There is nothing like the fine October weather in Ontario to ruin what could have been a pretty good weekend of football. I suppose it wasn’t all bad if you like watching terrible passing, a large dose of running and some solid defence.
At least we can look at the Lancers if we want a little bit of excitement. I never thought I’d say that either.
#5 McMaster 25
Unfortunately for viewers across the country, The Score got it wrong this week. What should have been a relentless aerial battle between the leading passer in the CIS and arguably the best quarterback in the country turned out to be a wind-blown defensive struggle with lots of (short) kicking for the majority of the game.
Mac’s Kyle Quinlan still looked pretty sharp after his three-game break completing 14 of 26 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 36 yards. For him, those numbers are rather pedestrian, but considering the wind and rain, he definitely earned player of the game honours. He pretty much took the game over in the second half, turning a 9-6 lead into a 25-6 win.
Rookie Christopher Pezzetta led the Marauders on the ground with 79 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown while Michael DiCroce had 5 receptions for 89 yards and a major.
Laurier, on the other hand, just couldn’t do much of anything with the ball. That happens when you only have it for 22 minutes. They managed to put up a respectable 125 yards on the ground, but Shane Kelly could only complete 15 of 34 passes for just 151 yards and two picks. They managed to connect on two Ronald Pfeffer field goals in the first quarter and never really threatened after that.
Both of these teams have important games next week as McMaster looks to secure second place against the Ottawa Gee-Gees at home while Laurier will be fighting for their playoff lives in Guelph.
#1 Western 21
That wasn’t exactly impressive for Western in their first game as the top-ranked team in over a decade. In fact, they may not hold onto that ranking much longer with Calgary and Laval coming up with impressive victories this weekend. They even trailed 9-7 at half-time. In truth, they have struggled a bit in their last three games against York, Guelph and Toronto. That’s not a great sign going into the playoffs.
On the plus side, Nathan Riva. The fourth-year running back got the majority of the carries this week and made good use of them, rushing 34 times for 218 yards and a touchdown. Rookie sensation Tyler Varga had 31 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with an injury.
Ben Rossong was up and down once again at the quarterback position completing 7 of 12 for 60 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Again, we can probably chalk that up to him getting used to the CIS game and the brutal weather. But he needs to be better with the playoffs looming.
As a side note, what happened to Mustangs kicker Lirim Hajrullahu? He had a fantastic season last year when he was handed the kicking duties, winning the Yates Cup on a last second field goal. This year, he is 11 for 20, missing another field goal in this game.
Toronto’s Andrew Gillis completed 16 of 36 passes for 260 yards and two picks. He wasn’t helped by the fact that the Blues could only muster 69 yards on the ground all game. The 12 penalties for 108 yards also didn’t help Toronto’s cause.
Former Florida Gator defensive back Dorian Munroe showed why Toronto was excited to have him on the team as he contributed six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
Next week Western travels to Richardson Stadium to take on the Gaels in a meaningless game for the Mustangs (at least in terms of the standings). Toronto will be fighting to get into the playoffs next week, so it is a good thing they get to host Waterloo.
I think Ryan Granberg is trying to make a push for the OUA player of the year. With 240 rushing yards on 31 carries, he actually overtook Varga for the OUA lead in rushing. He also managed to score four times, bringing his total up to 8 on the season. Only seven behind Varga, but he has been impressive nonetheless.
Giovanni Aprile has also been superb all season and continued it against the Warriors. He has three receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown and took a kickoff return 109 yards to the house. The man is hard to stop and has been ever since he enrolled at Queen’s.
Billy McPhee did what was needed at the quarterback position, completing 8 of 14 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. With a running game like that, he really just needs to avoid turning the ball over.
It’ll be interesting to see Granberg go up against a formidable Mustang defensive line next week. At least, for as long as Western keeps in their starters.
As for Waterloo, the less said the better. The team rushed for 15 yards and QB Brian Chris completed less than half of his passes for 82 yards and three picks. Receiver Dustin Zender has been one of the lone bright spots, catching six passes for 41 yards.
Waterloo will travel to Toronto next week looking for a little pride. Queen’s will host Western next week, looking to finish third in the OUA. We might actually have a game where the two teams will combine for less than 30 passes and about 700 yards rushing.
Since they demoted Chris Rossetti and started Jazz Lindsey, the Gryphons have looked pretty solid on offence. Granted, it’s not that hard to look good against York.
Lindsey did only complete 13 of 26 passes but he accumulated 207 yards through the air with three TD’s and one interception. In fairness to Rossetti, he went 7 of 9 for 99 yards and two touchdowns with the game already decided.
Lindsey’s two favourite targets on the day were star receiver Jedd Gardner, who caught 8 balls for 127 yards and a TD, and older brother Saxon, who had two touchdowns.
Guelph’s defence also had a good day, effectively shutting out the Lions, who only mustered a safety. A fun statistic: Guelph had a total of 12 tackles for a loss. That works out to a little under a quarter of York’s offensive plays losing yards.
That’s probably why Lions QB Nick Coutu could only complete 5 of 18 for 42 yards and a pick. Running back Riser Markell had 19 carries for 70 yards and a reception for 9 yards. In other words, he was 55% of York’s offence.
The Lions are out of the playoff picture so they will be playing for pride and starting spots for next year against Windsor at home. Guelph will be battling Laurier at home, while hoping Toronto somehow loses, in an effort to sneak into the playoffs.
#10 Ottawa 32
The last time I did the recaps, the only truly exciting game ended with the Lancers scoring a game-winning rouge to upset Laurier.
This time, the Lancers managed to earn a one-point lead a little too early (they failed to convert on their 2-point conversion), allowing Ottawa’s Matthew Falvo to kick an 11-yard field goal with no time on the clock for a two-point win in an incredibly back-and-forth game.
Windsor jumped all over Ottawa early on with a fumble return touchdown and an Austin Kennedy one-yard run to go up 14-0. Kennedy completed 17 of 27 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns with adding 22 on the ground.
His favourite targets were Evan Pszczonak who had 130 yards and two second-half touchdowns and Cory Fernandes who caught 8 balls for 91 yards.
However, superb games from Gee-Gees QB Aaron Colbon and running back Brendon Gillanders allowed Ottawa to come back and take a 20-17 half-time lead.
Colbon completed 21 of 34 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns, while Gillanders rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown, and caught 6 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
The teams traded scores until Falvo’s game-winning kick settled the score.
Fortunately for Windsor, they have a playoff berth locked up. And with losses to Ottawa and Queen’s (the teams one game ahead of them) and a win against Laurier (the team one game behind), they will get to take it easy against York (which will still probably result in a win for them) knowing that they will finish 5th.
Ottawa, on the other hand, has a date with McMaster in Hamilton. A win gets them second place in the OUA and a first round bye, while a loss could mean another home date with Windsor in the first round of the playoffs in two weeks. You know, just in case they needed any extra motivation to beat McMaster.