Western 41, Guelph 34 (OT)
LONDON, Ont. – Despite kickoff being delayed by more than two hours due to lightning, Monday's home opener didn't disappoint as the Western Mustangs won an overtime thriller over the Guelph Gryphons by a 41-34 score at TD Stadium.
It was a wild game at TD Stadium that, along with weather delays, featured multiple lead changes and eventually needed extra time to decide a winner. Stevenson Bone provided the final points of the evening, diving in from the one yard line to put the Mustangs up, while the defence shut down the Gryphons on their first overtime possession to secure the win.
Chris Merchant led the Mustangs offence in the victory, topping the charts of the Mustangs both in the air and on the ground. The Calgary native completed 27 of 41 passes for 378 yards, all career highs, with one touchdown and one interception, while also rushing for 92 yards and two majors. Malik Besseghieur was Merchant's favourite target in the win, catching nine passes for 69 yards, while Brett Ellerman and Harry McMaster led the Mustangs receiving corps with 105 and 94 yards respectively.
James Roberts countered with a strong game of his own for the Gryphons, connecting on 20 of 28 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Zeph Fraser hauled in eight catches for 143 yards to lead the Gryphons in both categories, and was followed by Jacob Scarfone with six receptions for 99 yards.
Things started out strong for the Mustangs, capping off their first drive with a 26-yard field goal from Marc Liegghio, but the Gryphons tied things up with a field goal of their towards the end of the first quarter. The Gryphons controlled the play in the second, recording another field goal from Ferraro to take the lead before James Roberts connected with Fraser to put Guelph up by 10. A nine-yard field goal from Liegghio closed out the half on a positive note for the home side to cut the Guelph lead to 16-6.
Western came out strong in the second half with Merchant picking up the Mustangs first major of the day on a six-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the quarter. Another rushing touchdown from Merchant, this one from 14 yards out, along with two conceded safeties from the Gryphons put Western up 24-16 heading into the final quarter.
Just as Western started off the third quarter with a quick score the Gryphons did the same in the fourth, capping off a 93-yard drive with a 21-yard pass from Roberts to Fraser before successfully adding a two point convert to tie things up at 24-24. The Gryphons didn't wait long before striking again as Johnny Augustine rattled off an 81-yard touchdown run less than three minutes later to put the visiting side up 31-24.
Both kickers traded field goals to keep things seven points apart before Merchant found Besseghieur on a four-yard pass to tie the game at 31-31 and eventually send the game to overtime. In the extra frame the Mustangs took possession first and didn't waste time, scoring on their first drive on a one-yard run from Bone to take the lead. Western's defence then secured the win by forcing the Gryphons to go three-and-out to make it a 41-34 victory for the Mustangs.
Next up for the Mustangs is a matchup with the rival McMaster Marauders on Saturday, September 9. Game time is set for 1 p.m., and fans can tune in live on OUA.tv and CHRW Radio 94.9 FM, or on Newstalk 1290 CJBK with Tom McConnell and legendary Mustangs coach Larry Haylor calling all the action.
Toronto 19, Windsor 12
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues football team notched their first win of the season, 19-12, over the Windsor Lancers on Labour Day Monday at Varsity Stadium.
After a short lightning delay before the start of the game, the two teams were delayed for 1.5 hours at the 7:55 mark of the first quarter. Due to City of Toronto bylaws, OUA policies and, with the agreement of both head coaches, the game was called at 11:30pm, with 6:21 remaining in the fourth quarter. "I don't think this has ever happened here," said Varsity Blues quarterback and Washington State transfer Connor Ennis. "It was definitely a learning experience but we handled the adversity well and a win is a win. It's good to be 1-1 moving onto next week."
Ennis went 9-for-15 for 138 yards and one touchdown, while fifth-year running back Kaleb Leach rushed 14 times for 63 yards in the victory. Sophomore receiver Nick Stadnyk made four catches for 67 yards, while rookie Jaykwon Thompson had three receptions for 46 yards and one major.
Third-year defensive back Lamar Foyle led all players with 10 tackles, while Nick Hallett added 9.5 tackles on the night. Third-year defensive back Jordan Gillespie ended the night with five tackles, one fumble recovery and one interception for a touchdown. "Jordan's interception was huge," added Ennis. "He jumped in and took it to the crib. The defence, especially the last two weeks, have played really well. They equalize our mistakes offensively and they are dominating out there."
Once action resumed after the lightning delay, the first quarter ended scoreless. The Blues opened the scoring early in the second quarter as Ennis connected a 28-yard strike with Thompson for his first touchdown as a Varsity Blue. A Toronto single, as a result of a Brittley Mokube tackle in the Lancers end zone, put the Blues up 8-0 at halftime.
