WINDSOR, Ont. – The Western Mustangs couldn't have asked for a better start to the 2015 OUA football season, opening the scoring just over two minutes into the game and never looking back en route to a 76-7 win over the Windsor Lancers on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field.
"It was good, a little sloppy," said Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall on the team's performance. "Overall I thought our offensive line controlled the ball. Our fitness showed up. We have been going no huddle-high tempo for two weeks in training camp. I know our offensive line has probably been complaining about me but you can see our fitness level out there.
"We were trying to hold back but our line was still coming off the football and that was the key in the end. We were just knocking them off the football and making it easy for our running backs."
The purple and white offence looked at times to be in mid-season form, scoring 62 unanswered points to begin the game on a scoring run that lasted into the fourth quarter.
The Mustangs running backs picked up the majority of the team's yardage on Sunday, accounting for 484 of the team's 749 total offensive yards. All four of the Mustangs backs found the endzone, including Alex Taylor, who racked up 144 yards on 11 carries with one touchdown. Also impressive was rookie Cedric Joseph as the Champlain College product scored the first two touchdowns of his CIS career while also picking up up 88 yards on only five carries.
"Great blocking up front by my line," said Joseph when asked to describe his first career touchdown. "I love the big guys up front. I come from a program that likes to run the ball. I come here, Western loves to run the ball. Western has five good guys, a good crew of [offensive linemen], and downfield blocking by the wide receivers. It's a lot easier when everyone is in sync and is doing their jobs at 110 percent."
Quarterback Will Finch controlled the Mustangs attack, completing 20-of-27 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, while adding another score on the ground. Josh Beach added another 57 yards passing and his first career touchdown pass after Finch was removed from the game late in the third quarter with the Mustangs holding a large lead.
"I thought we played well," said Finch. "[We] stalled a little here and there in the first half, just feeling it out. The first game always is like that. Overall I thought we played well, and everyone contributed. Anytime you win 76-7 its good."
Senior receiver Matt Uren led the team's receiving corps, hauling in eight passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, while Matt McDougall and Justin Sanvido also scored their first touchdowns of the year.
Defensively the Mustangs were led by Jean-Gabriel Poulin as the St. Nicholas, Quebec, native registered six tackles as well as the defensive highlight of the day, grabbing a mishandled snap and returning it 15 yards for his first career CIS touchdown. Malcolm Brown also made an impact, making 4.5 tackles while also grabbing two of Western's four interceptions. Overall the Mustangs defence limited the Lancers to only 188 yards of total offence, and coach Marshall was quick to point out how well his defenders performed.
"They played really well," said Marshall. "They came in and did a good job shutting the pass down. I think it was a boost for our secondary coverage when they locked up in man."
Ben Kelly opened the scoring not only on the game, but also on his CIS career, hitting a 22-yard field goal a little over two minutes into the game to give Western an early 3-0 lead.
After recovering the ball on an interception on the following drive, the Mustangs extended their lead to 10-0 midway through the frame on a 16-yard pass from Finch to Uren.
With neither team able to solve the other early in the second quarter it looked like the game may become a lower scoring affair before Taylor broke things open with a fantastic 59-yard touchdown run to increase the Western lead to 19-0.
Yannick Harou appeared to close out a strong first half for the Mustangs with a 30-yard touchdown run to give Western a 26-0 lead, however Jordan Beaulieu blocked a punt on the ensuing drive, giving the Mustangs one more shot before the end of the half. Finch made sure to take advantage of the extra play, connecting with a wide-open Justin Sanvido to send the purple and white into the half with a 33-0 lead.
Western's offence continued to roll in the second half, scoring 29 points in the third quarter off of touchdowns from Finch, Joseph, Poulin, and McDougall. McDougall's score came off of a 22-yard pass from Beach to give Western a 62-0 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Lancers broke the shutout in the fourth quarter on a one-yard run from Tarrence Crawford, however it would be their only points of the day as Western closed out the quarter with touchdowns from Joseph and Adam Sinclair to claim a 76-7 victory.
Next up for the Mustangs is the team's home opener on Monday, September 7, against the York Lions. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at TD Stadium, and fans can watch all the action live on OUA.tv and Rogers Cable 13 in London, or listen live on CHRW Radio 94.9 FM or on Newstalk 1290 CJBK with Tom McConnell and legendary Mustangs coach Larry Haylor calling all the action.
NOTES: Sunday's win was the eighth straight season opening victory for Western, with the Mustangs outscoring their opponents by a 440-102 margin in those debut contests. Western's last first game loss came at the hands of Queen's in 2007… Receiver Jamal Kett's 21-yard catch late in the second quarter was the first of his CIS career. The Simon Fraser transfer finished the day with three catches for 40 yards… Adam Sinclair's 107 yards rushing nearly matched the London native's career high of 114 yards achieved against Carleton in Western's 2013 season opener.
Source: Western Mustangs