Football: Digesting Week 5 — Western wins a classic, a Heap of trouble and St. FX stands up for Atlantic

  • Final totals from the Western-Guelph shootout: Eighty points, 750 passing yards, seven lead changes and 8,750 hoarse fans. The Mustangs, thanks to an all-time bailout by Nathan Riva, who fell on a fumble in the final minute to preserve their victory drive, dealt Guelph its second last-second loss, 41-39. Justin Dunk, who made one sick play after another — 458 yards total offence — looked sickened by the ending.

    Say this much: No one will want to have Guelph coming to its stadium for a playoff game. They put up more than 500 yards on Western despite losing speedy Jedd Gardner on their first offensive series, thanks to Dillon Dimitroff stepping up.

  • How many third-down gambles did Western convert? There were at least three where it was more than third-and-sneak-it.

  • No. 4 Calgary hammered Simon Fraser 49-22, which sets them up to get some second-place votes in next week's Top 10, although Western's done nothing to lose that spot.

  • The AUS got its split in the interlock, with Saint Mary's shading Sherbrooke 26-23 and St. FX holding on to edge Concordia 19-17 despite being zilched in the second half.

  • Laurier's Dillon Heap had 420 all-purpose yards (130 receiving, 111 kickoff return, 179 punt return), meaning he outgained McMaster's entire offence in the Golden Hawks' 30-14 win.

  • In the Chase for Chapdelaine & Connell, Queen's Dan Brannagan (9,236 career yards) moved ahead of Western's Michael Faulds (9,137) in the bid to become the OUA's most profilic passer. Brannagan needs 739 to pass Ben Chapdelaine (9,974) and is 1,220 away from ex-McGill star Matt Connell's all-time record.

  • McGill is Andrew Hamilton, who had 352 rushing-receiving yards and four TDs in a 49-27 win over Mount Allison.

  • How much can be drawn from Saint Mary's Jack Creighton taking Saint Mary's down the field in the final 85 seconds to beat Sherbrooke 26-23? That is the-making-of-a-QB stuff, although Sherby, which was up 16-0 early, took its foot of the gas.

Top 10

No. 2 Western 41, No. 10 Guelph 39
— The tipping point in a game that was not decided until the 59-minute, 59-second mark was probably Western's willingness to gamble on third downs and make them.

The national TV audience, not to mention the Gryphons, will remember Nathan Riva falling on a Michael Faulds fumble to preserve Western's victory drive, plus a smart slip screen to Josh Svec (seven catches, 121 yards) which set up the winning field goal.

However, the point one should begin is a triumvirate of third-down gambles in the first three quarters which led to Western touchdowns on a day when no one could afford to settle for a field goal, except at the end. They had third-and-3 on an early drive, down 9-0, and got it with a Riva run behind Josh Buttrill and Andrew Rady. They went for it third-and-goal from the Guelph 3 and linebacker Jerod McCrory, lined up as an H-back, made the TD catch. They ran the ball on third-and-6 early in the second half Riva, who had 206 rushing-receiving yards, popped out of the pile for a 31-yard run.

Seriously, it was hard to tell if it was Greg Marshall coaching the Mustangs or Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights. Those were huge.

Conversely, Guelph elected to kick a field goal on third-and-goal from the Western 3 early in the fourth quarter when it took its final lead, 39-38. Some of the liveblog panelists first-guessed the call. Dunk can break contain, Western's D was beat-up and the worst-case is that Western is starting inside its own 5.

Western, led by Faulds' 415-yard, four-TD day (he ran for a fifth score on, naturally, third-and-goal), ensured its Oct. 17 visit to Queen's will take on added importance. It will be for home-field advantage, plus a chance to avoid preparing for Justin Dunk, who was nails, passing 39 times for 335 yards and rushing for another 123 and 3 TDs. On his third TD, he thrust the ball out before he even reached the five-yard line and clearly shouted something like, "Buck Western."

Honestly, this was like the Stu Turnbull game at the CIS Final 8 that involved the Western basketball team — an upstart challenging the conference's lodestar and thinking it had in the bag, only to have a team spin a little magic without betraying a hint of desperation.

Western was on the cusp of opening a 16-point lead in the third quarter before an end-zone INT by Jordan Duncan revived the Gryphons.