Fifth-year Blues punter TJ Morton added another single early in the third quarter but the Lancers finally got on the board four minutes later with a 22-yard field goal from fourth-year kicker Clark Green. bU of T was up 9-3 at the end of the third quarter.
After an Ethan Shafer 12-yard field goal put the Blues up 12-6, Gillespie came up with a pick six on a Windsor 3rd & 4, returning the ball 42 yards for the major. The Lancers marched back down the field and quarterback Colton Allen connected a seven-yard pass with Daynar Facey to make it 19-12 at the conclusion of the game.
The Varsity Blues (1-1) are back in action next Saturday, September 9th as they travel to take on the Waterloo Warriors (2-0) at 1 p.m.
Ottawa 14, Queen's 13
Until late in the fourth quarter of the Gee-Gees football Home Opener, it looked as though the team's offensive struggles were going to cost them their first loss of the season.
Instead, it was a play on special teams that led them to a 14-13 win over the Queen's Gaels. With 1:46 left in the game, third-year defensive back Jackson Bennett saved the day with a 99-yard kickoff return for the game's only touchdown. Just like their win against Guelph the week prior, the team executed in key moments and relied heavily on their defence to seal the win.
The play was similar to the first time Bennett had the ball in his hands in his rookie season, when he ran a kick back 101 yards for a touchdown at Toronto. "The crease just opened and I saw daylight," said Bennett, who also had 5 tackles and a pass break up on defence. "Back in my first-year at Toronto, I remember celebrating with [Tyler] McLaren and back in the end zone this time we did the same thing."
When it mattered most, the Gee-Gees defence held strong and closed out the win. Defensive end Alain Pae, a Master's student from the Czech Republic, came up big time in the game. Pae led the defence with 4 of the team's 9 sacks in his second ever Canadian football game after playing American rules in Europe. Two of his sacks were on the last two plays of the game.
"We're a new unit, and with time we'll be even better," said Pae. "Our offence needs time, and with a rookie QB we need to support him … After Jackson's touchdown we knew needed to keep going and stop them. We returned back to the game and finished them."
First-year quarterback Alex Lavric, started his first game ever for the Gee-Gees after playing for the second half of last week's game. The Mississauga, ON native was able to control the offence well at times, but was hindered by a strong Queen's defence, weather conditions, and a multitude of penalties that derailed drives. He finished with 225 yards on 19-28 passing, 7 of those passes were caught by third-year receiver Carter Matheson, who finished with a career-high 105 yards.
"We played a lot of young kids," said Gee-Gees head coach Jamie Barresi. "The thing that I'm most proud of is the fact that they were really fighting. It was close, the defence kept us in it, and the special teams made a play. We're not far away from being an explosive team again." Although his offence has yet to find the end zone against two strong defences, Barresi is optimistic about the play of his young quarterback.
"We're holding him back a little bit and despite my play calling, he managed to overcome," joked Barresi. "He did pretty well, I was proud of him." At the end of the game, team MVPs were named in the honour of former Gee-Gee and Gael Mike O'Connor who passed away tragically in 1995. For Ottawa, the MVP was running back Bryce Vieira and for Queen's, it was kicker Kurtis Schaefer.
The team will now have a short week of preparation before taking on the winless York Lions in Toronto on Saturday. They will take to the road again the following weekend and play McMaster before their next home game. As of now, the team will take their two unorthodox wins and try to build towards more well-rounded performances in the future. The pieces seem to be there for the Gee-Gees, they just need to figure out how to put it all together.
"The most important thing is this game coming up," said Barresi. "We can't be talking about Mac, or Windsor, or Carleton. This is the game right now, we need to focus on that and iron out a lot of the things we did."
Kickoff at York is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game will be live streamed on OUA.tv
Waterloo 52, York 8
Last week, rookie cornerback Tyrell Ford (Niagara Falls/) grabbed headlines as the Waterloo Warriors football team snapped a 16-game losing streak. This week, it was twin brother Tre's turn to steal the show in Waterloo's home opener.
Rookie quarterback Tre Ford (Niagara Falls/) rushed for 152 yards and 2 touchdowns, adding another 50 yards and a touchdown through the air, leading the Warriors to a 52-8 victory over the York Lions on Saturday afternoon at Warrior Field. The victory was Waterloo's first home triumph since a 48-29 win over the Windsor Lancers on October 20, 2012.
"That's what I expected when I came in," said Tre. "I wanted to turn the program around. Everybody is getting their job done, and I'm just trying to get mine done too."
The win – the first at home for Head Coach Chris Bertoia – moves the Warriors to 2-0 on the young season. Platooning at the pivot position with Ford, veteran Lucas McConnell (Waterford/) also had a spectacular day: the veteran went 10-16 for 140 yards and a touchdown pass, while also rushing for a 5-yard major.
