In two games where something had to give Saturday, the York Lions won their first game of the season and the ranks of the undefeated fell by one in Ontario University Athletics football play.
At Waterloo, the Lions took an 18-point lead in the first half and hung on to defeat the similarly winless Waterloo Warriors 23-14. Meanwhile, in a battle of undefeated teams at Hamilton, the Guelph Gryphons scored 19 unanswered points in the second quarter, breaking open a tie game, on their way to a 33-23 win over the defending Yates Cup champion McMaster Marauders.
Elsewhere, in two games at Ottawa—where the city’s two teams played at home on the same day for the second time this year—the Carleton Ravens defeated the Toronto Blues 19-15 and the Ottawa Gee-Gees beat the Windsor Lancers 52-24. In London, the No. 3-ranked Western Mustangs got the best of the Queen’s Golden Gaels, 48-25 (http://www.sportkingston.ca/index.php/articles/view/3374.html).
Freshman Jesse Amankwaa, from Michael Power-St. Joseph high school in Toronto, rushed 24 times for 131 yards—almost double what he’d gained in his first three games—and scored both touchdowns for the Lions, on runs of nine and four yards.
Another freshman, quarterback Brett Hunchak of Calgary, completed 15 of 26 passes for 198 yards, but he threw three interceptions, two of them to Waterloo’s Christian Mahler, as York gained its first win since Sept. 21, 2013, when a 50-34 win over Carleton lifted the Lions to 2-2. Since then, York had lost 15 games in a row, most of them badly.
Warriors quarterback Lucas McConnell was 15-for-26 for 198 yards. In a game where Waterloo would possess the ball for less than 23 minutes, he also threw three interceptions, but touchdown passes of 93 yards, to Mitch Kernick on the final play of the third quarter, and 52 yards, to Liam Diing in the final minute of the game.
On a day when rain would wreak havoc with McMaster’s kicking game, Guelph took advantage to score twice in the final 2:10 of the first half. First, rookie Marauders punter Bobby Frame mishandled a snap and got off a weak punt, leading to the first of those scores, and then he failed to get the kick away at all the next time, and Guelph recovered on the Marauders’ three-yard line, from where the Gryphons scored one play later.
Guelph won despite generating just 274 yards of offence, partly thanks to two interceptions and two McMaster fumbles, but also because Guelph enjoyed an eight-yard advantage in terms of average length of punt, as Gabriel Ferraro outkicked a pair of McMaster rookies 36-28.
Playing before a Homecoming crowd, Guelph quarterback James Roberts, coming off a five-interception game a week ago, ran for one score and threw for two others to A’Dre Fraser. Despite playing with a cast to protect a bone in his left hand broken in the same game, Tristan Doughlin intercepted two passes for the Gryphons, his second and third of the year, and he was involved in a quarterback sack.
It was 32-9 before McMaster scored twice in the final seven minutes of the game.
Marauders quarterback Asher Hastings put the ball in the air 55 times. He completed 35 of them for 324 yards. Two of those throws went for touchdowns to Dan Petermann, who ended the game with 117 yards from 12 catches—most in a game by a receiver in the OUA this year.
At Ottawa, the Gee-Gees outscored the visiting Lancers 21-0 in the second quarter to break open a 16-3 game. Windsor made it a little more respectable with three touchdowns in the final period.
Rookie Lancers quarterback Liam Putt completed 24 of 41 passes for 376 yards and a touchdown, but he was outduelled by Ottawa’s Derek Wendel, who was 20-for-28 for 381 yards and five touchdowns. Neither pivot threw an interception.
Ian Stewart had eight catches for 188 yards for the Gee-Gees, matching the second-best receiving day, in terms of yardage, in the league this year. Lewis Ward was good on three of four field-goal attempts, from 48, 39 and 48 yards, while Sydenham High School product Ben Fisher caught two balls for 18 yards.
At Carleton, the Ravens scored 16 points in the second quarter to take control of a game that had been scoreless to that point, but it wasn’t until Michael Domagala kicked his fourth field goal of the game, from 29 yards with just 38 seconds left to be played, that they finally put the Varsity Blues away.
Toronto hung around in a game where it would generate just 235 yards of total offence—only 67 of them along the ground—in part due to the 20 penalties Carleton was caught committing. Those fouls gave the visitors 154 yards and six first downs.
It was a mediocre performance by both quarterbacks, as Toronto’s Simon Nassar completed just half of his 40 throws for 206 yards, while Jesse Mills of the Ravens was 21-for-36 for 283 yards.
Ex-Golden Gael Boris Isakov had seven catches for 89 yards and a touchdown for the Blues, while Carleton back Jahvari Bennett carried 18 times for 107 rushing yards.
This week begins with Western and fifth-ranked Guelph both 4-0, with Carleton, whose only loss this year came on Opening Day against Queen’s, in second place at 3-1. The Ravens, however, have yet to play a team this year with a record above .500.
Ottawa and McMaster are both 2-1, and Queen’s currently sits in the final playoff spot, in sixth place at 2-2.
On Saturday, it will be Homecoming at Western, where Carleton will visit. The other featured game will be played in Guelph, where the Gryphons will entertain Ottawa. As well, Windsor, 0-4, will play at Wilfrid Laurier, 1-2; York, 1-3, will play at McMaster, and Queen’s will renew the 128-year-old rivalry with the Varsity Blues, who are 1-2, at Toronto. Waterloo gets the week off.