HAMILTON, Ont. – The Western Mustangs completed an undefeated regular season in spectacular fashion, breaking multiple CIS and OUA records in a 46-24 win over the McMaster Marauders on Saturday afternoon at Ron Joyce Stadium.
"Last week I said that was our best defensive game, today was our best defensive game. Outstanding," said Western head coach Greg Marshall.
"It's about playing better and getting better. I think it's good, because of how well we played I think our guys will look at it and say 'we can play better than that.'"
Western established itself as the most potent offence in CIS regular season history in the win, setting new milestones for points in a season with 494, and touchdowns with 64. The Mustangs also set the OUA record for rushing yards in a year with 2,947, breaking the previous mark of 2,807 set by the purple and white in 2003.
The Mustangs weren't the only ones breaking records as McMaster quarterback Asher Hastings set the CIS record for touchdown passes in a season, throwing his 31st of the year on a five-yard pass to Dan Vandervoort with just under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Hastings finished the day with 286 yards and two touchdowns on 27-41 passing with one interception.
With the win the Mustangs finish the season on top of the OUA standings with a perfect 8-0 record and have now secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs. McMaster falls to 6-2 on the year and will host an OUA quarterfinal matchup as the conference's third seed.
Somewhat overshadowed in the record-breaking performance was that the win was Marshall's 100th career CIS regular season victory. Marshall, who's won 42 regular season contests with McMaster and 58 with Western, becomes the fifth current CIS head coach with 100 regular season wins.
Yannick Harou led the Mustangs in scoring for the second consecutive week, running in three touchdowns on 61 yards rushing. Overall the Mustangs put up 495 yards of total offence, while McMaster recorded 475 yards.
Defensively, the Mustangs were led by Josh Woodman with 11.5 tackles, although Malcolm Brown had the highlight of the day, taking an interception back 111 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. The return tied a Western record set by Mark Chortos against York during the 2003 season.
"I have a lot to be thankful for [on that play]," said Brown. "The whole defence was blocking for me. We get so excited when our team gets a pick because that means we can block [the offence]."
After Western took a 3-0 lead thanks to a conceded safety and a single point off of a missed field goal, Harou recorded the day's first major late in the first quarter, scoring on a three-yard run to give Western a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes.
McMaster got on the board early in the second thanks to a 42-yard field goal from Bobby Frame.
Just when it looked like those and a single from Ben Kelly would be the only points of the quarter, the Mustangs broke things open, as Will Finch and Harou scored a pair of rushing touchdowns exactly 60 seconds apart in the final two minutes to take a 25-3 lead into halftime.
Western didn't wait long before extending that lead in the second half, with Brown's lengthy interception return coming less than three minutes into the third quarter.
Records continued to fall with the Mustangs next touchdown, a five-yard run from Harou. The major established Western as the highest scoring team in CIS history with 487 points at that point, breaking Laval's record of 481 points that was set in 2003. It was also Western's 63rd touchdown of the season, eclipsing the previous mark of 62 shared by Laval (2003) and Saint Mary's (2001).
Western added one more touchdown in the final 15 minutes, a four-yard run from Tom Marshall, but it was the Marauders who did the majority of the scoring, putting 21 points on the board thanks to touchdowns from Vandervoort, Dan Petermann, and Aaron Baker. Despite the final offensive flurry from the home side, the Mustangs walked away with a 46-24 win and a first place finish in the OUA regular season standings.
With home field advantage now secured, the Mustangs will enjoy a bye week before hosting the OUA's lowest remaining seed on Saturday, November 7, at TD Stadium.
NOTES: Western's 10 points in the first quarter was their lowest scoring opening quarter of the year…Alex Taylor's 58 yards rushing gives him 1,068 yards on the year, good for second place on the Mustangs single season rushing yards list…Harou's three rushing TDs gives him 13 this season, pushing him past Taylor for the top spot on the CIS leaderboard…
Source: Western Mustangs