Football Week 2 (Sunday edition): "Da Riva" runs through Ottawa; Laval lays licking on Stingers


No. 2 Western 32, No. 10 Ottawa 17
— Western indicated that it can be bombs-away in the passing game and also feed the ball to both Da'Shawn Thomas and Nathan Riva just enough to keep each tailback hungry. Their offence kept moving all day, while Ottawa kept getting moved back — and back — be penalties, drawing 18 flags for 151 yards, as Western won by a score nearly identical to its winning margin in the Yates Cup. Ottawa outgained Western 542-492 and scored only 17 points.

Western's defence might get overlooked after the numbers the Thomas-Riva tandem (headline: "Da Riva runs through GGs") produced, but they held Ottawa to just a single in the fourth quarter and no touchdowns after the first.

The big take-homes with Western's offence is that it is coming out very aggressively, trying to hit the deep seam routes which have not always been there through the Michael Faulds era. He finished with a decent yards-per attempt after passing 36 times for 293 yards (8.1 avg.), with the touchdowns and interceptions evening out 3-3. Thomas ended up with 159 rushing-receiving yards (9 for 77 rushing, 6 receptions for another 92 yards) and a touchdown. Riva actually saw more carries (11 for 96, three receptions for 26 yards and another 78 on returns).

The Gee-Gees were all sweet and no finish. Jordan Wilson-Ross ran very well (18 carries, 126 yards) and Brad Sinopoli also put up numbers (throwing 41 times for 355 yards and rushing 10 times for 89 yards, many of it on designed runs), but penalties and a lack of execution in the red zone were deal-breakers.

To be fair, a lot of that was Western being bend-but-don't-break on defence. Ottawa settled for field goal tries five times (making three).

Western's first touchdown came on a drive which was kept alive by an illegal-contact penalty that cancelled a second-down incompletion. Later on, with Western facing a first-and-20, cornerback Chayce Elliott was flagged for drilling a 'Stangs wideout on a pass that was well off the mark. Ottawa was a heavily penalized team last season and that needs to change, for its sake.

It was only a five-point game in the third quarter (21-16) when Faulds' understanding of the game apparently paid dividends. On a second-and-10, the quarterback was flushed out to his left and threw deep into tight coverage. Elliott intercepted and Ottawa took over at its own 11-yard line, meaning the pick had the effect of a punt. Ottawa went two-and-out (linebacker John Surla sacked Sinopoli on second down), conceded a safety and the Mustangs took advantage of a short field, needing to go only 46 yards for a backbreaking touchdown.

Nosetackle Erik Chibuluzo went out early in the game for Ottawa. It was not clear if he returned.


No. 1 Laval 51, No. 6 Concordia 0
— The former Baylor Bear, Fréderic Plesius, was a beast for a Rouge et Or defence which set up Benoît Groulx and Co. with a short field all afternoon. Plesius was pretty tough to block, making a sack and a couple of other plays in the Stingers backfield.

On the macro level, people might despair just a bit that Laval won by such a large margin in its first game and is unscored upon in eight quarters, counting the exhibition tilt vs. Western. That defence is loaded. Only one of Laval's nine scoring drives covered more than 50 yards, since they were starting at midfield or better almost every time.

Groulx passed 29 times for 237 yards and, while Jéremie Chrétien (four receptions, 78 yards) was the game's leading receiver. Laval might pitch another shutout next week vs. Bishop's.
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  1. Tim in London9/06/2009 10:11 pm


    Thanks for the Stangs update. Defence sounds like last year. As you said, "bend don't break." More Faulds interceptions, seems to be a recurring theme w/ him. Cheers.


  2. No worries, Tim. Off-hand, I'm replaying the interceptions in my head ... can't remember the first (I'm at work and didn't have my full attention on the game). The second, as noted in the post, was more like a punt. Faulds threw deep and figured the worst that could happen was Ottawa would be starting in the shadow of its goalposts. The third, though, he did force the ball in there. Riva also had a fumble in the fourth quarter when they were trying to play ball control. He hurdled a defender and got hit before he could plant his feet, and that was when the ball was jarred free by a tackler.

  3. Late in the third quarter several of the Stangs started to cramp up. Linebacker John Surla went down in the fourth quarter with what initially looked like a calf cramp but the trainers seemed to checking out his knee. That could be a pretty big hole if Surla is out for any period of time. Similarly, Jesse Bellamy was hobbled with what looked like a cramp, hopefully, later in the game. The SSN crew, from Ottawa, were a hoot to listen to. As the finality of the score became apparent in the fourth quarter their topics ranged from questions about Fauld's eligibility, to whether a guy named T'Shawn (referring to the Stangs 22-year old former-pro running back) is actually eligible to play university ball in Canada, to whether Marshall pays the refs with petty cash or if Western Administration takes care of it. Ya, gotta love their passion, as miss-placed as it may be.

  4. That Gee-Gee team drives me nuts.
    Specifically, unimaginative first down play calling by the coaches, ie, ALWAYS a hand off up the gut on first down.
    Ottawa is constantly facing second and long situations because of that, so naturally the opposing defense pins its ears back and blitzes the QB on obvious passing downs.
    Secondly, the stupid, undisciplined play on D, that leads to needless penalties at critical junctures of the game.
    For example, a Western scoring drive was sustained directly because a Gee-Gee DB needlessly pushed a Western receiver from behind on a pass that was uncatchable.
    For the most part, Ottawa dominated the first half of the game territorially but wound up trailing by 8 at the half because of mental mistakes.
    It's the same old same old with Ottawa.

  5. The Gee-Gees have a ton of potential, they really do. I honestly thought they could have beaten Western, but as the above commenter noted, the stupid flags and repetitive first down calls are killing them. Hopefully they can figure things out for a change this year.

  6. They shut out the #2 team in the country in an exhibition game.
    This week, Laval crushes the #6 team 51-0...
    May I make a suggestion?
    First, expel Laval immediately from the CIS on humanitarian grounds.
    Secondly, have the CFL immediately grant Laval a franchise to play in the East, meanwhile suspending the Argo franchise, again on humanitarian grounds.
    Although they have some ground to make up, I expect Laval to make the Eastern Final against the Als.....
    I'm only half joking, BTW.

  7. Agree with David that the Gee-Gees have a ton of potential. The problem is that they usually do in most seasons It is time they took that potential and actually did something with it.
    It seems that the coaching staff just can't raise them to the next level.