Guelph 29 – 8 Ottawa
The Guelph Gryphons football team entered the postseason as one of the hottest teams in Canadian university football. The Gryphons went 5-1 in the final six games – and that momentum continued Saturday in their second trip to the nation's capital in eight days. Guelph stormed out of the gate and soundly beat Ottawa 30-8 in an OUA quarter-final at Gee-Gees Field Saturday afternoon.
The No. 5-seeded Gryphons earned a semi-final berth at No. 1 Western next week, the site of their 2015 Yates Cup win. Guelph lost the 2017 season opener to Ottawa 24-21 in double overtime at Alumni Stadium. But the script was different in the rematch as they took control of the playoff game immediately scoring the first 20 points.
"We're the more veteran team and we played like it," head coach Kevin MacNeill said after the game. "The guys did a great job. We controlled the ball and managed the clock well."
Fourth-year quarterback James Roberts returned to action and completed 10 of 19 passes, for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Scarfone (five catches for 83 yards) and Jordan Terrio (two grabs for 41 yards) were on the receiving end of the two scores, while fifth-year running back Johnny Augustine was a workhorse again, carrying the ball 21 times for 151 yards.
Gabriel Ferraro, who set the U SPORTS single-season field goal record last week with 33, while also tying the OUA single-game mark of seven made against Carleton, was good on five of six attempts. The fourth-year Mississauga, ON native hit from 18, 22, 19, 23, and 47 yards out.
Roberts had not played since leaving with an injury in Guelph's Homecoming game against McMaster on Sept. 23. But he showed little rust, orchestrating early drives well. Guelph did work in third-year backup Theodore Landers, who started the last three games of the regular season, all wins. The Maple Ridge, BC native chipped in 67 rushing yards on seven attempts.
"It was great having James back," said MacNeill. "He didn't miss a beat, and showed excellent control of the offence. We were able to put in Theo, as well. Having the combination of the two of them was exactly what we wanted to do today."
There wasn't much doubt about the outcome with the Gryphons producing one of their best performances of the season. But the Gee-Gees did have a couple chances to get back in the game in the fourth quarter. At 29-8, Ottawa was deep in Guelph territory and went for it on third down, only to be denied by a timely Alain Cimankinda sack. On another possession later in the fourth, the Gee-Gees faked a field goal attempt but Guelph defenders swarmed the ball carrier before reaching the first-down marker to kill the drive.
On the change of possession, Guelph began handing off to Augustine, who gained big chunks on the ground late. He had entered the game with at least 100 yards on the ground (404 in total) in the last three games of the regular season.
The experienced Gryphons defence was stellar. They demoralized the Ottawa offence, limiting rookie quarterback Alex Lavric to 118 passing yards. Veteran running back Bryce Viera led all Gee-Gees rushers with 38 yards and the hosts had just 278 yards of total offence.
Guelph's unit was led by the linebacking tandem of Job Reinhart and Luke Korol. The fourth-year Korol had two of the team's six sacks on the day to go with 7.5 tackles, while Reinhart, a third-year Guelph native, led all players with eight solo tackles.
"The defence balled out," said MacNeill. "They did a tremendous job of shutting Ottawa down."
The Gryphons came out flying and built a 20-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. Ferraro got the hosts on the board with a short 18-yard field goal at 11:23. Guelph has showed an ability to strike for huge plays all season long and the visitors stretched the lead to 10-0 when Roberts found Scarfone from 31 yards out. It was an incredible, over-the-shoulder catch from the talented receiver, who made an adjustment to haul in the pass at 5:06.
Just over a minute later, Ferraro booted his second field goal of the quarter, this time from 22 yards. And with just 31 seconds left in the first, Roberts hit Terrio for a 10-yard touchdown, a tough blow for an Ottawa team that was trying to stop the bleeding. Guelph finishedthe opening 15 minutes with 180 yards of offence and 10 first downs.
The Gee-Gees finally put up some points when Lewis Ward hit a 22-yard field goal early in the second quarter. After Ferraro added his third of the day, this time from 19 yards out, Ward would make another 18-yarder to get Ottawa within 17 before halftime at 23-6. But the hosts could not string any offence together and went down quietly.
