The top teams continued to win and the playoff picture came into surprisingly sharp focus for just the fifth week of the Ontario University Athletics football schedule Saturday.
The No. 3-ranked Western Mustangs had their way with the Carleton Ravens, sending a Homecoming crowd of 10,291 home happy, savoring a 70-14 victory in London. In Guelph, the fifth-ranked Gryphons kept pace with Western by winning their fifth-straight game, 48-26 over the No. 9-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees.
Elsewhere Saturday, the Windsor Lancers gained their first win of the year, upsetting the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks 22-18; the seventh-ranked McMaster Marauderds thumped the York Lions 67-10 and the Queen’s Golden Gaels defeated the Varsity Blues in Toronto, 37-18 (http://www.sportkingston.ca/index.php/articles/view/3384.html).
The outcomes leave a logjam in the quest for third and fourth place, and the home playoff game that goes with them, but they also go a long way to determining which teams will be in the post-season tournament.
McMaster, at 3-1, both Carleton and Queen’s, at 3-2, and Ottawa, now 2-2, have a leg up thanks to Laurier’s loss. That’s because none of the other five teams has more than one victory, and with just four weeks left in the season, it would take a couple of wins against teams ahead of them in the standings for any of them to make it to 4-4, the minimum record that could qualify a team for the playoffs.
Two teams not worrying about their spot in the playoffs are Western and Guelph, and when it came to their game Saturday, the Gryphons didn’t have to worry much about the result after the first quarter, when they scored 28 unanswered points against Ottawa. The Gee-Gees never got closer than three touchdowns after that.
In a game where Guelph would narrowly have more yards of offence, 529-512, the quarterbacks went wild. James Roberts of the Gryphons completed 25 of 35 attempts to 10 different receivers for a career-best 391 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Derek Wendel of the Gee-Gees was 31-for-55 for 471 yards—the best single-game performance in terms of yardage in the league this year—and three touchdowns.
Jacob Scarfone had seven catches for 122 yards for Guelph. He scored two touchdowns. Johnny Augustine carried 21 times for 102 yards on the ground.
Ian Stewart and Mitchell Baines each had 113 yards receiving for Ottawa, with Stewart scoring two touchdowns and Baines one. Sydenham High School grad Ben Fisher had five catches for 80 yards.
In London, the Mustangs apparently didn’t care much for Carleton spoiling their shutout. After the Ravens scored to cut their deficit to 17-7 two minutes into the second quarter, Western proceeded to score four touchdowns and 31 points before halftime to turn the game into a rout.
Western had 765 yards of offence, divided among eight different rushers and nine receivers. Will Finch was 20-for-33 for 350 yards and four touchdowns, two of them to Tom Marshall. Alex Taylor rushed 13 times for 108 yards, his fourth 100-yard game this year. He also scored two touchdowns.
Carleton’s Wilson Birch, who had just five catches this year and missed the Ravens’ last game, had nine receptions for 126 yards, both career bests.
The 17-7 deficit also proved to be troublesome for York at McMaster. After rookie quarterback Brett Hunchak completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Dunaway late in the first quarter to put the Lions within 10 points of the lead, the Marauders scored twice to take a 31-10 lead into the halftime break.
Touchdowns by Dan Petermann and Max Cameron, both on passes from Asher Hastings, less than two minutes apart in the middle of the third quarter, essentially put the game away for the Marauders.
Playing before a Homecoming crowd of 5,427, Hastings finished the game 20-for-25 for 306 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Dan Vandervoort had six catches for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns for McMaster.
Jordan Lyons, a freshman from Burlington Assumption listed on the Marauders’ roster as a defensive back, rushed 11 times for 82 yards in his first game carrying the ball for McMaster, while Frontenac Secondary School grad Mitch O’Connor caught three balls for 38 yards.
In the one game where Homecoming wasn’t a happy occasion, Windsor got its first win of the year despite just 195 yards of offence, largely due to some sketchy play by the Golden Hawks, who took 20 penalties that gave Windsor 166 yards and five first downs.
The most damaging of those penalties was one for unnecessary roughness that put the Lancers first-and-goal from the Laurier one-yard line with about five minutes left in the game. Windsor’s Tarrance Crawford carried over on the next play for what proved to be the game-winning score, his second touchdown of the game.
Playing before 6,717 alumni and fans, Laurier had the lead in the game five times, and each time the Hawks were unable to prevent Windsor from regaining it. Laurier has now lost its last four games with the Lancers, by a total of 11 points.
Dillon Campbell had 118 yards rushing and Eric Guiltinan 95 yards for Laurier, as quarterback Eric Morelli was 16-for-28 for just 136 yards. Freshman Liam Putt gained his first intercollegiate win for the Lancers, though he completed just nine of 26 passes.
The regional rivalries take centre stage next Saturday, as Laurier, 1-3, visits Waterloo, 0-4; York, 1-3, hosts Toronto, also 1-3, and Ottawa entertains Carleton in the Panda Game. Elsewhere, Guelph plays at Queen's and McMaster travels to Windsor, as Western gets the week off.