GUELPH 24, OTTAWA 21
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons football team offered a glimpse of what they can be this season – a squad with big-play ability on both sides of the ball. Guelph showed a lot of resolve engineering a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback but a 28-yard Lewis Ward field goal in double overtime lifted the Ottawa Gee-Gees to a 24-21 win over the Gryphons in a wild OUA season opener Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
Guelph erupted for 11 points in the final 2:35 of the fourth quarter to tie the game 18-18 and send it to overtime. The Gryphons exchanged field goals with Ottawa in the first extra sequence, including a 49-yard bomb by Gabriel Ferraro, which ignited an already pumped up crowd. Ward would then hit again from 28 yards out and Ferraro, kicking into the wind, pulled his 36-yard attempt left to end the game.
It was disappointing finish but the Gryphons showed resilience and heart in front of their home fans.
"The effort, the belief, and the trust in each other by the kids was outstanding," said head coach Kevin MacNeill. "They really battled to come back and tie the game and put it into overtime. That's the kind of effort we need for a whole game."
Guelph, in the process of installing a new offence, initially had a tough time sustaining any momentum in its possessions. Ottawa took advantage by scoring 16 straight points on two conceded safeties and four of Ward's six field goals on the day to build an 18-7 lead.
"You really have to credit their defence," said MacNeill. "Especially in the third quarter, they really stuffed it pretty good and it definitely hurt us. We'll have to look at the film."
But the Gryphons changed gears late. Fourth-year quarterback James Roberts connected with Jacob Scarfone on a beautiful 74-yard catch-and-run score with just 2:35 left in the fourth quarter. Roberts then threw to Kian Schaffer-Baker, who ripped the ball out of the air with an Ottawa defender draped on him, for a clutch two-point conversion to cut into the visitors' lead. Ferraro booted a 38-yard field goal with just one second left on the clock to force the overtime.
Roberts finished with 189 passing yards on the day, while Scarfone hauled in three catches for 123 yards and the big touchdown. Second-year running back Patrick Pierre, making his first career start, worked hard in the backfield, carrying the ball 26 times for 100 yards.
Guelph would make several huge defensive plays, particularly in the fourth quarter when they consistently pressured young Ottawa quarterback Alex Lavric, who had replaced injured starter Victor Twynstra. The Gryphons were relentless during their comeback, led by rookie defensive end Alain Cimankinda. Cimankinda, the defensive player of the game, registered three and a half sacks, including one in overtime, for Ottawa losses totaling 22 yards. OUA All-Star Job Reinhart had two and a half sacks and Charlie Taggart added two more, while Luke Korol led all players with 16 tackles (12 solo).
"We're happy with how we played," Korol said of the defensive unit. "Things like this happen. It's just the way the game we went. There are definitely areas that we can fix up and we'll do that this week. "We'll respond and come back better."
Guelph did have a couple untimely penalties that put both units in trouble throughout the game.
The Gryphons will look to rebound when they hit the road to face the Western Mustangs in London Monday, Sept. 4. Game time is 7 pm.
WESTERN 66, YORK 3
TORONTO – The Western Mustangs got their season off to a strong start on Sunday afternoon, scoring 34 first half points on their way to a 66-3 win over the York Lions at Alumni Field.
"We have lots of spots to improve, we have to play well," said Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall. "We're quick on defence, we're not big, so we're going to have to execute all the time. We're going to have to be more consistent on offence than we were today. A lot of the time we just didn't have any rhythm. We got big plays, but we didn't have any rhythm. [There were] little consistency issues, but other than that I'm happy with the way the guys played today."
Starting quarterback Chris Merchant threw for 221 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on 11 for 23 passing, while Stevenson Bone went 4-4 with 151 yards and both a rushing and passing touchdown.
