Good luck trying to slot the eight teams in the Top 10 after Laval and Western, which won by fair margins on Saturday. No. 3 Saskatchewan and No. 7 Queen's have each survived a pair of scares at home. Simon Fraser and St. Francis Xavier, which dumped No. 4 Saint Mary's, have been impressive. Laurier is another story.
Talk about poetic justice. A missed field goal kept St. FX from extending Saint Mary's to overtime in the playoffs last season. It was just that the biggest play in the X-Men's 24-19 victory came from a kicker, with Anthony Alix ran 41 yards down to the Huskies' 11-yard line to set up the decisive points in coach Gary Waterman's first victory.
Ruminations on the games are below the jump.
St. Francis Xavier 24, No. 4 Saint Mary's 19 — There are no final wins in the AUS. The home-and-home schedule means it's really more like basketball, where the first game is just the curtain-raiser on a three-act play.
Dave Skillen wrapped up the win for X with an interception with a little more than a minute remaining. Fifth-year QB Steve Snyder was solid, throwing 33 times for 245 yards.
One can point to a lot of moments in this game. A hunch is that the first drive of the second half, where X went 89 yards in five plays for a TD (44-yard catch by Nick Guest), might have done wonders for their win probability.
Again, it's a first game. Saint Mary's can point to a failure to execute — four interceptions, a blown second-and-short early in the game and twice settling for chip-shot field goals. They left points on the field.
None of the big-time running backs — SMU's Devon and Tristan Jones and Craig Leger, X's James Green — piled up yards.
Acadia 58, Mount Allison 15 — Pretty open-and-shut ... as in Axemen receivers were open all day and Mount A cannot shut down anyone. Acadia QB Keith Lockwood went the distance at QB, passing 39 times for a career-high 435 yards with Will Tanner and Devon Jones each enjoying century games. For one game at least, Acadia looked solid, but it would take more to show how will they match up physically with the other two AUS teams. Backup QB Kyle Graves scored twice on short runs.
It feels like it will be a long year for Mount A without Kelly Hughes.
No. 5 Calgary 34, Alberta 31 — Perhaps the score flattered the U of A a bit, since the Golden Bears were down 18 points before former Dino Julian Marchand authored two late touchdown drives to make it more respectable.
The Dinos were humming on offence:
- Erik Glavic: 27 passes for 320 yards, plus another 81 rushing, 2 TDs accounted for;
- Matt Walters: 25 rushes for 152 yards and the other two TDs;
- Anthony Parker: 203 rushing-receiving yards, including a 77-yard TD catch.
No. 2 Western 30, No. 6 Laurier 7 — The truth can be harsh and disturbing. How can that be considered beautiful? It's open to debate who more sucked the fun out of the University Rush season premiere, Western's devastating defence or Laurier's offence, which was a little lacking.
Western's linebacking corps, including John Surla and Conor Elliott (don't let the DB number, 24, fool you, he's a linebacker) were key. Laurier had very little going for it offensively, and only a window-dressing TD by wideout Shamawd Chambers from the backup QB kept them from being blanked for the first time since 1984. It's debatable — it was debated on the liveblog earlier — how much of the struggles were on QB Luke Thompson and how much was on the O-line and receivers. There were instances when Thompson hung on to the ball way too long.
This could have been more one-sided, Considering Laurier had seven turnovers (including a 63-yard pick-six by Aaron Hansor) and Western had just one. Western's offence was just efficient. Michael Faulds passing 30 times for 315 yards and a pair of TD plays suitable for framing, a 28-yarder to Josh Svec just before the half and a 77-yard pass-and-run job to Da'Shawn Thomas, who is a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare when he runs an up route coming out of the backfield.
Laurier's defence hung in, but it was on the field too long. Giancarlo Ranpanaro, another of the innumberable Niagara Falls natives who is a big-play defender in the league, was a bright spot with two sacks.
One small concern for Western was that Nathan Riva (game-high 86 rushing yards) limped off after a teammate blocked a Laurier into the back of his leg on a punt return.
No. 7 Queen's 8, McMaster 7 — Golden Gaels QB Dan Brannagan coming out in the first half with an injury is the main post-game story, since Queen's managed to muddle through to 2-0 without him.
Brannagan took a hard hit from Mac's Justin Vince in the second quarter and did not return, although indications are that it was a precautionary move, nothing to cause great concern. Their other two QBs were each pressed into service, with third-year Tom Howes showing more poise than freshman Justin Chapdelaine.
The Golden Gaels just refused to lose, apparently, although they had five turnovers and three missed field goals. Mac, which was held to 158 yards offence, had gift-wrapped opportunities to take the lead, starting fourth-quarter possessions at the Gaels 35- and 49-yard lines after turnovers. QB Ryan Fantham threw two straight incompletions each time and the Gaels held.
T.J. Leeper, one of the country's smallest linebackers at 5-foot-7, 198 lbs., had 4 1/2 tackles, while safety Matt Vickers made six tackles. Offensively, Jimmy Therrien had a career-high 29 rushes for 181 yards. Mac's Jordan Kozina was held to 40 yards.
Mac apparently figured out the best way to keep Jimmy Allin from taking one to the house was to not have to kick off. All their points came off Andy Waugh's foot.
Guelph 66, York 8 — Gryphons running back Nick Fitzgibbon rushed for 202 yards and had another 103 receiving; normally the 200-100 double is only seen in video games.
One has to hand it to York: They have a touchdown each way — defence, special teams, and offence (William Austin hauled in a six-yard toss to break the shutout late in the fourth quarter) before U of T has a touchdown any way. The Lions at least are not quitters.
Ottawa 45, Waterloo 11 — Gee-Gees running back Jordan Wilson-Ross rushing 15 times for 232 yards made this a very, very easy write-up.
Windsor 30, U of T 3 — A perfect end to a perfect day for an OUA apologist on a day that had four blowouts and a hockey score (8-7). The Varsity Blues avoided a second skunking in succession when Andrew Lomansey kicked a field goal with one second left.
Daniel Carloni started in place of injured Sam Malian and only had to pass 13 times for 163 yards, including an 80-yarder to Jordan Brescansin. Paul Lefaive (18 rushes for 148 yards) led the running game.
U of T was apparently a 20-20 team ... they moved the ball between the 20s. Jansen Shrubb was 14-of-26 for 174 yards and two INTs, but they couldn't finish.
Windsor faces a much better litmus test next week at Western.
No. 1 Laval 45, Bishop's 6 — The stats are pretty self-explanatory. Sébastien Lévesque rushed 11 times for 172 yards and a pair of scores. Between Lévesque, Sherbrooke's Pascal Fils and McGill's Andrew Hamilton, there are some breakaway threats in QUFL backfields. They might make it easier to forget that guy who wore No. 28 for Bishop's last season.
Steven Turner scored Bishop's only points on a 62-yard punt-return TD. A special teams TD? Hah, we have found a ding in Laval's armour.