OUA Football, Week 4: The Good, the Behemoth and the GTA Teams

We can't blog games like we used, but what we can do is tell long stories that don't go anywhere ... each week, we're keeping a digest on OUA football.

Waterloo should know what its ceiling is, since they haven't come down from it since shortly before 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

Or maybe they have, since they have that Expect To Win, We Deserve This vibe. It would truly be a study in moppishness to try to do justice to the catharsis Waterloo exorcised when it defeated Laurier, 34-32, for its win against their neighbours in 16 seasons — or 5,857 days if you really want to hyperbolize with high numbers. It also would probably be a party foul to wonder how they go from that dizzying high to facing Western next week in what's now a first-place battle. On the first count, Adam McGuire's chronicle of the cross-town rivalry conquest does the job so very well, so just pop open a new tab.

Tre Ford, who's now averaging 12 yards per pass and 9.9 per rush — Kyle Quinlan crossed with Brad Sinopoli numbers from a second-year quarterback — emptied the thesaurus of all its superlatives, and one can only wish that the 88-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Tyler Ternowski would get some love on broadcast television. There's a pretty impressive talent operating Waterloo's offence.

So what now? Western might be a too-much too-soon deal but Waterloo should be favoured in its other three games. A 6-2 finish is in the offing, with a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage against Laurier (2-1), who could really cause some forelock-tugging in the OUA office by winning at Carleton on Thanksgiving weekend to create a three-way tie for second.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Waterloo is in the driver's seat for the playoffs and that's a microcosm of how the meaty party of the curve has been a joy to follow. Three of Saturday's five games were one-score affrays, with the Warriors hanging on to outlast Laurier after the late, long go-ahead TD, while Carleton reprised its eerie mastery of double-overtime games against teams from the 613 and Guelph was not just good, but good enough to win at Windsor.

Then there was the bad and the ugly, with the GTA's teams losing 113-6. Maybe Doug Ford can use the notwithstanding clause to reduce the travel roster for all teams visiting York and Toronto the rest of the season from 47 to 25 players.

Waterloo 34, No. 4 Laurier 32 — Let's not overlook the fact Laurier had two weeks to prepare thanks to being on its bye and Waterloo still put up 605 yards. An unsung hero of Waterloo's biggest win until the one that clinches a playoff berth should be Michael Reid, whose sack ended a Laurier drive and forced the punt one play before Ternowski got the DeLorean up to 88.

My Laurier post-mortem comes back to a small irony. Waterloo kept the ball for basically the last 7½ minutes of the third quarter, a 15-play, 92-yard hike in the sweltering heat. Typically, having the ball that long and kicking a field goal from inside the 10 and still being two scores down (29-20) should have been cause for apoplexy among the analytics set. But, with the caveat that correlation does not imply causation, that took a toll. Waterloo scored touchdowns on its next two possessions. It's a small irony that a game with 1,150-some yards of offence, including four bills aerially from both Ford and Laurier's Tristan Arndt, might have been decided by some clock-chewing.

Waterloo took the short field goal after two third-and-sizable conversions. Who moved the sticks on the first one? It must be mentioned that it was Mitch Kernick, who had a gutting drop against Carleton on Sept. 8.

Carleton 42, Queen's 39, overtime — Be it resolved that Ottawa Redblacks super-rookie Lewis Ward is loaned out to all of Carleton's opponents for field goal kicking for the rest of the season. Snark aside, full credit to the Ravens for solid situational football and clearing the way for Nathan Carter to go for 179 rushing/receiving yards ... but what are the odds of winning three-point games two weeks in a row while the opponents' kickers are a combined 1-for-5 on field goals? Well, luck is the residue of design.

This week, Queen's set Nick Liberatore up for two game-winning kicks, one from 38 at the end of the fourth quarter and one in the first overtime after the Ravens were blanked on their inning. Neither proved true. Sure enough, Liberatore got a 42-yarder that wasn't for the win, and Carleton needed just two plays to score the winning TD.

Does this mean Carleton is 2012 Guelph, winning week after week when a balance of probabilities says it should break the other way? Make of it what you will. Oddly enough, that 2012 Guelph team had a 42-39 overtime win against Queen's — in the playoffs, no less — that also involved scoring a TD after Queen's kicker made a relatively tough field goal.

In the present, the challenge for Carleton will be that, once it inevitably pulls a Panda Game win out of parts better left unsaid in two weeks' time, it has a short week before a turkey bowl against Laurier.

Queen's (2-2) remains inscrutable.The plus side is that Nate Hobbs, who had to be his own ground game due in part to playing catch-up, tallied 36 points and 433 yards in front of a loud away crowd, the same environment where Western put up lesser numbers three weeks ago. That's something, even if one suspects the 'Stangs were sandbagging a bit just to manufacture a crisis. The Gaels should have the offensive capacity to win at least one of the road games at Guelph and McMaster that are sandwiched around the exercise in self-flagellation that is welcoming Western to Richardson Stadium at the end of this month. But the reality is that a team with a secondary as callow as the Gaels' is about as trusty as a MLB team with a sketchy bullpen in October (calling it now: the Red Sox don't win the World Series).

How they get to 5-3 seems daunting. The Gaels' other home game is against Ottawa on the final weekend. The throw-out-the-record clichΓ© might be expanded upon here — throw out who's coaching, who's quarterbacking, where they're playing, what conference they're in, but Ottawa has often been a stumbling block for the Gaels. The Gee-Gees have won the last four matchups.

Guelph 26, Windsor 20 — Just as Nancy Drew said all you need to solve a mystery is an inquisitive temperament and two friends, all you need to win at Windsor is an imposing senior linebacker and two explosion plays on offence. Luke Korol furnished the former with 14 tackles and two sacks, the second of which ended the final drive of the game after Lancers rookie quarterback Colby Henkel had driven his winless team to midfield. Theo Landers had 55-yard touchdown toss and a 91-yard scamper that set up Guelph's other TD, and that accounted for more than a third of the Gryphons' offensive output.

Guelph hosts Queen's in a potential fifth/sixth-place eliminator game next week. Neither has defeated a playoff team.

Meantime, ain't no bye week party like a Windsor bye week party. Or so it is said.

McMaster 37, Toronto 3 — Time of death for the Marauders' offensive touchdown drought: 168 minutes. It took almost 27 minutes before they got across the alumni stripe, but Andreas Dueck finished with 372 yards and three touchdowns in a confidence-building exercise.

That leaves three teams square at 2-2. McMaster had the one-point win against Guelph, who hosts Queen's next week, who visits McMaster on Oct. 5, a school day game on the Friday of a holiday weekend. You already know this is finishing in a three-way split.

No. 1 Western 76, York 3 All you need to know — actually you don't need to know this — is that Trey Humes, Cedric Joseph and Alex Taylor each had more than 100 yards in total offence. The same cannot be said of any Lions players. Or of the Lions themselves.

Bye team: Ottawa.

Week 5 docket, in order of appeal: Western at Waterloo, Queen's at Guelph, Laurier at McMaster, York at Ottawa, Carleton at Toronto (bye team: Windsor).
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