Saskatchewan only needs to beat UBC to have home-field advantage for the playoffs after getting it down in rain-soaked Saskatoon.

Apparently those B.C. boys aren't used to operating in the rain. Simon Fraser was held to two conceded safeties and just 203 yards net offence. Tyler O'Gorman and Travis Gorski, who scored the only touchdown of the game in the third quarter, each had 100-yard games for the Green Dogs.

Regina 38, Alberta 31: If you had told people that the Rams' Teale Orban would throw five touchdown passes and Alberta's Quade Armstrong would throw five interceptions and asked them to pick the point spread, most would not have said seven points.


Bishop's 33, No. 5 Concordia 25:
Boy, the Gaiters became a fly in the ointment, setting up a three-way battle for the final two QUFL playoff spots with an eight-point win. Jamall Lee ran for 189 yards and might have zoomed up in the Hec Crighton handicapping, depending on what Benoit Groulx does for Laval today, while Andrew Collymore made a huge fourth-quarter interception after BU had gone ahead for good.

(An injury kept Mike Giffin from topping up his stats for Queen's.)

Bishop's (3-4) is at Montréal (4-3) next week while the Stingers (4-3) travel to Sherbrooke (5-1 entering their game at Laval on Sunday).

Montréal seems better than they're generally given credit for, but they're also known as a very mercurial team, so one wouldn't put it past them to lose next week. Is it fair to say the team who wins that one will be the only who keeps their penalty yardage below triple-digits? (Is that even possible?)

The Carabins will be at home, though, and they have a tough defence that can do a number on run-heavy teams (just ask Saint Mary's).

Concordia, who is arguably the No. 3 team in the country, is in no matter what and could still get home field for the QUFL semi-final. Their game at Sherbrooke still stacks up as a semi-final preview, but there's some question over where or if they'll play.

If the Stingers end up 4-4, they have the tiebreaker over the Carabins and Gaiters (whom they beat by 15 in the first matchup). Montréal can end up third, fourth or fifth.

In the event of a 3-way tie (Concordia loses, Bishop's wins), it would come down to the head-to-head. Concordia is plus-8, Montreal is minus-1 and the Gaiters are minus-7. Bishop's would need at least a three-point win to pull even with Montreal, who they would then have the tiebreaker over.

Montréal 45 McGill 23: Redmen QB Matt Connell supplanted former McMaster star Ben Chapdelaine as the all-time leader in pass yardage, finishing with 10,201 for his career after a 320-yard day.

Connel went past 10,000 for his career with a short pass to Erik Galas (who's from Ottawa!) in the second quarter. Galas caught 13 passes, bringing him to 190 for his career and topping Andy Fantuz' career mark with one game to spare in his fifth and final season (bear in mind, Dandy Andy only played four seasons, albeit in the OUAin't).

The achievement will have its critics, seeing as McGill is oh for the last two seasons and runs a gimmicky shotgun offence. One also has to consider the amount of pass protection Connell has had at times and the defences McGill faces.

No. 1 Laval 41, No. 9 Sherbrooke 3: Ho, hum. Laval isn't showing too many chinks in its armour — Benoît Groulx was 21-of-36 for 283 yards and Christopher Milo booted five field goals. The Vert et Or once again flip-flopped their quarterbacks.


McMaster 40, Windsor 11:
A pick-six by Mac's Kurt Morrison in the third quarter opened up a three-touchdown spread for the Marauders, who will have a rematch against Laurier in the OUA quarter-final next weekend. They're fully deserving of their playoff berth.

The Lancers committed eight turnovers and played two-hand touch against Mac's Joey Nemet (20 rushes for 172 yards), which makes it totally fair to wonder about the coaching. Mike Morencie is a good man, but he's becoming to OUA football what the Kingston Frontenacs' Larry Mavety is to the Ontario Hockey League.

Mac coach Stefan Ptaszek has a potent offence. Mac QB Ryan Fantham threw for 235 yards and three TDs. Can Mac stop anyone in the playoffs, though?

Please spare a thought for Windsor's Daryl Stephenson. He no doubt wanted more than anything to win a playoff game at least once in his career. He deserved a lot better than to go out on a 12-carry, 23-yard day.

Windsor rush end Chad Cossette entered today in a 3-way tie for the OUA sack crown. He got one in the fourth quarter, but Osie Ukwuoma of Queen's, got two against Waterloo to finish with a league-best 9½.

