OUA Football, Week 9: Ottawa, Guelph come through; Queen's and Laurier have a quiet going into the night

It is not where a team starts, but where it finishes — and this engrossing Guelph-Waterloo rivalry is far from finished.

In a rather kismet outcome for a season that's been a Long Journey To The Muddle, two teams that went to double overtime on the final day of the regular season will reconvene on the same field in seven days time for an Ontario University Athletics quarterfinal. The Gryphons' 47-44 double-overtime decision against the Warriors, combined with events elsewhere. gave them home-field for a quarter-final next week. Waterloo got the help it needed from bye teams Ottawa and Western to be assured of the No. 6 seed, its first playoff berth in 15 seasons and first since a smaller tournament was adopted.

O glorious day, then! McMaster will be at Carleton for the 5 vs. 4 quarterfinal.

While everyone gloms on to Waterloo's accomplishment the way everyone adopts the baseball team in the LCS with the longest pennant drought — don't knock it, what were you doing 15 years ago? Bet you didn't even have Wi-Fi yet — the events don't get this dramatic without the Gryphons' improved scoring capability. So let's start there.

There was every right to be a skeptic eight weeks ago when Guelph showed symptoms of severe shootingitselfinthefeetitis during a one-point defeat at McMaster. Score-zone problems remained an Achilles heel as it painted itself into a corner at 2-3. However, in a high-leverage situations, albeit against some highly pliable defences, Theo Landers and the offence came through.

The cold and wind that had gripped southern Ontario in the middle of this week, creating optimal football weather. Given the hyper-offence that Waterloo has, that seemed made for Waterloo and Tre Ford to put up some PlayStation numbers. The kicker is that the Warriors did that and Guelph matched. The Gryphons went touchdown-field goal-touchdown-field goal on their final four possessions spanning the end of the fourth quarter and prolongationt.

Also, full marks to Guelph for the gadget play of the season, a tap pass with a reverse handoff that Kian Schaffer-Baker housed for a 53-yard touchdown.

There is a phenomena with Week 9. The anticipation is the thing; there were 64 different possibilities trotted out by the conference. But order emerges from the chaos. Ottawa was its opportunistic self while Queen's played just well enough to lose. McMaster got what it needed in Windsor. And Western just poured it on at Laurier to put —30— to a Golden Hawks season that began so promisingly.

Guelph 47, Waterloo 44 (OT) — The other bit of symmetry to this involves Gabriel Ferraro. One can only presume some internalization must have happened when the Gryphons kicker had gutting misses during the three games that Guelph lost by a combined six points against McMaster and Ottawa. But he made two pressure kicks on Saturday and the latter gave him a career record.
Speaking of records, Tyler Ternowski, everybody!
The mind also reels upon glancing at Tre Ford's final stats — 10.7 yards per attempt, 350-plus yards per game and a 27-to-2 touchdown/interception ratio, along with being sixth in the conference in rushing — and remembering he's a second-year player. How much of that is him being a singular talent in a scheme that lets him create and how much of that is the field being tilted toward offense is hard to say, but those are some gaudy numbers. The 27 touchdowns is 10 more than anyone else in Ontario. The two picks is tied for the least among the 16 quarterbacks who tried at least 40 passes. And he still has at least two years left at this level, most likely.

No. 5 Ottawa 27 Queen's 22 — Holy microcosm of both teams' season, Batman! Outgained, But Not Outscored could be the credo for these Gee-Gees, who will host a semifinal on Nov. 3. They were held to 259 yards and backup quarterback Alex Lavric came on for Sawyer Buettner late in the third quarter. But between a strip sack that was pounced on in the end zone and two long interception returns from Jamie Harry and Marc-Ellie Jace, Ottawa got 17 points off of turnovers.

Meantime, late in the second quarter, Queen's got to the Ottawa 30-, 19- and 23-yard line, and netted a whole six points. It seemed like whenever Ottawa needed to, it just big-blitzed with seven or eight defenders, defying Queen's and Nate Hobbs to complete a pass under pressure.

