OTTAWA – Alex Taylor ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns to help the Western Mustangs defeat the Ottawa Gee-Gees 68-17 on Saturday afternoon at Gee-Gees Field.
The win moves Western to 6-1 on the year, and keeps the Mustangs alongside Laurier and McMaster atop the OUA standings. Ottawa moves to 5-2 to put them into a tie with their crosstown rivals in the Carleton Ravens.
Taylor's 160 yards on the ground represent the second highest single game total of the season for the Winnipeg native, and came on 25 carries. Quarterback Chris Merchant was next up on the Mustangs rushing leaderboard, recording 72 yards on the ground on only nine attempts.
Merchant had another strong game through the air as well, throwing for 252 yards and two touchdowns, along with one interception on 17-22 passing. Stevenson Bone also performed well after coming on in relief of Merchant in the second half, completing nine of 13 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, Western held the league's top offence to only 324 yards, their lowest total of the season. The purple and white limited the Gee-Gees to only 76 yards on the ground, and held quarterback Derek Wendel to a season-low of 228 yards passing with one touchdown.
The Mustangs didn't wait long to open the scoring, putting points on the board on their opening drive of the game. Merchant capped off the seven play, 70-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to George Johnson to put Western up 7-0 less than three minutes into the contest.
After stuffing the Gee-Gees on third and one on the ensuing drive, the Mustangs took advantage of their strong field position, driving 49 yards in seven plays to make it 14-0 on a seven-yard scoring run from Taylor.
The Gee-Gees opened the scoring in the second frame with a 34-yard field goal from Lewis Ward, however a six-yard touchdown run from Taylor on the Mustangs next possession put the purple and white in front 21-3.
Western's ground game continued to put up points towards the end of the quarter, with Cedric Joseph scoring from two yards out to make it 28-3. Marc Liegghio extended that lead less than two minutes later, hitting a 36-yard field goal to add another three points for the Mustangs.
The Gee-Gees responded on their next possession, driving 75 yards and finishing things off with a 17-yard pass from Wendel to Mitchell Baines for Ottawa's first major of the day.
Just when it seemed like the Gee-Gees might take that momentum into the half, Merchant led the Mustangs offence down the field, going 84 yards on only seven plays to add another touchdown to the board. Harry McMaster finished off the scoring drive, connecting with Merchant on a 16-yard pass to send Western into the half with a 38-10 lead.
Western's offence didn't slow down in the final 30 minutes, scoring another 30 points in the second half. The Mustangs added three more touchdowns, with Taylor and Matt McDougall running in one major each, while Bone connected with Justin Sanvido on a nine-yard touchdown pass. Liegghio rounded out the scoring with three more field goals to give Western the 68-17 victory.
Next up for the Mustangs is a Homecoming showdown with the McMaster Marauders on Saturday, October 22, in the regular season finale for both teams. Game time is set for 1 p.m. at TD Stadium, and all the action can be seen live on Rogers Cable 13 and Rogers Sports Plus, and online at OUA.tv. Fans can also tune in on CHRW Radio 94.9 FM and Newstalk 1290 CJBK.
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