Malik Besseghieur led the Mustangs receiving corps with 179 yards on six catches, including his first ever OUA touchdown on a 75-yard catch and run from Bone. Brett Ellerman had a strong game of his own, catching four passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
In total Western's offence racked up 596 yards on 70 plays, while the purple and white defence limited York to 223 yards of total offence. Defensive back Bleska Kambamba had the defensive highlight of the day, picking off a pass from Brett Hunchak in the first quarter and taking it back 43 yards for the score.
Along with the overall result, coach Marshall was quick to point out the success of the special teams unit, as the Mustangs blocked two punts in the win, while Cole Majoros returned a punt 90-yards for a touchdown. Kicker Marc Liegghio tallied 14 points off of two field goals, seven extra points, and a single, while also averaging 43.4 yards per punt.
"Marc was hammering the ball today. He really kicked the ball well and put the ball in good spots," said Marshall. "There were a couple of coverages that we need to get a little bit better, they returned a couple kicks early on us. Marc pinned them deep, but they got pretty good field position. That's just young guys knowing their lines and their responsibilities, but our guys were aggressive on the [punt blocks], we broke a big run open…I thought overall this was an outstanding special teams game for us."
After picking up three points from a Liegghio field goal on their first drive, the Mustangs picked up their first major of the day on a 54-yard pass from Merchant to Brett Ellerman midway through the opening quarter.
"I was coming across the middle and saw the safety drop, I knew Chris was going to be putting it on me pretty quick and he did, so as soon as I got it I put my foot in the ground and ran as fast as I could toward the end zone," said Ellerman about his first touchdown of the day.
Kambamba extended that lead to 16-0 late in the frame, picking off a pass from Hunchak and taking it back 43 yards to close out the first quarter with a 16-point lead for the visiting side.
Special teams stole the show in the second quarter, with both Andrew Thurston and Fraser Sopik blocking Lions punts, while Majoros added one for the highlight reel, taking a punt back 90 yards for the score. Cedric Joseph recorded the Mustangs second touchdown of the quarter on a one-yard run, and a late field goal from the Lions set the scoreboard at 34-3 for Western at halftime.
Merchant and Ellerman connected for a touchdown again in the third, this time scoring on a 29-yard pass to make it 41-3 early in the frame. The Mustangs offence continued to roll, with a pair of short-yard runs from Bone and Joseph making it 55-3, before Besseghieur's 75-yard touchdown made it 64-3 heading into the final quarter. "It's good for Malik," said Marshall. "That's the kind of game he needs, he's got the ability, just needs confidence. That was a game that's going to give him a lot of it."
After scoring three touchdowns in less than six minutes to close out the third, the game's rapid pace slowed down in the fourth, with the Mustangs adding two points off of a conceded safety from the Lions to close things out with a 66-3 win.
"It felt good being out there after a long training camp," said Kambamba. "I've been preparing for this for a while, so it felt really good being out there."
"There's always negatives," said Kambamba when asked if there was anything negative about Sunday's game. "There's always something we can fix, and that's what we're going to do tomorrow, watch our film and we're going to get better. That's the only thing we can do is get better because we have bigger fish to fry everywhere. Everybody wants the top and we've got to work for it."
Next up for the Mustangs is their home opener on Monday, September 4, against the Guelph Gryphons. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at TD Stadium, and can be seen live on Rogers Cable 13 in London and OUA.tv. Fans can also tune in on CHRW Radio 94.9 FM and on Newstalk 1290 CJBK with Tom McConnell and legendary Mustangs coach Larry Haylor calling all the action.
CARLETON 22, QUEEN'S 17
The Carleton Ravens kicked off their 2017 season with a comeback win on enemy territory Saturday, defeating the Queen's Gaels 22-17 at Richardson Stadium.
The Ravens started their game off strong, putting themselves in field goal position three minutes into the first. Fifth-year Michael Domagala (St. Catharines, ON) attempted the 37-yard kick, but fell short. However, he was quick to redeem himself with 8:33 on the clock, opening the Ravens scoring with a 37-yard field goal to make the game 3-0.