There was a red-zone play in the second quarter where Ottawa sent seven, and Hobbs' trained response was a post-corner deep in the end zone to Matteo Del Brocco, who was doubled by Jace and the Gee-Gees' veteran outfielder, Cody Cranston. If that's the read, then that's the read even if everyone else was single-covered or uncovered, and the Gee-Gees duo did enough to induce an incomplete pass and Queen's took the three-ball.

The strip-sack touchdown was set up by Queen's getting backed up by a ball-in-flight holding penalty on a punt return. A similar infraction hurt them in their Oct. 5 loss at McMaster. It was a game effort and Hobbs, second in the conference in yardage, probably rated better, but Queen's just seems to be in a phase where little mistakes mushroom into catastrophe.

No. 1 Western 46, Laurier 13 — Is there a better illustration of Western beasting everyone and Laurier becoming completely ineffectual on defence than Chris Merchant scooping up his own fumble and finding the seam for a 74-yard touchdown? I submit that there is not.

McMaster 17 Windsor 5The throwback scoreline fits the narrative with the Marauders, who have waited more than three weeks for the smoke signals to emerge from Gilmour Hall to tell them whether Greg Knox will be allowed to coach again. It seems like bureaucratic absurdity that the ambiguity has stretched out for basically half of the regular season but that's where we are in Canada, as Michael Scott would say.

York 31, Toronto 15 — One thing the shamateur sports-industrial complex has that's worth shamelessly ripping off is multi-game rivalry trophies. Take the competition series between Air Force, Army and Navy for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Since preparing for America's next unwinnable war limits the service-academy teams' ability to recruit national championship-level talent, they do need something else to aspire toward.

To that end, and in the service of irony and owning one's okay-ness, how about some recognition for York? The Lions, led by the Hunchak connection, did sweep the traditional bottom four with Saturday's win tacked on to victories against Waterloo and Windsor.

That takes the tangent over which inhibitor of the sport's growth should have their name disgrace this hypothetical trophy. Nominations should be entered in the comments; don't worry, no one is going to read them.

There is something known as Depressed Gamer Alpha State, where the person losing himself in a football video game challenges himself to average more than one point scored per play run. In the beta phase, York acheived that during the second quarter —28 points in the second quarter in a span of 25 offensive snaps, and each drive as shorter than the last.

One could call that a building block for years to come but our membership in the Lily Guild has lapsed.

On to the playoffs!
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  1. The Not-On-TV Participation Pin.

    The Least-of-the-League Bursary ($50, refundable)

    The We-Can-Score-A-Major Certificate

  2. The Western Loney Bowl. Give them an AUS West pennant, and have them refuse to play the AUS East* winner based on being morally repelled by the notion of interlock.

  3. The Longyear Scholarship award was "won" by yours truly in 1991. Given to the boob most likely not to be attending higher education but with marks that said he should, I like to think of it as a participation ribbon...as in, "thanks for coming out."

    Awards that don't really matter, seemingly, don't really matter. Except for those who win them. I'm not sure how York or the Blues feel about the Boatman Cup, but I was absolutely over the moon when I found out that my name was called for the award at convocation.

    Of course, the asses at Widdifield Secondary could have told me I was going to win. Maybe then I actually would have attended. Still, when a classmate told me I had won the morning after, slinging bags of cement into old Marco-the stone mason's truck was never so easy. Those bags of terrazzo stone felt like a feather.

    Never did cash that cheque, after it arrived in the mail. But it mattered, man. It was an accomplishment, even if school wasn't in my plans at the moment.

    When I finally decided to head of to school, a decade-plus later, I thought about that cheque. Long since lost, I wondered if the engineering firm would honour it.

    Man, the memory of the morning when Alex told me about my win still brings out a smile.

    My Mum still brings up the lack of invite to graduation in our family's list of greviences, usually aired at Christmas, in true Costanza fashion.