Football on Friday (and Thursday): Regina's Ram-tough D, Guelph can't get a Gryp on slippery Sinopoli

Ruminations on two nights of football leading into Thanksgiving weekend:
  • It is too early to start talking about tiebreakers in the OUA, but Ottawa and McMaster (both 4-2) do not play each other. Ottawa having games left vs. York and Windsor means McMaster's three-point edge in point differential (+80 to the Gee-Gees' +77) likely will not last.

  • Apparently snow in October brings the Saskatchewan Huskies out of hibernation. Getting Scott McHenry back helped them roll up 477 yards (269 rushing) in a 44-7 win over UBC, which might playing out the string.

  • Regina's defence was the difference in a last-minute 26-24 win over Simon Fraser with a blocked punt, interception and two long fumble returns, the latter of which accounted for their only second-half scoring prior to Perri Scarcelli's 36-yard game-winning field goal.

  • Simon Fraser (2-4) needs to find a league where holding the opposing team below 275 yards two weeks in a row might mean winning at least one games.

  • Ottawa scoring 50 points and 714 yards on No. 9 Guelph counts as a FU game. Some felt the Gee-Gees were snubbed in Top 10 voting. McMaster got the 10th spot, but any SoUA school would suffice.

  • Any and all arguments Brad Sinopoli is a more dangerous dual threat QB than Guelph's Justin Dunk should be entertained. Guelph's defence did not put up any fight, but Sinopoli's 53-yard against-the-grain touchdown run Sinopoli in the first quarter of Ottawa's 50-26 win is up there with any of Dunk's greatest hits.

  • No.9-not-for-long Guelph has given up exactly 1,300 yards in two visits to Eastern Ontario this season. It's small wonder their recruiters were at a high school showcase in Ottawa on the day before the game.

  • No. 6 St. FX is 5-0 after a 21-10 win at Acadia, but someone should put out an APB for its ground game. Forty rushing yards against a 1-4 team?

Notes and shallow, fairly obvious observations are below the jump.

Ottawa 50, No. 9 Guelph 26 — One sum-it-up is that Brad Sinopoli almost rushed for more yards (107) than his counterpart Justin Dunk had passing (118).

Sinopoli passed 33 times for 342 yards, near-identical numbers to what he put up at Laurier on Oct. 3. Cyril Adjeitey (10 receptions, 191 yards, three TDs) was just impossible for Guelph to cover 1-on-1.

Since Ottawa had 714 yards offence, no one is going to talk about its defence, but coordinator Mike White's group did a number on Dunk. Their linebacking group, players such as Mike Cornell and Trevor Seal, along with the outside rushers such as B'Jay Willan and Youcef Lekadir, did a great job tracking Dunk. Time and again, Dunk would be itching to run out of the pocket, no one open, and end up having to throw into coverage.

Ottawa, in less than optimum conditions (rainy and windy), scored 41 points in the first 2½ quarters. Guelph just had little rush on Sinopoli and when it did get one, he would be off and running. The 53-yarder mentioned up top was a designed run. Sinopoli faked to Jordan Wilson-Ross going off left tackle, rolled in that direction, cut across the field and was running free.

Ottawa (4-2) controls its own destiny. Apparently they proved they can win at home, too, eh, Guelph Mercury sports editor Rob Massey?

The Gryphons (3-3) still have Laurier (at home) and McMaster (on the road). Each of those teams still has to face Windsor. Guelph's still on par with those teams. Finishing sixth would likely also mean a return to Ottawa for the playoffs.

No. 7 Saskatchewan 44, UBC 7 — One sequence in the first half illustrated what d-back Bryce McCall means to the Green Dogs. Saskatchewan's second TD was set up by McCall making a tackle inside the 10 on special teams (Grant Shaw netted 45 yards on the punt) and then making an interception to give the Huskies offence a short field.

Huskies Football Outsider should have a lot to say about the game. This result might have been about 50% Saskatchewan being good, 25% the nasty weather and 25% UBC being a rather callow team.

No. 6 St. Francis Xavier 21, Acadia 10 — X defensive back Reilly Penner better have Acadia QB Keith Lockwood on his Christmas-card list, since he's burned him for a pick-six twice in two weeks. X's defence, with David Skillen and Nathaniel Annan each making two sacks, was very, very good.

Henoc Muamba, one of X's best defenders, did not have a tackle. That's odd.

A post-game talking point might be how the one element of X's game from the past two seasons, the rushing attack, remains in absentia. James Green was held to less than two yards per carry, with young linebacker Jake Thomas (8½ tackles) turning a nice effort for the Axemen.