The Gael's Nick Liberatore made sure to respond towards the end of the quarter with a field goal from the 20-yard line to even out the game, 3-3.
Carleton's offence was able to answer with a touchdown early in the second when Queen's veteran QB Nate Hobbs fumbled the ball, leading to a 22-yard recovery and dash to the end zone from Frederik Robitaille (Terrebonne, QC). The Ravens were able to snag the extra point with a kick from Domagala. Just one minute later, in an explosive defensive play, Carleton's Jeremy Rioux (Gatineau, QC) sacked Hobbs for a two-point safety, bringing the lead to 12-3.
After a dull first half from Queen's, the Gaels came out ready to play in the second half, putting themselves back in the game. Nearing the midway point of the third, Hobbs was able to connect with fourth-year receiver Matteo Del Brocco on an 18-yard TD pass. A good kick from Liberatore made it a two-point game for the Gaels at 12-10.
Just a few minutes into the fourth quarter, Hobbs was able to reach Del Brocco again on a 16-yard TD pass turning the game in Queen's favour. Another good kick from Liberatore had the Ravens trailing by five.After a few tough breaks for Carleton, heading into the final few minutes of the fourth, it seemed as though the game was going to come to a crushing end. However, the Ravens weren't ready to give up just yet.
With just under two minutes to go, the Ravens found themselves at the Queen's 40-yard line. After a few clutch passes from rookie QB Michael Arruda (Gatineau, QC) to third-year wide receiver Phil Iloki (Montreal, QC), they put themselves in field-goal territory. Domagala stepped up and nailed a 27-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 17-15 on the scoreboard.
Down by two at the 43-yard line, with 47 seconds to go, Iloki brought Carleton five yards closer on a pass from Arruda. The first-year quarterback was then able to find fifth-year Dexter Brown (Sherwood Park, AB), who rushed the ball to the one-yard line. On the next play, Arruda pulled the quarterback sneak to find paydirt, sealing Carleton's victory with a touchdown score.
Ravens' head coach Steve Sumarah was happy with his team's performance. "I thought we played really hard and I thought we stayed together as a team and really supported each other even when things were looking a little dire there," he said. "For game one, I'll walk away with that win anytime."
However, he recognized that there's still a long way to go."I think the biggest thing is consistency, you know at times we were very good all the way around and at other times we made a lot of mistakes."
Consistency will be a key factor in next week's game against the McMaster Marauders, who stunned the Ravens in last year's season opener with a 40-10 win. "Obviously Mac is a very good team and it always has been for years," Sumarah explained. "It's going to be one of those scenarios where we can't turn the ball over – we have to play mistake-free football. And, when we get the chance to make plays and create turnovers like we did early in the game today we need to jump all over that."
The Ravens will take on the Marauders next Sunday (Sept. 4) on home turf at MNP Park at 7:30 p.m.
DOMAGALA SETS RAVENS RECORD:
Fifth-year kicker Michael Domagala became Carleton's all-time career scoring leader on Saturday, passing Jeff Morris' previous total of 228 points with eight points against the Gaels. Domagala's first quarter field goal tied him with Morris at the top of the list, before his extra point on Frederik Robitaille's touchdown saw him overtake Morris as the new career record holder at the university. Morris had held the career scoring mark since his final season in 1986.
BY THE NUMBERS:
The Ravens set a modern-era program record with nine sacks on Queen's quarterback Nate Hobbs. Defensive lineman Tevin Bowen (Toronto, ON) led the way with 2.5 sacks and his forced fumble led to Robitaille's second-quarter touchdown. Linebacker Leon Cenerini (La Salle, MB) had a game-high 9.5 tackles, which included a sack.
WATERLOO 54, WINDSOR 33
"This is just the start fellas", six words spoken by head coach Chris Bertoia, in an emotional post-game speech given to his players after an incredible 54-33 victory in game one of the 2017 OUA football season.
