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McMaster hands Western first defeat; Queen's officially eliminated from playoff picture
Posted: October 4th, 2014 @ 10:15pm
As the door opened for the contending football teams in Ontario University Athletics Saturday, it closed for good on the Queen's Golden Gaels.
In a match of undefeated teams in London, Marshall Ferguson threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Max Cameron in the final minute of the game to give the McMaster Marauders a 32-29 win over the No. 3-ranked Western Mustangs.
Western's loss drops the Mustangs into a four-team logjam in second place at 4-1, and makes the race for the first-round playoff bye interesting, in that Western's remaining games are against the three teams with which it is tied.
For Queen's, the slim mathematical playoff possibility vanished as Laurier, Guelph and Ottawa all won their games, giving them each four wins this year. In all, there are now six teams with four wins or better in the OUA and the best Queen's can do is finish 3-5.
In other games Saturday, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks got a surprisingly strong challenge in a 27-10 victory over the York Lions; the Guelph Gryphons defeated the Windsor Lancers 24-9; a record-breaking performance by quarterback Simon Nassar wasn't enough to prevent the Toronto Blues from bowing 53-32 to the Carleton Ravens, and Ottawa continues to be a wasteland for the Waterloo Warriors, who were beaten 51-10 by the Gee-Gees.
Western led 17-15 at halftime and the game was tied 22-22 going into the fourth quarter in London. Tyler Crapigna kicked a field goal early in the fourth quarter for McMaster, 6-0, but the Mustangs took the lead at 9:27 when backup quarterback Stevenson Bone connected with Shaquille Johnson for an 18-yard touchdown.
Will Finch, back in the game for the Mustangs as they were driving for an insurance score in the final two minutes, was intercepted by McMaster's Zachary Ismael, setting up the Marauders for a drive that ended with the game-winning score.
Ferguson, the Frontenac Secondary School grad, finished the game 30-52 for a season-best 351 yards and three touchdowns, allowing his team to prevail despite the fact the Marauders managed just 86 yards rushing. Kingston's Ben O'Connor caught five balls for McMaster, for 77 yards.
Finch completed 20 of 29 passes for 279 yards. He was also his team's top rusher with 86 yards, in no small part because he spent a good part of the day on the run from a relentless McMaster defence. The Marauders sacked the quarterback six times and caused two Western fumbles.
Johnson, the 2012 national rookie of the year, caught seven passes for 137 yards.
It was a rude introduction to the first division for Western, which allowed more points Saturday than it had in its previous four games combined. The Mustangs had beaten up York, Queen's, Toronto and Waterloo-teams with a combined record of 1-22-235-30.
Crapigna's second field goal of the game, a 20-yarder late in the second quarter, was the 78th of his career and broke the Canadian intercollegiate lifetime record for field goals set last year by Western's Lirim Hajrullahu.
Crapigna, who has never missed a convert attempt and is McMaster's all-time scoring leader, is 79-for-92 (.859) lifetime. To break the record, he needed to have a career year, since began the season 18 field goals behind Hajrullahu and had he never kicked more than that in any year.
Next in sight for Crapigna is the Canadian Interuniversity Sport record, 82, set by Sherbrooke's William Dion, 2008-12.
With only 806 fans on hand on a rainy day in Waterloo, the Hawks led just 10-7 at halftime and 13-10 midway through the fourth quarter against a York team that had been outscored 266-12 in losing its first five games of the year.
It wasn't until Dillon Campbell scored two touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the game, one of them on a run of 71 yards, that the Hawks finally put the game away.
Campbell, who also had a 60-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau with a 171-yard day that was generated by 22 carries. With 1,021 yards, an average of 204 yards per game, Campbell became just the fifth Laurier football player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
His performance enabled the Hawks to win despite a mediocre day by quarterback James Fracas, who threw for just 95 yards on a day when he was 13-for-24.
Jahmari Bennett completed 14 of 27 passes for 255 yards and no interceptions for York. He also rushed 16 times for a team-best 62 yards in his first complete game of the year. The second-year religious studies student, who began his intercollegiate career at St. Francis Xavier, had completed just nine passes in parts of three games before Saturday.
Mahlique Marks caught six passes for the Lions for 112 yards, the longest play an 81-yard catch that nonetheless failed to result in York's first touchdown of the year. The Lions got their points from three field goals and a rouge by Nick Naylor, who comes from the same high school, W.J. Mouat in Abbotsford, B.C., that produced former Queen's kicker Dan Village.
Naylor is the only player to have scored a point for York this year.
At Windsor, Guelph won though the Lancers gained more yards, 365-271, thanks in part to a defence that sacked quarterback Austin Kennedy four times and picked off three of his passes.
Each team managed just one touchdown in the game, as Guelph got five field goals from Daniel Ferraro, the longest from 32 yards. Tarrence Crawford rushed 26 times for Windsor for 128 yards and a touchdown, as Evan Pszczonak, with 100-yards receiving in each of previous games this year, was held to just four catches for 56 yards.
Waterloo failed to score a touchdown for the third visit in a row to the nation's capital, this time despite 368 yards of total offence, which included just 22 yards rushing.
The Gee-Gees led 17-0 after the first quarter and they put the game away with 28 points in the second. Corbin Maxwell's 51-yard interception return for a touchdown with 70 seconds left in the first half turned the game into a rout.
Derek Wendel, the former Kingston Grenadiers quarterback, was 11-for-15 for 288 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for Ottawa. Ian Stewart caught six of those passes for 130 yards for the Gee-Gees while Bryce Vieira rushed for 99 yards and a pair of Ottawa touchdowns.
Down the road at Carleton, Nassar completed 49 of 62 passes for 548 yards, breaking former Varsity Blues quarterback Dan Feraday's Canadian Interuniversity Sport record of 41 completions, set Oct. 17, 1981. He also surpassed Feraday's school record of 546 yards, set the same day, and posted the best passing day this year in the OUA.
Nassar was helped in his record-breaking pursuit by three receivers who had career-best days: Sophomore Llevi Noel, who had 12 catches for 200 yards, Kevin Bradfield (14 catches, 154 yards) and Domenic Battistella (11 catches, 117 yards).
Playing at home, the Ravens led 23-7 late in the first half when they scored touchdowns 22 seconds apart to break the game open. First, Nathaniel Behar caught a 76-yard touchdown pass from fellow receiver Kyle Van Wynsberghe, and then Emilio Gallotta took a fumble recovery 13 yards for another TD.
Jahvari Bennett rushed 20 times for 145 yards for Carleton.
Next week, Laurier, 4-1, visits Western, also 4-1, on Thursday night and two Friday night games will pit Ottawa, 4-2, against host Windsor, 4-1 and visiting Carleton, 3-2, against Guelph, 4-1. Saturday, Queen's, 0-5, will play its first home game in four weeks when it hosts Toronto, 1-5.
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