Canada West

Regina 26, Simon Fraser 24
— It would figure the only game not involving a ranked team would be the best one, eh? Marc Mueller moved the Rams 54 yards in the final minutes, with Jordan Sisco making two big catches, to set up Perri Scarcelli's 38-yard FG with 44 seconds left.

Simon Fraser had a nearly 180-yard edge in total offence, but giving up a blocked punt and interception to Rams linebacker Bruce Anderson and later fumbling on back-to-back possessions cost the Clan the game. Regina, which trailed 17-1 at one point, won with only 269 yards' offence.

Mike Kerr had a 43-yard scoop-and-score which put Regina ahead for the first time, while Steve Famulak returned one 35 yards to set up a field goal. The conditions (minus-4C at game time) probably were a factor, but it's cold for both teams.

It is understood Simon Fraser tries to run a balanced attack. Gabe Ephard (12 rushes, 128 yards) was again their most effective runner, but didn't get that many touches.

Thursday games

No. 5 Western 64, York 6
— It's pretty self-explanatory. One big takeaway was the Mustangs didn't roll up big rushing stats.

Nathan Riva got his 13th touchdown on the season, but was held to 16 rushing yards. Most of Da'Shawn Thomas' 75 yards came after the issue was decided.

No. 10 McMaster 21, U of T 3 — Nice work by Marauders coach Stefan Ptaszek to note "this one could have used some lipstick" and remind us all how much better we are without Sarah Palin tainting our collective unconsciousness.

Those who don't believe Mac merits a national ranking certainly got some ammo. U of T played them tough for the second season in a row (it was 27-19 last season) but were held without a TD for the third time this fall. Drew Meerveld's 11-reception, 153-yard night gives him an OUA-best 39 catches.
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  1. The Ottawa-Guelph match was a disappointment for a number of reasons.
    First, a pitiful crowd of just over 1,200 turned out for the game. In the cavernous north side stand of Frank Clair Stadium, it looked like 200.
    Secondly, the Brad Sinopoli-Justin Dunk dual turned out to be no contest, although not entirely Dunk's fault.
    While Sinopoli enjoyed decent pass protection from his O line, Dunk spent much of this dreary night running for his life, as his own pass protection broke down constantly.
    As a result, Dunk posted season lows for passing yardage and point production.
    Dunk passed for a mere 115 yards, 2 TD's and 17 points.
    Sinopoli, on the other hand, did pretty much what he damn well pleased against the practically useless Gryphon defense.
    And, as if to cap off his miserable night, Dunk the Punk was pulled after taking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against a Gee-Gee defender.
    Guelph will not only lose its top 10 ranking because of this whoopin', there is a strong possibility it could close out the season at 3-5.
    Next up is Laurier, a team that certainly gave Ottawa a better fight than what the Gryphons put up Friday.
    After that it's McMaster in Ron Joyce Stadium.
    If MAC could hammer Western's D right in London, God knows what it can do to Guelph's hapless unit at home.

  2. Did anyone who voted for Guelph in the Top 10 actually watch this defense play? Simply terrible: undersized, unathletic and generally clueless.

    At 3-3, Guelph is a typical case of a very average OUA team getting its numbers against three of the worst teams in the country.

  3. They might be a very average team and they got exposed a bit last night, certainly.

    The first 8 spots in the Top 10 stay intact, but you could easily put Ottawa in Guelph's spot.

    Now, Dunk did threw for 447 vs. Queen's (in a Week 1 game) and had about 450 passing and rushing vs. Western (at home), so he has put up numbers vs. good teams, too. Ottawa was the first team to shut him down. They prepared well and will finish 6-2.

    The only way 6-2 doesn't get Ottawa third is if Western and Queen's are 7-1 and Mac finishes 6-2 with a better point differential, since the Gee-Gees do not play the Marauders. Ottawa has York and Windsor left, so they'll have to run up the score next week just to make sure, unfortunately for the Lions.

  4. I saw post-game video of MAC - U of T, then compared that to the biggest upset in CIS football this season.

    First, I do not understand the play calling of the MAC O. It was very stagnant and questionable throughout all four quarters. I mean, why would you call a QB keeper with less than 2 minutes in the 4rth quarter. The MAC coaching staff may argue that Quinlan noticed an opening, but this was clearly a designed play.

    Second, and on a positive, the MAC D is a strong unit. Save for the exposing down field tosses against Laurier and the failed Western Rally, MAC is a sound defensive unit on the whole.