Guelph has scored 88 points in its two losses, giving up 910 yards passing in those two games. Nick Fitzgibbon was not a huge factor along the ground in either; he had 51 yards today, similar to the 24 he was limited to vs. Queen's. It was a hell of an effort and they legitimately look stronger than Laurier. (One bias that might be at play is that people sometimes overrate a good offensive team over a good defensive team. Laurier's D has yet to turn in a bad game; it would have been 50-7 instead of 30-7 if the unit had played poorly at Western on Sept. 12.)

The Mustangs had a lot of missed tackles on defence. Rob Pettapiece counted four on a 62-yard screen pass to Fitzgibbon in the fourth quarter (before that fateful field goal). They also had at least six penalties on kicking plays, plus a fumble on the opening kickoff). Some of the tackling and coverage problems might have had to with playing on grass in the rain. The officiating, which was not on par with the quality of the teams, was another variable that had to be accounted for.

Guelph led 9-0, 19-0, 36-31 and 39-38; Western led 10-9, 24-19, 38-36 and 41-39.

No. 4 Calgary 49, Simon Fraser 22 — The Dinos' cover teams helped set a tone early, recovering two fumbles inside the 25-yard line to help Erik Glavic, et al., roll out to a 28-3 lead before the game was 16 minutes old.

Glavic passed 16 times for 218 yards and three TDs and the Dinos (3-1) got Nathan Coehoorn (6-149 receiving, two TDs) going. Running back Matt Walter had a 121-yard rushing day, with two TDs (one was on a pass).

Calgary uses a lot of starters on special teams — defensive end Deji Oduwole forced the fumble that led to the day's first TD and DB Matt Grohn recovered another late in the first quarter.

The win puts the Dinos in the driver's seat in Canada West, with a half-game lead over Saskatchewan. They'll likely be No. 3 next week, with Western holding its spot.

Tongue-in-cheek, it was like SFU (2-2) had already moved to the NCAA. QB Caleb Clark played, so apparently his eligibility issues were resolved.

No. 5 Queen's 67, York 0 — There might some questions about why Dan Brannagan was in the game long enough to pass for 543 yards, but apparently the Golden Gaels planned to play him three quarters and let rookie Justin Chapdelaine handle the fourth. They did not deviate from that strategy. All-Canadian wideout Scott Valberg had a strong game and Tom Howes, the third-string quarterback who also moonlights as receiver, scored two touchdowns, one on a QB sneak and another on a 41-yard catch.

Queen's (4-0) has Windsor and Waterloo the next two weeks, both on the road. A matchup of unbeatens is possible for the Oct. 17 game vs. Western.

York's rookie linebacker, Robert Yeomans, was in on 10 tackles in his first game.

No. 6 Montréal 34, Acadia 13 — The dynamic dyad at Allez Les Bleus will have much to say. We saw a highlight of Montréal throwing a touchdown pass. After last week, it was mind-blowing.

No. 7 St. FX 19, Concordia 17 — The X-Men really seems to have this Queen's East routine down pat, having won their first three games by less than a touchdown.

Steve Snyder passed 38 times for 396 yards and hit two biggies in the first half, a 52-yard TD to Peter Giannikipolous and a 43-yard strike to Pat Coristine shortly before halftime that set up a one-yard scoring run. Henoc Muamba (eight tackles) must have had a pretty good game; it seemed like he was down for every tackle that forced Concordia into a kicking situation.

The Coristine catch came three plays after the Stingers (0-4) were offsides on a second-and-10, giving X a free play. Snyder ended making the inchage on a third-and-1, giving them a fresh set of downs they availed themselves of more than fully.

No. 8 Laurier 30, McMaster 14 — The Golden Hawks defence gave up no touchdowns, Dillon Heap ran all over the Marauders like a purple sock in a load of whites and the offence was good enough.

Since Laurier won, that makes it OK to joke that Evan Pawliuk passed for three touchdowns in his first start — two to Laurier, one to McMaster (Stephen Lynch had a pick-six for the Marauders). Heap and Shamawd Chambers each had 100-yard games and both caught an 80-yard-plus pass, while Alex Anthony had a two-TD game (the second was a fumble recovery).

McMaster was held to 254 yards as Kyle Quinlan went the distance at QB instead of Ryan Fantham. The Marauders look consigned to being a 4-4 team again, unless they upset Guelph.