After two winless seasons, Bertoia earned his first U SPORTS victory as head coach of the black and gold and spoken in his words, this truly is just the beginning for Waterloo's football program. Almost an entirely new coaching staff, tremendous support from the University and a full commitment to recruiting and educating the student-athletes, a new era has begun for football at the University of Waterloo.
"Today was just one of those days I will never forget," said an emotionally charged Chris Bertoia after the win. "It has been a long two years but our coaching staff has stuck to the game plan and it all came to fruition in today's victory. The support from the University, the Department of Athletics and beyond has been amazing and to start off the season with a convincing win is very humbling and exciting."
Waterloo's last win came in their final game of 2014 as the black and gold edged York 32-31 and you have to go all the way back to 2007 when they last won a season opener, where they bested Toronto, 42-17.
Today's victory was highlighted by one the most historic and memorable rookie performances as cornerback Tyrell Ford(Niagara Falls/) ran back not one but two punt returns, one for 98 yards and another highlight reel 100 yard major. In just his first U SPORTS contest, Tyrell finished with 263 yards on eight returns and was also a factor defensively with 5.5 tackles.
Waterloo's offence was firing on all cylinders today led by Lucas McConnell (Waterford) who went 7-for-13 with 113 passing yards and three touchdown passes while rookie Tre Ford (Niagara Falls/) went 7-for-9 for 50 yards and one touchdown pass.
Most of Waterloo's damage however was done on the ground with 219 rushing yards compared to 186 for Windsor. Tre Ford (Niagara Falls/) used his agility and speed and showed his bright future in the league with 14 carries for 108 yards while Brandon Metz (Cambridge/) had 83 including a 20 yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach as Waterloo went up 54-31. Dion Pellerin (Abbotsford/) rounded out a strong Warriors ground game with 78 yards on 12 touches.
In the air, Waterloo was successful at finding the endzone, doing so four times by four different players. Mitch Kernick(Elmira/) hauled in a 24 yard pass, the longest of the contest and finished with 80 yards in the air. Richmond Nketiah(Brampton/), Gordon Lam (Kitchener/) and Blair Mckay were the other three Warriors receivers to put up six in Waterloo's dominant win.
The story defensively was Waterloo's second half performance allowing just five points in the 30 minutes of action while the Warriors put up 22 to cruise to the victory. Second year linebacker continued where he left off last season with 9.5 tackles while another second year Michael Reid(Sault Ste. Marie/) was stellar with seven tackles.
Waterloo will look to make it a 2-0 start when they welcome the York Lions to Warrior Field on Labour Day Monday. Kickoff is set for 1pm and the game can be seen live on OUA.tv.
LAURIER 39, TORONTO 0
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues football team dropped their season opener 39-0 to the defending Yates Cup champion Laurier Golden Hawks on Sunday, August 27 at University Stadium in Waterloo, Ont.
"We still have seven games left," said Varsity Blues head coach Greg Gary. "We came into camp talking about preparation. I think part of what the team has to do is trust the process. We've seen Laurier play this same offence unsuccessfully and then they won the Yates Cup with it. Once it gels nicely, I think we will be successful."
Damoy Robinson led all players with 12 tackles, while fellow third-year defensive back Nick Hallet had eight tackles on the day.
"Both of our halves [Damoy Robinson and Nick Hallett] played a great game," added Gary. "They both held the edge. Those guys need to be play makers and make tackles and they did today."
"Our defence has to stand on their heads when offence isn't playing well. This can't be special. This has to be an expectation that they play this well all of the time."
Third-year Washington State transfer Connor Ennis went 9-for-22 for 58 yards in the loss. Sophomore receiver Nick Stadnyk made four catches for 24 yards. Fifth-year veteran Kaleb Leach led the Blues on the ground, rushing 12 times for 38 yards, while also making two kick returns for 36 yards in the loss.
The Varsity Blues are back in action Labour Day Monday as they host the Windsor Lancers at Varsity Stadium. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.