Ottawa 39, U of T 30: The good news is that Ottawa has a game against Guelph next week. Let's refrain from calling it the Bart Simpson Bowl, the Underachievers' Cup, since the winner would likely end up meeting Queen's in an OUA semi-final.

Despite all that's happened, they still have a chance to do some damage, especially since all-everything receiver Ivan Birungi will likely be back for next week. At the same time, Ottawa has faced first-half deficits of 37-3, 31-0 and 23-10 during the past four weeks. They got by this weekend by having bigger and faster athletes than Toronto -- you could see the Varsity Blues' shoulders start to slump by about the middle of the third quarter. Give them credit, though, they hung in until the end.

Davie Mason proved to be a more effective closer than anyone the Tampa Bay Rays had in their bullpen on Thursday night -- he was taking Toronto tacklers for rides during two fourth-quarter TD drives.

Josh Sacobie, who took a whack on his throwing hand early in the game, was below 200 yards passing for Ottawa, so Ben Chapdelaine still has the OUA passing yardage mark. Ottawa has about a three-play offence -- Davie Mason up the middle, the stretch play to Felix Desjardins-Potvin behind the left-side combo of Phillippe David and Frank Spera, and an inside zone play. They more or less mothballed the passing game.

Watching from the Out of Left Field world headquarters (a ground-floor, one-bedroom apartment in Nepean), bald and overweight, I almost wanted to be out there with the U of T team. They played with a lot of heart, and even though they were physically overmatched, it was a two-point game with 2½ minutes left.

The twins on U of T who hail from Ottawa, receiver Cory and safety Kyle Kennedy, have come up big. Cory Kennedy, who was playing his final game in his hometown, caught Toronto's first TD, and Kyle Kennedy had an interception and a pass breakup.

Toronto's Jeff LaForge will also be able to say that he scored touchdowns in his last three games against the Gee-Gees. The game before that, a 72-0 loss in 2005, Toronto didn't score at all.

Toronto could have been up 31-10 in the first half. They settled for a single after being in goal-to-go. After the third touchdown, a moon shot kickoff bounced all the way to the end zone, where U of T d-back Willie Sharpe nearly fell on the ball for a TD before it was covered for the single.

No. 2 Queen's 38, Waterloo 22: The Golden Gaels' Mike Giffin took a whack on his right knee on his team's first offensive play and did not return, but CFRC 101.9 FM is reporting that it was only a precaution. Queen's finishes 8-0 for the first time in school history and has its first unbeaten season since 1989.

The Giffinator's backups, Marty Gordon and Jimmy Therrien, each ran for fourth-quarter touchdowns after Luke Balch rallied Waterloo and got them within eight points.

Dan Brannagan had three TDs through the air for Queen's, two to Scott Valberg. Valberg made nine receptions for 142 yards, which would bring him to 1,013 for the season, meaning he and Giffin (1,061 rushing) are probably the second runner-receiver combo to each gain 1,000 yards in the same season. (If anyone knows if it's been done by any other team -- say Calgary in the mid-'90s during the Don Blair era).

Balch had a nice day for UW -- he completed 10 of his first 11 for the Warriors and also had a 47-yard run. The upshot for Queen's is they got through this game, and finish 8-0 in the regular season for the first time in school history.

No. 3 Western 47, Guelph 16 There's not much to say here, other than one would have figured the Gryphons would do better seeing as the 'Stangs have nothing on the line. Guelph basically pulled the chute once Western opened a 28-16 halftime lead.

The Ottawa-Guelph quarter-final will match up teams and quarterbacks who have dealt with more than their fair share of frustration this season. Justin Dunk could blow sky-high, especially against Ottawa's defenders, who like to talk on the field.

No. 10 Laurier 50, York 13: Please don't take this as hectoring ... the Lions did manage a couple milestones today. They scored two touchdowns in the same game for the first time all season, with Jason Marshall ending a 314-minute, 26-second end-zone drought with a two-yard scoring run late in the first half.

York avoided going the whole season without a touchdown pass, when rookie running back Ryan Rowe caught a five-yarder from graduating quarterback Bart Zemanek with 1:57 to play. There isn't much else to say, other to try to make light of York's futility this season and say hopefully it gets better for Mike McLean in 2009.


No. 7 Saint Mary's 31, Mount Allison 16:
The Huskies like to play with fire, don't they? Mount Allison had a couple red-zone turnovers and this was in doubt until Jeff Zelinski returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown with 2:34 to play. Saint Mary's is just on cruise control until the national semi-final, but they haven't had a signature performance, save for perhaps their eight-point win at Bishop's.