Laurier (3-1) faces Ottawa (2-2) in the Oct. 3 University Rush game. They have a hard act to follow.

No. 9 Saint Mary's 26, Sherbrooke 23 — The Huskies pulled out a game where the lead changed hands three times in the final 8½ minutes, when Jack Creighton scored on one-yard drive to cap a 68-yard, 73-second victory drive.

Fittingly, since the game had more flags than the G20 summit (30 penalties for 270 yards), two Sherby pass-interference calls helped the Huskies' cause on the final drive. The officiating was probably a pain in the rectum for both teams.

For his part, Creighton (18-of-27, 198 yards) was pick-free and also had a beauty 43-yard completion to Jahmeek Murray on a second-and-16 early in the fourth quarter. Who know if SMU gets a shot at the end if they do not convert there.

Since SMU was in tough to slow down Pascal Fils (34 rushes for 205 yards, two TDs), they were often in bad field position. Their three TD drives covered 102, 90 and 68 yards.

It feels like Sherbrooke (2-2), which was up 16-0 and took a 23-19 lead with 2:25 left, released its boot from SMU's throat. They had a 10-play sustained drive in the third quarter result in no points when a 41-yard field goal hit the upright. Of course, they gave up a sack on the previous play (a cardinal sin in the red zone), making the kick tougher for William Dion. Sherby also had to take a safety in the fourth quarter on a possession which began its own 30-yard line. They got the ball back and scored, sure, but doing that from such field possession seems monstrously inefficient.


Waterloo 49, Windsor 0
— Hey, why are you laughing?

Luke Balch accounted for four Warriors TDs, Tyler Smith had a 33-yard interception return and god knows when was the last time Waterloo pitched a shutout. Rookie tailback Matt Socholotiuk also had 134 yards, including one broken-play run where he caught the ball after a shotgun snap ricocheted off Balch.

Windsor coach Mike Morencie's Millenesque tenure might be drawing to a close. The Lancers have been outscored 119-7 the past two games. Sam Malian only had two passes for Windsor, which makes one wonder if he was re-injured.

Canada West

Regina 28, UBC 17
— T-Birds QB Billy Greene had a rough day, fumbling the ball away once and throwing an interception inside his own 35-yard line, leading to 14 points for the Rams.

Regina (2-2) cobbled together some offence with Cale Inglis gaining 87 yards and scoring his first Canada West TD, while Graham Mosiondz chipped in 55.

UBC had a 393-375 edge in offence, with Greene putting up on-paper-good numbers, passing 34 times for 296 yards.

Perri Scarcelli averaged 43.1 yards punting and was 4-for-4 kicking. No wonder the Saskatchewan Roughriders like him (although can he do that rugby punt on the run like Jamie Boreham?)

AUS/QUFL Interlock

McGill 49, Mount Allison 27
— As noted up top, Hamilton was kind of a big deal, rushing for 257 yards and counting another 95 receiving (85 on one play, mind you). Cedric Bishop had two of the Redmen's five INTs.

Gary Ross also helped make it show for the fans in Sackville, scoring in multiple ways with a 25-yard TD catch and a 90-yard punt return TD. Mount Allison is in tough to start this season.

Incidentally, what was up with McGill having a convert and a field goal blocked and twice failing to get the kick away on the point after?
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  1. I hope that AUS fan who fired off several posts last week bitching and moaning about how SMU got "a slap in the face" from the rankings committee took note of the game against Sherbrooke.
    Now Sherbrooke is a decent team but not considered among the elite.
    SMU squeaked by them on home turf.
    In an exhibition contest, Ottawa beat the same team in Sherbrooke by two.
    SMU is a good team but not nearly as good as some make them out to be.

  2. Thanks for opening us the door... It wasn't a close match, but it wasn't a domination neither. We expected a lot of runs from our Rock'n Roll duo (Rotrand & Renière) but that never happened. Instead we had a lot of long passes (very rare from the Carbs) and passes in crossing patterns in the middle that made much of our offense. QB Marc-O Brouillette played its best game of the year, even though coming back from a concussion (and he received a couple of blows during the game, but didn't seem affected)...

    The 2 Californians for the Axemen, QB Lockwood and receiver-returner Devon Jones are superior football players who helped the game being interesting.