WATERLOO, Ont. – Matt Uren recorded two touchdowns and racked up 143 yards receiving to help lead the Western Mustangs to a 59-9 victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday night at University Stadium.
"[Laurier]'s a good football team. We played four quarters today and showed what we can do," said Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall. "We've got to get better, but there's a lot of good things that we did today."
"I thought the play of our offensive line [was key], and Will put the ball in really good spots. We kept them off balance with the run and the pass – our offence is really difficult to defend. The biggest difference was the play of our defence, they put pressure on them, they did a nice job up front."
With the win the Mustangs improve to 3-0 on the season, tying them for first place in the OUA with the Guelph Gryphons, and have outscored their opponents 209-26. The Golden Hawks fall to 1-2 on the season, and are in a four-way tie for sixth.
Uren proved to be quarterback Will Finch's favourite target for the second time in three games this season, hauling in 10 passes. The London native now leads the Mustangs with 340 yards receiving and three touchdowns, all while averaging 113.3 yards per game.
"He's one of the best receivers I've ever thrown to, he's just so dynamic and athletic," said Finch. "Anytime you have a versatile athlete like that, if you get the ball into his hands he's going to make plays."
While Uren may have been Finch's most targeted receiver he certainly wasn't the quarterback's only target, as Finch completed 25 of 33 passes for a season-high 385 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in a little over three quarters of play.
Not to be outdone by their teammates in the passing game, the Mustangs running backs continued to dominate opposing defences with 349 total yards and three touchdowns. Second-year back Alex Taylor once again led the way, running the ball 15 times to record 159 yards and one touchdown.
Jesse McNair led the Mustangs defence with 9.5 tackles, with Ricky Osei-Kusi coming in just behind with seven tackles and three sacks in his first game of the season. Also making an impact were Clay Harris II and Nick Vanin as both returned interceptions for touchdowns.
"I've seen that play a couple of times, and as soon as I read that pattern I just trusted my eyes, jumped [the route], and I knew there wasn't anyone in front of me," said Vanin on his interception.
Harris II opened the scoring just under four minutes in, picking off Laurier quarterback James Fracas at the 20 yard line and making a highlight reel return, cutting all over the field and making multiple defenders miss en route to the end zone to give the Mustangs an early 7-0 lead.
Taylor made it 14-0 for the purple and white with less than a minute remaining in the quarter, scoring on a four-yard run that was set up earlier in the drive with an impressive 29-yard run of his own three plays prior.
The Mustangs running game continued to put points on the board, as Yannick Harou recorded his second touchdown of the year on a 33-yard run, giving Western a 21-0 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter.
Both offences quieted down for the next few minutes, until Finch found receiver Uren in traffic in the end zone on a 23-yard pass. Western increased its lead to 35-0 on the ensuing drive as Vanin intercepted Fracas' pass and went 28-yards untouched into the end zone.
Ben Kelly rounded out the scoring in the half with a career-long 46-yard field goal to give the Mustangs a 38-0 lead midway through the game.
The Mustangs offence continued to put points on the board in the third quarter, with touchdowns coming on passes from Finch to Matt Brazier and Uren from 29 and 15 yards respectively. Stevenson Bone recorded the Mustangs final points a one-yard run early in the fourth quarter for his first touchdown of the year.
Laurier recorded their first points of the contest early in the third quarter on a 37-yard field goal from Nathan Mesher. He added another three points to the board in the opening minute of the fourth quarter on a 33-yard field goal, before finishing the game's scoring with a 37-yard field goal with less than two minutes left, to set the scoreboard at 59-9 in favour of the Mustangs.
Next up for the Mustangs is a matchup against the 2-1 Queen's Gaels on Saturday, September 19, with game time set for 1 p.m. at TD Stadium.
"We've got a great rivalry with Queen's, so that will be fun," said Marshall. "Hopefully we'll have a nice day with a big crowd, Queen's and Western have a great tradition and they're a very well-coached team. We expect that Laurier, Queen's, and Carleton, all these games are going to be tough."
Fans can watch all the action live on OUA.tv and Rogers Cable 13, or listen 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: As head coach of the Mustangs Greg Marshall has never lost to the Golden Hawks, compiling a perfect 11-0 record in his nine seasons at the helm…Clay Harris II and Nick Vanin's interceptions and touchdown returns were the first of their CIS careers in both categories…Vanin and Harris II's touchdowns were the first interceptions that the Mustangs have taken back for points since last year's season opener against York…Finch's interception midway through the second quarter was his first of the season. Up to that point in 2015 he'd thrown 55 consecutive passes, including 43 completions, without being picked off...
Source: Western Mustangs