Meanwhile, the Lions suffered their second straight lopsided defeat, as they fell to 0-2. Quarterback Brett Hunchak tossed for 233 yards on 14-28 passing, with a pair of interceptions. Receiver Adam Adeboboye was his favourite target, catching 9 balls for 173 yards, but the game was won on the ground – Waterloo outrushed York 274 yards to 47. The loss also ruined a prolific stat line from Lions defensive lineman Rossini Sandjong-Djabome, who registered a pair of sacks and 8 tackles – including five tackles in Waterloo's backfield.
While the Waterloo offense certainly fired on all cylinders, the Warriors defensive attack proved to be the difference. The Warriors held an opponent out of the end zone for the first time since a 12-0 loss to Laurier in 2012, and dating back to last week, Waterloo's opponents have not scored a major in six straight quarters.
"Our defence stood on its head today," said Bertoia. "How we stopped the run was fantastic. I'm really proud of our defensive effort."
The linebacking trio of Kurtis Gray (Waterloo/), Michael Reid (Sault Ste. Marie/), and Brandon Corelli (Sault Ste. Marie/)were a nightmare for the Lions to handle. They combined for 13.5 tackles, two pass breakups, and Corelli's third-quarter interception that turned the tables back in Waterloo's favour after the Lions had gained some momentum. Corelli returned the pick 45 yards, and two plays later, Ford ran it in from 21 yards to pad the Waterloo lead.
"It's a great feeling, I'm just happy for our guys," said Corelli. "We've worked hard for this for years."
Before Corelli's big play on defence, the Warriors used an explosive second quarter to seize control of the game. With a stiff westward wind at their backs in the opening frame, the Lions used advantageous field position to jump to a 6-0 lead – an advantage that would have been wider, had the Warriors defence not stepped up deep in their own territory to force a pair of field goal attempts.
"We have to credit our coaching staff," said Corelli. "They gave us a great gameplan, rallying to the football, and trying to get as many hats on the ball as we can. Its just bend, don't break for us. We bent, but we never broke."
When the field flipped in the second quarter, so, too, did the Warriors' offensive gear. Waterloo scored in all four second-quarter possessions, as a 9-yard Ford scamper and a 6-yard Ford-to-Blair McKay (Waterford/) pass sandwiched two Caleb Girard (Waterford/) field goals, giving the Warriors a 22-6 lead heading into the half.
The Warriors will now look to move to 3-0 for the first time since the 2007 season when they host the Toronto Varsity Blues for the annual Black and Gold Day, where thousands of Frosh will descend on Warrior Field. Kickoff is slated for 1pm on Saturday, September 9.
McMaster 23, Carleton 9
OTTAWA, ON – The Carleton Ravens football team played their first home game of the season at MNP Park, where they suffered a frustrating 23-9 loss at the hands of the McMaster Marauders.
The Marauders were first to put themselves on the board with a five-yard TD pass from first-year QB Andreas Dueck to Tommy Nield late in the first. A solid kick from Adam Preocanin for the extra point allowed McMaster to take a 7-0 lead – setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Carleton was quick to respond to McMaster's touchdown, just minutes later, with a two-point safety coming off a sack to Dueck from third-year Raven Frederik Robitaille(Terrebonne, QC) to make the game 7-2.
In the beginning of the second quarter, the Ravens were able to cut that deficit even more with a 21-yard field goal from Carleton's all-time career scoring leader Michael Domagala (St. Catharines, ON) to make it a two-point game at 7-5.
Unfortunately, the Ravens wouldn't see that two-point gap last very long.
On the Marauders' next drive, fourth-year Mitch O'Connor ran the ball to the end zone off a fumble recovery to advance McMasters lead by 6. Another good kick from Nield made it 14-5 in front of the hometown crowd. They added another two points on the scoreboard after sacking Carleton's rookie QB Michael Arruda (Gatineau, QC).
With less than a minute to go in the second, Carleton forced the Marauders to concede another safety to keep themselves in the game. However, while driving towards the 55-yard line with nearly 30 seconds left, McMaster's Robbie Yochim swallowed up a toss thrown by Arruda to score on a pick six. With yet another solid kick from Preocanin for the extra point, the Marauders were up 23-7 by halftime.
The latter half of the game, the Ravens really struggled to find an offensive groove and registered just another safety in the beginning of the fourth. Without picking up a single touchdown, Carleton dropped the ball 23-9.
McMaster is a team that the Ravens have long struggled with, now holding an 0-4 record against them in the program's modern era.
Carleton will look to move on from this loss at University Stadium in Waterloo against the Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday (Sept. 9) at 7 p.m.