In The Huddle: The home stretch

Photo by Toronto Varsity Blues
Photo by Toronto Varsity Blues

Burlington, Ont. (by Mike Hogan) - The 2019 OUA season has come down to two or three regular-season games. Most fans keep a close eye on their own program, while maybe not noticing what the other teams are up to.

In The Huddle thought it was a good time to break down where teams stand at this pivotal point of the season.

WESTERN (6-0): The Mustangs are still the team to beat in the conference. Guelph, and to a lesser degree McMaster, are the only teams to really challenge the ‘Stangs so far this season. They’ve won their games by an average score of 36-18. Western finishes the season with home games against two tough opponents. The Yates Cup still goes through London, and a win this week over Waterloo will clinch home field throughout the playoffs.

Remaining Games: Waterloo, Bye, Ottawa

McMASTER (4-1): The return of Stefan Ptaszek has been nothing but a positive for the Marauders. The offence has scored almost as many points in five games as it did in eight last year, and the emergence of Andreas Dueck as a top-tier quarterback has been a fantastic story. The stretch drive won’t be easy, as Mac faces two teams who are fighting for their playoff lives, then closes out against the dangerous Waterloo Warriors.

Remaining Games: @Toronto, @Carleton, Waterloo

WATERLOO (4-1): The season has gone as most had expected. The offence has been dynamic, the defence hasn’t been, and the team has been able to outscore its opponents more often than not. Running back Dion Pellerin’s play has taken pressure off the passing game and the legs of QB Tre Ford. The Warriors face three tough games down the stretch, which will provide great preparation for the playoffs.

Remaining Games: @Western, Laurier, @McMaster

GUELPH (4-2): Arguably the OUA’s best defence (Laurier? Western? Mac?) has been the catalyst for the Gryphons. They’ve allowed just 15 points against per game, piled up 23 sacks, and gave the Mustangs their toughest test just a couple of weeks ago, a 9-6 Western win at Guelph. This is a team that won’t be fun to play in the postseason.

Remaining Games: Bye, @Queen’s, @Toronto

OTTAWA (3-2): Happy Panda week! Close to 27,000 will be on hand for the highlight of the university football calendar. The Gee-Gees are still trying to recover from the loss of starting quarterback Sawyer Buettner in the game against McMaster. Ben Maracle has looked good at times, but is still inexperienced. Ottawa is the best team in the conference in the red zone, scoring TDs on 79% of their opportunities. This week’s game is huge in terms of playoff ramifications.

Remaining Games: Carleton, Windsor, @Western

TORONTO (2-3): Perhaps the biggest surprise of the U SPORTS season has been the stellar play of Toronto’s offence, which averages 35 points per game. Clay Sequeira continues to lead the country in passing, averaging 392 yards per game, and with 20 TD passes, nine more than three other QBs. Nolan Lovegrove and Will Corby are the only two receivers in the OUA averaging over 100 yards per game. Losses to Queen’s and Carleton in their past two outings could prove to hurt them in terms of earning a playoff spot.

Remaining Games: McMaster, @York, Guelph

CARLETON (2-3): The Ravens have been a tough team to figure out. They seem to move the ball well, the passing game is particularly effective behind QB Tanner DeJong, their red zone efficiency is good, but they can’t seem to score like they should. They’re to the point that they will have to pull off an upset to grab a playoff spot. This week’s Panda Game is vital to their postseason hopes, as their last two games will also be tough.

Remaining Games: @Ottawa, McMaster, @Laurier

LAURIER (2-3): The Hawks are hoping to finish strong after an unexpected 1-3 start. Levondre Gordon is second in the country in rushing, while the defence has allowed just 288 yards against per game, by far the lowest in the OUA. They may need to run the table to avoid a tie-breaker at the end of the season, but they’re definitely capable of doing that.

