LONDON, Ont. – The Western Mustangs got off to a fast start and never looked back on Saturday, scoring 35 points in the first 15 minutes en route to a 75-14 win over the Waterloo Warriors at TD Stadium.
"It was good. They pushed it a little bit. We got a lot of young running backs in and we got a lot of guys rested," said Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall. "We came out with a win and we allowed a lot of our guys, you know, a few of our guys have only played two series so it was good that way."
The Mustangs offence was nothing less than dominant on Saturday, racking up 749 yards and averaging 8.7 yards per play.
Chris Merchant got the start against the Warriors and completed 16 of 18 passes for 258 yards with four touchdowns. Merchant eventually gave way to Stevenson Bone, who finished 4-9 for 59 yards before an injury forced him to leave the game. Ben Bergamin saw playing time in the second half, going 6-10 with 69 yards, as well as one rushing touchdown.
"Everybody is getting on the same page," said Merchant after the win, "Everyone is clicking – the receivers, running backs, o-line. I think it showed today."
After Malcolm Brown forced and recovered a fumble to end the Warriors game-opening drive, the Mustangs didn't wait long before taking advantage of their good field position with Merchant hitting George Johnson with a 27-yard touchdown pass on Western's first play from scrimmage.
"Whenever you come out you want to strike quick and take the lead," said Merchant, "[George] ran a great route, he was open and it was an easy throw."
The offensive onslaught continued with a 38-yard touchdown run by Taylor the next time the Mustangs had the ball. Taylor's OUA-leading fifth rushing touchdown of the season made the score 14-0 with 6:09 gone in the first quarter.
Western didn't let up from there, picking up two points off of a conceded safety and then scoring on their next two drives, with Merchant finding Myles Rombough on a 75-yard touchdown pass and then connecting with Johnson for their second score of the day, this one from 35-yards out.
"I saw [Rombough] open and also saw the blitz coming so I knew I had to get rid of it quick," said Merchant. "I put it up for him and he made a great play by letting his legs do the rest."
Following that outburst, the Mustangs added a safety and tacked on a field goal from Marc Liegghio to close out the first quarter up 35-0.
Western continued to roll early in the second quarter, scoring on their first drive of the frame on a three-yard run from Cedric Joseph.
Following Joseph's run the Mustangs added more points via a field goal and single from Liegghio and another safety before the Warriors got on the board with their first touchdown of the day.
With 13 minutes gone in the second quarter Lucas McConnell engineered a four-play, 50-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a two-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Metz that set the scoreboard at 48-7 in favour of the Mustangs heading into halftime.
The highlight for the Mustangs in the second half was the emergence of first-year running back Trey Humes. Humes was given an opportunity to take the bulk of the touches in the second half, and he did not disappoint, running for 94 yards on 13 attempts and adding his first CIS touchdown.
"It felt great," said Humes, "Just getting the rock and running behind these linemen."
"It was nerve-racking at first when I knew my number was being called but once I got the rock it just felt like practice," he said, "Everything we've been doing has helped prepare us for the game so I was pretty confident when I had it in my hands."
Along with Humes' major, Western added two other touchdowns in the second half. Merchant provided his fourth and final throwing score, a seven yard throw to running back Anthony Joyal that represented the Quebec native's first career CIS touchdown. Bergamin picked up a rushing touchdown on a one-yard dive, while Liegghio rounded out the scoring with a pair of field goals.
Despite Western's offence continuing to score the Warriors weren't left of the board in the final 30 minutes, as McConnell connected with Tyler Ternowski for an 85-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.
The win leaves the Mustangs 2-1 after three weeks of OUA action as they look forward to their visit to Queen's next week.
"You look at our next five weeks and we're into it," said Marshall. "We've got good solid teams and no breaks in our schedule. Queen's, Guelph, Laurier, it's going to be a good test. I think after three games in, I think we were tested last week, we've got enough reps.
"We'll get guys back in healthy like Jamal Kett and Matt Van Praet – all the guys we rested today. And a couple guys like [David] Mackie are coming back, our long snapper. So we'll be ready. We'll be ready."
Western's contest with the Gaels is set for Saturday, September 17, in the first game at the new Richardson Stadium in Kingston. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m, and can be seen live across Canada on City. Fans can also tune in on CHRW Radio 94.9 FM and Newstalk 1290 CJBK.
Source: Western Mustangs