Guelph is eager to keep its run going. The Gryphons know it will be a challenge against the powerhouse Mustangs.
"Every game will be a battle here on out," said MacNeill. "They're one of the best teams in the country and we'll have to be at our best."
McMaster 12 – 9 Queen’s
The No. 7 McMaster Marauders outlasted the Queen's Gaels for a 12-9 OUA quarterfinal football win Saturday at Ron Joyce Stadium.
Jordan Lyons of Burlington, Ont. tied an OUA playoff record for carries, registering 39 and rushing for 319 yards. That mark was also the second most all-time in a playoff game in Canadian University football history.
McMaster put up all of their points in the opening half, and then relied on their defence to hold on for the victory, as Queen`s posted three field goals in the second half with multiple opportunities to strike.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED:
McMaster`s Eric Blake (Hamilton) intercepted Queen`s quarterback Nate Hobbs of Mississauga, Ont., with 1:20 remaining in the game, essentially sealing the result. The Gaels, who had been hanging around with good field position in the fourth quarter, were driving down the field after getting the ball back on the 55-yard line. Four plays later, Blake picked off Hobbs at the 35-yard line and returned the ball six yards.
That interception allowed McMaster to wind the clock down to three seconds left on the clock setting up Queen`s desperation pass which fell incomplete to end the game.
ONE FOR THE AGES:
Lyons' 319 rushing yards and 39 carry performance ranks as one of the best single-game performances in Canadian university football's history. His 39 carries ties Dillon Campbell (Laurier) for most carries in an OUA playoff game (against McMaster in 2015). The 319 yards is the second-most yards rushed for in a playoff game, just eight yards short of Davie Mason (Ottawa), who posted 327 against Guelph in 2008. It also ranks as 11th all time (playoffs & regular season) in Canada.
McMaster alumnus, Jesse Lumsden holds the school record for most rushing yards in a single game, finishing with 344 vs. Waterloo back on Sept. 11, 2004. Lyons' performance was just 25 yards shy of that mark.
POINTS AT A PREMIUM:
Veteran receiver Dan Petermann of Stoney Creek, Ont., hauled in a 24-yard pass from Jackson White of Cambridge, Ont. to record the game's only touchdown, giving the Marauders a 7-0 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Burlington, Ont.'s Adam Preocanin chipped in a 12-yard field goal with the defence adding a safety to make the score 12-0 at the half.
Queen`s Nick Liberatore of Dartmouth, NS., kicked three field goals (27, 30 and 33 yards) to round out the game's scoring at 12-9. He tallied two of his kicks in the third quarter.
Liberatore had a fourth field goal set up, which would have tied the game, but hit the left upright for a missed attempt.
BEND DON'T BREAK:
Queen`s stuck around the entire game, and looked at times like they would break the McMaster defence for a big play. Blake`s interception, along with a sack by veteran defensive end Mark Mackie of London, Ont., late in the game, snuffed out key late drives by the Gaels. Blake, playing in his second game of the season, also had five total tackles. Hassan Barry of Cambridge, Ont., led the team with six. Will Hudson of Oakville, Ont., and Jake Heathcote of Hamilton both had two pass break ups, with four others contributing one.
Queen`s Hobbs finished the game with a game high 227 yards passing, completing 18 of 47 attempts while his McMaster counterpart was 12 for 26 for 154 yards and a touchdown strike to Petermann. Both quarterbacks had an interception.
Petermann posted the game's only touchdown, tallying 62 yards, with 51 coming in the opening half. Chris Osei-Kus of Brampton, Ont., was the game's top receiver, hauling in 105 yards in the loss.
Queen`s Jake Puskas of Thunder Bay, Ont., had 10 carries for 49 yards.
LOOK SMART WITH FRIENDS:
Lyons 319 yards were a career high for the second year running back. His previous high came earlier this year when he collected 176 yards against the York Lions back on September 30. Lyons surpassed his career high total late in the second quarter against Queen's, putting up 197 yards in the first half alone. He also earned his career high total in an unusual way. Sitting at 165 yards, Lyons would pick up 12 yards for his career high, but ended up fumbling the ball in the process.