Mount A's Kelly Hughes passed for 273 yards and served as his own running game, rushing 17 times for 167 yards. He probably should be the Atlantic Conference MVP and Hec Crighton trophy nominee. Gary Ross also totalled 305 all-purpose yards for the Mounties.

St. Francis Xavier 31, Acadia 20: The AUS remains as loosey-goosey are ever, but at least the playoff seedings are set -- why not take next week off? Saint Mary's (6-1) will await the winner of the Mount Allison-St. FX semi-final in Antigonish on Nov. 8.

X-Men tailback James Green sat out this game after hurting his knee the week before. What's the story there? The Axemen (0-7) lost by 11 points or less for the fourth time this season.
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  1. Windsor and McMaster would have been within a point of each other at this point if not for a strange interpretation of the no yards rule. Mac punted, Windsor fumbled the kick back to them, but Mac got within the five-yard radius and drew a flag. For some reason, the officials took the flag away. Upshot is the Marauders recovered on the 2 and Peressini's TD came soon after. Very strange call.

    Speaking of Peressini, he's very hard to defend with that ability to not only outrun everyone, but change directions with ease. Although, I've been more impressed so far with the Mac O-line, who have created a lot of holes for the backs and given Ryan Fantham enough time to make good throws. Fantham's not a bad quarterback, but he's looked better than not-bad today.

    The receivers on both sides of this matchup have had some trouble, though...

  2. Ottawa-Guelph will be a game to watch next week. An incredibly intriguing matchup.

  3. Then ottawa-guelph should be shown on The Score?

  4. Also, thanks to Bishop's for making my criticism of Concordia in the last Top 27 comments section look good... it's appreciated.

  5. @Bucholtz: We do what we can!

  6. The ottawa-guelph game will be shown on the score.

    Sacobie took a hit on his throwing hand (helmet?) early in the game, could not grip the ball properly ,and could not throw with any authority.

    It is possible that they could have any or all of veteran receivers Birungi, Wood-Roy, Bolduc, and St. Hillaire back for next weekend.

  7. @ Rob: I saw that ... I'd have to ask the resident football ref in my office about that. It could be that they picked up the flag. The kick also bounced.

    @ John: The Gaiters are the best and the classiest team who wears purple and silver helmets.

    One would think it would be Ottawa-Guelph ... Laurier-Mac brings in more of the 416/905 audience though.

    (By the way, the Rogers Community announcer during the U of T-Ottawa game said the Gee-Gees could set a course for the 905 area code for the playoffs ... isn't Guelph in the 519?)

  8. Yeah, Guelph is 519, just like half of the OUA. Maybe they thought Ottawa was going to play Mac?

  9. Queen's gets to play the lowest remaining seed after this Saturday. If Mac beats Laurier,they are the lowest remaining seed at sixth. Not impossible, as Mac has won 4 out of their last 5 games.
    Both quarter finals will be interesting.

  10. God, I wish there were an OUA - QUFL interlock to expose the OUA's top teams for what they are...

    Bishop's would give Queen's a tough game. For real.

    Of course, this post (or, in the eyes of Ontario posters, inane ramblings) will be written off as that of a drunken (true) anti-OUA (false) know-nothing.

  11. Point well-taken.

    I'll point you to post I wrote in early August:

    " Something has to be done to address the appearance of the OUA not being competitive nationally, which hurts the perception of CIS football ... The conference won't be to live off Laurier's 2005 upset of Saskatchewan forever. It's true that all four conferences have produced a Vanier Cup winner within the past six years, the shortest span since 1977-80, when there was a Western-Queen's-Acadia-Alberta line of succession.

    "However, that only covers the two weeks at the end of the season. There's a lot more to be done about week-to-week competitiveness and public interest."

    I'm not so sure about the word appearance, but I was trying to speak to how perception is reality. I believe that top to bottom, the Q is the best conference, but no one can answer for sure how much better.

    It would be good to know how Queen's and Western compare with the Q teams who are not named Laval. I want to know just as bad as you do.

    Why couldn't we have interlock between all 3 conferences? Have the 4 non-OUA playoff teams from this year each play Acadia, X, McGill and Mount A next season. Have the 6 playoff teams play Laval, Con U, Sherby, Bish, Montréal and Saint Mary's.

    The Q teams could still have their AUS interlock ...

    No one's dismissing your ramblings ... you're right!

    Point being, I can remember Queen's guys who didn't like the move from the old O-QIFC to the OUA ... as one put it, being in the O-Q put them in a "produce or perish" environment, i.e., more challenging.