Football: Giving thanks for OUA football ... for some teams, anyway

The Thanksgiving weekend meant football action spread from Thursday to Saturday night in the OUA. There were a couple games with impacts on the playoff picture, and some noteworthy debuts and returns.

McMaster 50, Toronto 14

Under normal circumstances this game would just be another top team playing a bottom-dwelling Blues team, but this week marked the return of Kyle Quinlan from his three-game suspension. And the all-star pivot made up for lost time by passing 23-for-32 for 455 yards and 5 touchdowns before taking a back seat to Marshall Ferguson.

With the impressive outing, Quinlan moved up the list on a couple all-time Marauder passing records. He has now recorded 36 passing touchdowns, which puts him in a tie with McMaster offensive coordinator Jon Behie's career total. He moved into fourth in passing yards with a total of 4561 yards, and fifth in career completions with 282.

Brad Fochesato lead the receiving core with 4 receptions for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Michael DiCroce caught 7 balls for a respectable 155 yards and a touchdown himself. Sure, Quinlan may have stayed in longer than he normally would have in a game of this nature, but he had to get readjusted to game play.

To Toronto’s credit however, they did put up a fight: the score was 17-14 halfway through the second quarter, thanks to a couple touchdown passes from Andrew Gillis. The Blues quarterback finished with a decent outing, going 18-for-32 for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns, but tossing 3 interceptions as well.

A three score third quarter allowed the Marauders to pull away though, earning MAC (6-1) the win and Quinlan likely some of his confidence back following this week. Toronto (2-4) remains a team on the cusp of making a playoff run, but it seems that may have to wait another season.

Western 33, Guelph 29

Injuries were felt this week as Guelph dared the conference-leading Mustangs to beat them through the air with a fresh-faced quarterback who had not seen much game time. And the Gryphons nearly pulled it off.

Western built up a 13 point lead in the third quarter that fell apart in the fourth, with Guelph taking a 29-24 lead halfway through the quarter. Western responded quickly however connecting with Brian Marshall for a 73-yard score to take the lead, and adding a late field goal.

The game was in doubt right to the end, when Mike Spence picked off rookie Guelph quarterback Jazz Lindsey in the end zone to seal the win for Western.

Ben Rossong filled in for Marshall and in his first career CIS start he was hit-and-miss. He did throw a clean game though, going 15-for-29 for 258 yards for 2 touchdowns and no interceptions.

But the Gryphons keyed on the ground game and limited Western to their lowest rushing input this season. Tyler Varga rushed for 109 yards on 26 carries, punching in a 2 yard touchdown run. The rest of the team however were limited, with Rossong’s 54 yards of scrambling the next highest output.

Lindsey, starting his second game in a row for Guelph showed improvement, going 24-for-38 for 330 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Jedd Gardner caught 5 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.

With the narrow victory the Mustangs remain undefeated (6-0), while Guelph dropped to 1-5.

Queen’s 27, Windsor 14

In what was a statement game for both teams, with plenty of playoff implications as well, the Gaels proved to be the better team on the night by relying on the run.

Following a low scoring contest against the Blues, the Gaels earned a hard fought win in a back-and-forth contest until very late. They added some distance for the win with two late rushing scores from Ryan Granberg, who was clearly the story this week by rushing for 265 yards on 31 attempts.

Both defences wreaked havoc on two young quarterbacks who have proven to be prolific passers this season. Windsor’s Austin Kennedy went 26-for-44 for 308 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception while Billy McPhee threw 17-for-31 for 250 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions for Queen’s.

The 320 yards on the ground by the Gaels however was the deciding factor. Noteworthy mention also goes out to Sean Plumley of Queen’s who recorded 7.5 tackles in his first career CIS game.

Both teams now stand tied at 4-2 on the season, both are vying for the third ranking in conference and for home field advantage for the quarterfinals (where they may actually meet).

Laurier 69, Waterloo 3

It was fantastic to see the Battle of Waterloo return. The game, however, was what you would expect when playing a team that did not see the field a year before. It was 21-0 after the first, 31-3 at the half and the final score did not get much better.

The positives to draw from this game for the Hawks centre on their ground attack, which has been noticeably absent this year. They had two players rush for more than 100 yards, the second and third time this year a Laurier player met that mark…I really wasn’t joking about that missing ground game. Rashard LaTouche rushed for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries, while Tyrrel Wilson racked up 101 yards and 1 touchdown on 10 carries.

It should be mentioned that Ashton Rochester, in his first career CIS game, ran for 78 yards on 5 carries as well for Laurier, who moves to 3-3 on the season.

On the other sidelines it was the Luke Balch show, throwing for 148 yards and 1 interception, while rushing for 98 yards. Dustin Zender caught for 97 yards on 10 catches, but was kept off the scoresheet. Beyond that, it was a long night for the winless Warriors (0-6).

The other noteworthy parts of this game were the records established by a few Laurier players: Dillion Heap became just the third player in CIS history to break the 2,000 yard punt return mark following his three returns for 74 yards. Heap now has 2,020 yards for his career. Mitchell Bosch moved into second all-time for tackles with the Golden Hawks, reaching 159.5 career tackles following the 9.5 he racked up this week. And rookie kicker Ronnie Pfeffer tied a Laurier record for most kickoffs in one game with 11.

Ottawa 65, York 12

The Gee-Gees won convincingly this week, putting up 28 points before York’s first points on the scoreboard, and 49 points before York's touchdown. Ottawa split the quarterback duties between Aaron Colbon (13-for-21, 280 yards, 3 TD’s, 2 INTs) and Derek Wendell (5-for-10, 133 yards, 1 TD). Simon Le Marquand caught 7 passes for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Bogdan Raic caught 6 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown.

Franck Ngandui rushed for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns for Ottawa.

York’s quarterback Dimitar Sevdin went 12-for-31 for 170 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. A positive for the Lions came when rookie Jordan Nugent recorded 2 interceptions, tallying 3 interceptions total for the season.

York falls to 1-5 on the season, while Ottawa (4-2) now control their playoff destiny with Windsor and McMaster up next.
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