- Hold on: Western's Nathan Riva and Laval's Sébastian Lévesque are still running. Someone tell them they can each come in for dinner.
- The average score of the four Canada West and QUFL semifinals was 50-13. That makes the argument for OUA apologists their league at least has some close games.
- Thank you, Calgary's Anthony Parker, for returning two kickoffs for touchdowns just a few days after some dim bulb put your name forward as an overlooked Hec Crighton Trophy candidate.
- Remember the scene in Major League where Jake Taylor tells Ricky 'Wild Thing' Vaughn, "This is the guy you've been waiting for your whole life?" when he comes into a ninth-inning pressure situation against the Yankees? It's kind of like that for No. 4 Queen's, hosting No. 5 Western in next Saturday's Yates Cup. It's the deepest the two teams have meet in the playoffs since the 1979 Central Bowl. Greg Marshall was playing then.
- People are picking at Sheahan père et fils: During the McMaster-Queen's telecast, The Score's Tim Micallef commented, "A rather short interview with Pat Sheahan there. Maybe that's thanks to his playoff struggles," after the Golden Gaels coach was circumspect during a pregame interview with sideline reporter Laura Diakin. In fairness, it was two minutes till kickoff and Diakin could have asked a better question than, "What are you going to do if the score is close?" Some dot-orgers wondered if Queen's receiver Devan Sheahan used the F-word during a post-game interview (although it's one thing to let it slip and one to yell it into the camera). It's out there.
- McMaster ultimately finished 7-3 and loses nary an important contributor. That's a potential OUA favourite next season. Wideout Mike DiCroce will be The Man next season.
No. 10 St. Francis Xavier 33, Acadia 30 — Just like they did back in 2003, the X-Men staged a huge fourth-quarter rally to snatch a playoff win away from the Axemen, scoring 17 points in the final eight minutes.
How dead was X? With nine minutes left, Acadia was six yards away from a touchdown which would have put it up by 18 points. St. FX held, and after the field goal Steve Snyder took them on 75- and 67-yard scoring drives to tie the game.
Also remarkably, there was only 1:57 on the clock when St. FX tied the game, but it had time to get the ball back. A 28-yard Mike Metulynsky punt return, got the ball in position for Anthony Alix to kick the winning field goal.
No. 5 Western 26, Laurier 16 — The main question for next week is whether Western can do to Queen's what it did to Laurier, running Riva play after play (its distribution was 45 rushes, 29 pass plays).
Riva, who set an OUA playoff record with those 42 rushes, for a career-high 279 yards and both Mustangs TDs, had about a 100-yard day in that game three weeks ago, which Queen's won 27-26. Western was a little more creative with how it used him that day, including a couple well-designed screens which might be difficult for sore-kneed QB Michael Faulds to execute.
That being said, ball control tends to win in the playoffs and Western's receivers seem to keep their focus even when pass-catching opportunities are at a premium. Faulds' security blanket/Guelph homeboy Jesse Bellamy has become their wedding China — only for a special occasions.
The 10-point margin was a misnomer; it wasn't as close as the score indicated. Western wore down the Golden Hawks' defence to a fine nub. Only a great strip by Laurier safety Courtney Stephen and a few failed third-down conversions really kept Laurier in the hunt. Western's backs rushed 45 times for 320 yards, all told, without Da'Shawn Thomas (turf toe) even getting one carry.
Western's defensive coaches, whose unit held Laurier to 252 yards (OUA rushing leader Mike Montoya, with nine rushes for 42 yards, was a non-factor), rate a lot of credit. Their rebuilt defence played well — particularly the second-year end, Alex Robinson, and the inside linebacker John Surla — and confused the Golden Hawks Evan Pawliuk (32 pass attempts for 156 yards, a 4.9 average). Pawliuk had a few passes where he lobbed the ball out nowhere near a receiver.
Faulds, as noted seven days ago, is sacrificing his left knee to try to get the Yates Cup three-peat for Western. He had a limp-off in the first half and came back on the next series. Western didn't ask him to do a ton, but their running game was that good.
No. 4 Queen's 32, McMaster 6 — A stiff Kingston wind and Queen's defensive line led by bookends Osie Ukwuoma and Shomari Williams took care of the young Marauders.
Neither offence did much, except when it was set up by a turnover (and even then). A Matt Vickers interception and a blown punt snap set up Queen's two first-half TDs, while the Marauders were forced to concede four safeties rather than punt into the wind coming off
How about that Queen's defence? Mac coach Stefan Ptaszek told the Kingston Whig-Standard, "Other teams in our conference to shut down our run game blitz and take chances. Queen's is able to slow our run game down just sitting there and playing their base stuff. They're not getting out of position to do what they need to do." It got pressure with four rushers more often than not, which should not be so easily accomplished vs. Faulds.
No. 2 Calgary 45, Alberta 13 — The Dinos scored almost half-a-hundred without Erik Glavic putting up big passing stats. It was just Matt Walter, Matt Walter, Matt Walter (17 rushes, 163 yards).
Parker's second return TD came on an onside kickoff. Calgary's defence was damn good, with Steven Truzak making three interceptions.
No. 3 Saskatchewan 53, Regina 23 — Tell you what, the Huskies come across pretty favourably when their QB, Laurence Nixon, doesn't pass for five TDs (three to Cory Jones). Saskatchewan ended up with 400 yards passing in the easy win.
The Huskies offence — remember how much it sputtered the first three, four weeks before Jeff Hassler (nine rushes for 113 yards) returned from injury and got up to speed? It's almost like someone realized a just-OK offence might not be enough with the kind of numbers Calgary is capable of producing.
No. 8 Montréal 40, Bishop's 15 — The Gaiters' mojo was good for a half, but the Carabins' Rotrand Sené (236 rushing) and a rejuvenated M.-O. Brouillette (363 passing) were too much to overcome.
The $64,000 question is whether Montréal can gave Laval a game next week. It's so hard to know for sure. Allez Les Bleus, a little help, s'il vous plait?
The Gaiters deserve a slow clap for managing a decent season vs. a difficult schedule in the first year after Jamall Lee. They got into the Q playoffs despite being outgained almost every week, including 639-191 in this game. A team that gets outgained that bad should lose every time, but their D came up with five takeaways. They apparently never stopped hitting, even when outmanned.
No. 1 Laval 63, Concordia 1 — There's really not much to say, eh? The Carabins made Laval mad and the Stingers made. It was a massacre.