    Overall, I am disappointed by the MAC-UT outcome due to the acknowledgement given to them in the national rankings this past week. I was very surprised how much of a battle there was on the lines, considering the MAC size advantage. If this were a road score for MAC, I would be ok with this outcome. But this is at their $10 million NEW HOME. With playoffs around the corner, comfort in your surroundings should be the extra man needed.

    Expect a Laurier @ MAC quarters. Will be interesting for sure, as I will venture to say that this will be Coach P's final test and if he remains AD's Giles guy.

    Happy Turkey Day.

  5. I like the Mac result because it makes me look like I know what I'm doing sometimes. (Layson, you're right: Mac by only 16 was way off...)

  6. i believe the tiebreaker if mac and ottawa would come down to records against common opponenets. anyone know how that would work out? also, nothing wrong with a 21-3 win over an improving toronto team. a win is a win, especially after a 4 day rest, and the a lull in the schedule before the final guelph game. A bit of a letdown was to be expected after the Western win, and also going into a nice few day break for Thxgiving. They may have scored 21 where others scored more, but is it that much different than the 35-15 final against ottawa? about a 20 point difference both ways. instead of people dismissing mac for only scoring 21, why dont people dismiss ottawa for allowing 15 against u of t?

  7. Good point on the margin of victory. It might be argued Toronto's TDs vs. Ottawa were on a Hail Mary on the final play of the first half and in late-game garbage time. They didn't get one off the first-string Ottawa defence.

  8. the didnt get one on mac's either haha...either way, theres no way mac can be disregarded because they didnt put up 50 on thursday night. at the end of the day, a W is a W, they beat western, lost to queens by 1, and was hanging with laurier until a disallowed TD, which shoudlnt have been disallowed, swung the momentum the other way and mac lay an egg in trying to recover it. should be a great final few weeks in the OUA!

  9. It's a shame the Ottawa Guelph game didn't start Saturday at 1 PM, like most Gee Gee home games.
    Friday night the weather was dreary, the crowd small and pretty quiet and the game itself failed to live up to the billing.
    Saturday afternoon finds Ottawa bathed in glorious sunshine...too bad there's no game at the old ball yard.
    Why that game was scheduled for that time is beyond me.

  10. Who are we to ever question a decision signed off on by Luc Gélineau?

  11. At Anon 3:38... you asked, "i believe the tiebreaker if mac and ottawa would come down to records against common opponenets. anyone know how that would work out?"

    It is a 10-team league, so the two teams which did not play would have played the other eight teams. So point differential would be used, I think.

  12. I don't know why the Gee-Gee game was played on Friday night, except maybe to give the athletes more time off to go home on the weekend for TG.

    However, I have no confidence that having the game on Saturday afternoon would have made much difference.

    Ottawa draws poorly at the best of times. Most OUA schools see a drop in game attendance over TG weekend, including Ottawa. I have been to games on the Saturday of TG in previous years and the attendance was no better than it was last friday night. Queen's usually draws well at home , yet I was once at a Saturday TG game at Queen's and the announced attendance dropped to less than 1000.

    The drop off during TG weekend is almost entirely due to the lack of students attending.
    That was true at Frank Clair this past Friday. A look around the place revealed a pretty old crowd. Older crowds also tend to be quieter than the more boisterous students. That was true on Friday and does not mean that the oldsters were not enjoying the game. They were but are quieter about it than young students usually are.

  13. I actually miss Sarah Palin. Hottest +40yr old women in the world.

  14. You must have Sarah Palin confused with Tina Fey imitating Sarah Palin. I guess May 18, 2010 cannot arrive fast enough, then!

  15. Why ? Is Tina Fey going to appear on the cover and inside Playboy on that date, replacing the very hot Marg Simpson?

  16. May 18, 2010 is Tina Fey's 40th birthday ... the link was to her IMDB page.

    No joke is too obscure it cannot find an audience. Someone in the writers' room on 30 Rock would have got it, I swear!

  17. I was also at the Ottawa game on Friday night and found the crowd rather smaller and quieter than usual. However, that being said, I remember 3 years ago attending a game at Ottawa and the announced attendance was just a little over 600. Considering this fact, I think things are looking up at uOttawa in terms of fan-base even if not in anything else.

  18. Can I point out that Mac having only lost to Queen's by a point is a moot point, since Queen's went from the best passer in OUA history to true, 18 year old freshman getting his first action midway through the first quarter. The only notable thing to take from that game is McMaster's inability to get anything going against the queen's defense

  19. Yep, we've said it a few times ...