While it is still early in the season a number of teams made statements in this week’s set of games. Queen’s finally woke up, while Laurier appeared to stay asleep. The Gee-Gees showed they have the potential to hang with the teams at the top, while Windsor proved they are in fact for real this season in another nail-biting finish.
Some of the more interesting games however came from the perennial also-ran teams in the province. The game between York and Waterloo was the lone overtime contest in the CIS this week, and Toronto and Guelph played a tight competition throughout their game that wasn’t put away until the final minute.
It’s hard not to love the return of the football season.
#9 Ottawa 13
#2 Western 41
The marquee matchup in the OUA this weekend started out as a game up for grabs throughout the entire first half before the Mustangs found another level and put the game away down the stretch. Entering halftime with Western maintaining merely a 6-3 advantage, the GeeGees really proved their worth with some stellar defence in the opening quarters of this game.
Playing at home following a couple very decisive victories it was expected this game was Western’s for the taking, but Ottawa limited the Mustangs’ potent offence in the first half, holding them to under 100 yards rushing. The result would be determined by Donnie Marshall’s arm if Ottawa had their way, and while he put up some decent numbers on the day (18-37, 332 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INT ), he also threw for three interceptions after tossing just one over the first two weeks of the season.
While doing a great job containing Tyler Varga in the first half of the game the rookie back took control late, finishing with 145 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns. The presence of fourth year all star Nathan Riva, who appears to be lost in the Western backfield so far this season, helped Western open things up in the second half as he caught a 20 yard touchdown to put some distance between the two on the scoreboard.
The Mustangs would rush for 229 yards on the day, the heavy majority of which came in the second half once they wore down the Ottawa defence. This was another decline from the previous week and a testament to the efforts made by the Ottawa defensive unit.
Ottawa found some success through the air in the first half but after adjustments at the half quarterback Aaron Colbon (17-40, 183 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT) looked more like a young, inexperienced pivot heading up the offence. The Mustangs ultimately proved their depth is too great, and that they have the ability to wear out their competition. It will be a challenge for the rest of the OUA to keep up with the Mustangs this season.
The head scratcher of the week took place in Kingston. Queen’s broke out and broke out in a big way as they routed the visiting Hawks. The score makes this game seem more competitive than it actually was; the majority of the Hawks points came against the Gaels after the result was firmly in hand. By the time Laurier found the end zone with seven seconds remaining in the first half they were already down by 33 points. At the half the score was 33-7 for Queen’s, and they would add another 16 points before Laurier scored again.
Billy McPhee had a monster game as it appears teams have found a chink in Laurier’s defensive armour: their pass coverage. McPhee completed half of his passes for 362 yards, four touchdowns, while throwing three interceptions as well. Giovanni Aprile was the standout player on this day with four touchdowns (3 receiving, 1 return), tallying up 177 yards in catching for the Gaels.
Shane Kelly (30-55, 354 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INT) for Laurier did throw for three touchdowns, but once again after the result had been decided. The biggest news of the day has to be the fact Queen’s managed to hold the Hawks to -40 yards rushing. For a veteran team that entered the year with Yates Cup potential, the Golden Hawks have been left reeling the past few weeks. Next week will not get any easier as the Hawks host the conference-leading Mustangs at home.
It was not the prettiest outing, or the most exciting either, but it is a win that U of T will gladly take as they beat the Gryphons for the first time since 1995. Although Guelph jumped out to an early thanks to Mike Millar recovering a blocked punt in the endzone to open the scoring, the Blues' defence stepped up and helped Toronto take a led 14-7 into the half.
With less than a minute remaining in the game and the score 14-12, Toronto quarterback Andrew Gillis ran it in from 25 yards out to clinch the victory. Gillis threw for 173 yards on the day but really made an impact on the ground with two touchdowns off of 52 yards rushing on the day.
The Blues defence had a good outing in keeping the Gryphons off the scoreboard. Guelph put up rather pedestrian numbers the week after they trounced Waterloo by more than 40 points. Guelph’s ground game worked a little better than Chris Rosetti’s attempts through the air (13-28, 107 yards, 1 INT), however neither amounted to that much.
As both teams face their toughest competition ahead, claiming the win at home in front of a televised audience has to be a confidence boost for Toronto.
Waterloo 18 (OT)
One team sporting a 25 game losing streak, the other looking for their first win since returning from serving a one-year suspension. In a grudge match where one team would finally earn a W, they took more than 60 minutes to decide this one.
The Warriors jumped out to a 17-0 lead at the half thanks to scores by Dustin Zender (9 catches, 109 yards receiving, 1 TD) and a short run by Marco Visentin for a score. A field goal helped secure the 17 points. Unfortunately the Warriors lost their starting quarterback Evan Martin early in the third quarter. Martin, who had thrown for 229 yards at that point, was replaced by Luke Balch and York’s defence took advantage of the change.
While York intercepted Martin once they picked off Balch three times, to go along with a fumble recovery and six sacks on the day. The Lions owned the second half and completed the comeback with a short touchdown pass from quarterback Dimitar Sevdin to Skyler Hurst with under three minutes remaining in regulation.
In OT the Warriors missed a field goal attempt on their first possession and it went out of the side of the endzone for a rouge. On the Lions' possession Heneri Dervishi was able to connect on an 18 yard field goal for the York win.
The tough season continues for the Warriors but this game was more competitive than previous weeks. York, in the meantime, has finally gotten that monkey off their back and broken their multiple season losing streak.
#7 McMaster 21
#10 Windsor 19
Two unexpected starters took to the field for this Saturday night showdown in Windsor, young backup quarterbacks Marshall Ferguson representing MAC in the absence of Kyle Quinlan and Austin Kennedy suiting up in place of the injured Sam Malian for the Lancers. While Ferguson had big shoes to fill stepping in for a player expected to challenge for the Hec Crighton, Kennedy had already made himself known with an enormous effort against Laurier last week, for which he won the CIS offensive player of the week nomination (443 yards, five touchdowns in an unexpected victory).
Both put on a performance this week as well. Ferguson connected on 75 per cent of his passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Kennedy proved he was no slouch either connecting on more than half his attempts for 335 yards and three touchdowns as well, although he tossed three interceptions as well which halted Lancer drives. Third-year defensive back Michael Daly caught all three interceptions for MAC.
MAC however was unable to really capitalize on the opportunities, with neither team scoring until the second quarter, despite the Marauders forcing a couple Windsor turnovers early on.
MAC was able to build up a 14-6 lead however heading into the half and 21-6 in the third quarter thanks to the passing from Ferguson. Marauders receiver Michael DiCroce led all MAC receivers on the day with eight receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. DiCroce combined for 196 all-purpose yards on the day.
Windsor once again tried to play the spoiler late and made a strong run in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 unanswered points. With less than a minute remaining Kennedy found Jordan Brescacin for his second touchdown of the game to make it a two point contest. The Lancers went for the 2-point conversion to tie things up at 21 but MAC stopped the Lancers run attempt short, however not gone without a bit of controversy. The replay showed that the ball may have crossed the goal line, although the referees did not signal for the score.
The Lancers are turning into cardiac kids, a team that cannot be given up on because they will stage comebacks late in the game. Although Windsor fell they proved this week that they are contending this season in the OUA with yet another impressive showing under their belt.