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Ottawa posts quarter-final upset; Western narrowly avoids one
Posted: November 2nd, 2014 @ 4:56pm
For three quarters of the football game Saturday, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks had an upset within their grasp.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, a splendid defensive performance couldn't be matched by their offence, and they eventually succumbed 25-10 to the Western Mustangs in an Ontario University Athletics quarter-final in London.
The Mustangs will advance to meet the Guelph Gryphons in a Yates Cup semfinal game Saturday in Guelph. In the other semifinal, the Ottawa Gee-Gees will visit the McMaster Marauders. The Gee-Gees thumped the Windsor Lancers 46-29 in Saturday's other quarter-final match.
Laurier, which allowed 61 points-the most in school history-the last time it played Western, took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and led 10-7 at halftime. Western tied the game on a Zach Medeiros field goal early in the third quarter and the Mustangs went ahead for the first time in the game when Laurier surrendered a go-ahead safety in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
(The football gods must frown on such a practice: Guelph gave Queen's the lead with a second-half safety in its semifinal game last year and lost, and Queen's gave up a go-ahead safety against Western this year-and lost.)
Medeiros kicked two more field goals but Western's lead was just eight points when Laurier's Ronnie Pfeffer shanked a punt with about four minutes left in the game. A no-yards penalty gave the Mustangs the football on the Laurier 42-yard line and on the fifth straight rush by Western back Yannick Harou, this one for two yards, the Mustangs finally had their first touchdown of the game, in its 57th minute.
It was a generally poor performance by both offences. Though the Mustangs gained 415 total yards, quarterback Stevenson Bone-playing in place of the concussed Will Finch-threw two interceptions and was sacked five times. Laurier made five other tackles behind the line of scrimmage as they held Western to 27 points below its season average.
The Hawks, meanwhile, mustered just 165 yards, and they had only 11 first downs. Quarterback James Fracas completed seven of 20 passes for a measly 36 yards. He was also intercepted twice.
Harou finished the game with 162 yards rushing. Laurier's Dillon Campbell, the nation's leading rusher, had his eighth 100-yard game of the season. He carried the ball on 25 of his team's 56 offensive plays, for 142 yards.
At Windsor, where the Gee-Gees lost 39-29 three weeks ago-thereby earning themselves their second 11-hour bus ride of the season-Ottawa struck quickly and the Lancers were never able to catch up. It was the Gee-Gees' fourth win in their last five games, and the second week in a row they defeated a team with a better record.
After Mitchell Baines caught a 10-yard Derek Wendel pass for a touchdown nine minutes into the game, Bayridge Secondary School grad Lewis Ward executed a successful short kickoff that gave Ottawa the football at the Windsor 47-yard line.
Wendel, the former Kingston Grenadier, completed three straight passes before Bryce Vieira scored Ottawa's second touchdown in a little more than two minutes, on a 24-yard run.
Ottawa's biggest lead was 21 points, after Wendel scored on a four-yard run midway through the third quarter, but Windsor got back to 39-29 when Matt Guyer of the Lancers returned a fumble recovery 70 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Windsor had the football four times after that, but turned it over on downs each time. A 66-yard punt by Domenic Bellardini turned field position around after the Lancers failed on third-and-10 from the Ottawa 27 with about seven minutes to play. The Lancers never got past their own 44-yard line after that.
Wendel completed 28 of his 40 passes for 264 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions to get the best of Windsor's Austin Kennedy, who was 21-for-41 for 206 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Kennedy, who was sacked four times in the game, completed just three of his last 11 attempts in the fourth quarter.
Ian Stewart caught 11 passes for Ottawa for 107 yards. Ben Fisher, the Sydenham High School grad, caught a career-best seven balls for 97 yards. Ward was good on all three of his field-goal attempts.
Vieira carried 14 times for 98 yards and two touchdowns, but he also was guilty of a fumble that was returned by Windsor's Austin Crumb 78 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter that briefly drew the Lancers to within 27-16.
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