Remaining Games: @Windsor, @Waterloo, Carleton

QUEEN’S (2-4): It looked like the Gaels had turned the corner before they were humbled last week at Laurier. Back-to-back wins after starting the season 0-3 gave the team a reason to start thinking playoffs, but they’ll need to upset Guelph next week to have a chance at a postseason berth. Queen’s is second in the conference with 19 sacks. Both of their remaining games are at home.

Remaining Games: Bye, Guelph, York

WINDSOR (1-5): The Lancers looked great in their season opener against York but haven’t found the win column since. They had chances to beat both Waterloo and Queen’s, but ended up dropping both. Sam Girard has averaged 300 yards per game passing and is tied for second in the conference with 11 touchdown passes. Daniel Metcalfe has racked up 44.5 tackles on the year, good enough for best in the OUA.

Remaining Games: Laurier, @Ottawa, Bye

YORK (0-6): It’s been a long season for the Lions, starting Week One at Windsor. The defence has been okay in some areas, limiting teams to fewer than 400 total yards per game, which is in the top half of the OUA, but they’ve managed to allow 39 points per game. The offence has struggled all season, and they’ve never been able to establish a running game; a lot of that due to them playing from behind more often than not. They’ll host Toronto in the annual Red & Blue Bowl on October 11.

Remaining Games: Bye, Toronto, @Queen’s.

THE O-ZONE:

CARLETON 29, TORONTO 19

The Ravens took a huge step toward a playoff spot with a win over the resurgent Blues. While the Ravens only rushed for 144 yards, they did score three times on the ground, with Nathan Carter punching it in twice. He was the team’s leading rusher with 69 yards. Tanner DeJong passed for 385 yards, 150 of those to Quinton Soares. Toronto’s Clay Sequeira had what has become an average day for him, 358 yards with three TDs. Will Corby caught seven passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. Matt Renaud had 10 tackles for Varsity, while the Ravens Jack Cassar had two sacks and as many tackles for loss. Carleton sacked Sequeira five times. The Blues took 152 yards in penalties.

LAURIER 52, QUEEN’S 16

It was a happy Homecoming for the Hawks, who used a 24-point second quarter to break open a close game. Will Amoah’s 37-yard pick-six was the highlight of that quarter. Levondre Gordon added to his conference lead with 119 yards on the ground, while Connor Carusello threw for 244 yards and a couple of TDs. The Gaels biggest play was a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Ben Arhen late in the first half to cut the lead to 32-10. Laurier held Queen’s to just 209 total yards. Sam Acheampong had two sacks and two TFLs for the Hawks.

GUELPH 33, OTTAWA 6

The Gryphons held Ottawa to just 109 yards of offence, intercepting Ben Maracle four times en route to a decisive win over the Gee-Gees. Ottawa threw for just 69 net yards in the game. Graham Brodie had two interceptions for Guelph, including a 65-yarder for a touchdown. Theo Landers threw for 274 yards and led the Gryphons with 62 yards rushing. Kian Schaffer-Baker caught six passes for 125 yards and a pair of TDs. The teams combined for 380 penalty yards.

WESTERN 58, WINDSOR 25

The Mustangs continued their quest for another perfect OUA season with a one-sided win at Windsor. The Mustangs have not lost to a conference opponent since the 2016 Yates Cup final. Chris Merchant passed for 340 yards and four TDs. His leading target was Malik Besseghieur, who caught six passes for 112 yards. Sam Girard had a pretty good day for the Lancers, going 26/35 for 396 yards and two TDs with no interceptions. Matthew James had a big day for Windsor with seven catches for 180 yards and a TD. The Lancers led 17-13 late in the first half before the Mustangs blew it open in the second. This was Windsor head Coach J-P Circelli’s first game against his former team.

WATERLOO 57, YORK 19

Tre Ford passed for three TDs, while Dion Pellerin rushed for 155 yards and three scores as the Warriors routed York. Tyler Ternowski finished with an even 100 receiving yards, just the second time he’s hit the century mark this year, adding a pair of touchdowns to his final line. Rossini Sandjong had a sack, two TFLs, and forced a fumble for York. The Warriors picked off Noah Craney three times.

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