Guelph won a playoff game for the second consecutive year. Mind you it was only a quarter-final but Guelph hasn’t won playoff games in consecutive years since who knows when. The 1990s I would guess. Mind you, it wasn’t a thing of beauty but it does set the Gryphons up for a rematch in Kingston with the Golden Gaels.
As for the Windsor Lancers, I thought their coaches had them pretty well prepared. Their O-Line did a much better job than in Game 2 as a quick look at the sack numbers would reveal – just 3 sacks compared to 10 back on Labour Day. But the Lancers still couldn’t generate much push up front when they tried to run the ball – 65 net rushing yards and 87 in the first matchup. On defense the Lancers clearly were committed to stopping the run. In spite of the numbers [203 net rushing yards for Guelph] they were partially successful. Mixed in between repeated 6, 10 and 23 yard gains were rushes for -1, -4, 0, -6, 0, -1, -1, -2 & -4. That doesn’t reflect badly on the effort we got from our O-Line in my opinion.
When the opposing D’s #1 priority is stopping the run and you pound out 203 yards on the ground, your OLs are winning the majority of the battles. And, at points in the game Cam Thorn, Jake Piotrowski and Kyle Fraser were all banged up and missed plays. Lucas Meschino, Cody O’Neill and Matt Toppan picked up the slack with solid contributions. RG Cam Wilhelm ended up finishing the game at RT. Gryphon fans should be thankful for the solid play of Centre Matt Nesbitt who was a guard for the first two & a half years of his Guelph career. You only had to see Windsor’s struggles with low and inconsistent snaps to appreciate the solid play we’ve received from Nesbitt, and before his injury, O’Neill.
* * *
We still didn’t get the “complete game” we have been waiting for. But our offense’s opening series of both halves were things of beauty. And, the things that fuel our expectations. If we could just perform like that more consistently … our upside is unlimited.
Consider … a 16 yard return by A’dre Fraser gives Guelph a 1st down on their 52, then Jazz hits Fraser for a 6-yd gain, Farq rushes for 6 yards, Farq rush for -1, Jazz hits Saxon for 13 yards, Farq rushes for 23, Farq pushes it in from the 1 for a TD. Then to start the 2nd half … an 18 yard return by Dan MacDonald to the Guelph 39, a Farq rush for 4 yards, Jazz hits Charette for 11 yards, Jazz hits Saxon for 19 yards, Jazz hits Ingram for a 37 yard TD. That’s five rushes for 33 yards & 5 for 5 passing for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns.
* * *
Guelph also had great efforts on defense and special teams. Windsor was determined to run the ball yet gained only 65 net yards. And Guelph had a decided advantage in special teams play as well. In his Guelph Mercury story – Gryphons get another shot at Queen’s – Rob Massey picked up on that fact …
The Gryphs were also aided by returnees Alex Charette and A’dre Fraser. They combined for 133 yards returning punts and kickoffs of the 161 the Gryphs recorded. The Lancers had 35. The return yards meant Guelph started one drive inside its 30-yard line during the game while Windsor started seven, including five inside its 20.
That is a significant advantage when it comes to field position. With Windsor often pinned deep in their territory the Gryphon D responded and forced the Lancers to take two safeties.
When you look at the defensive stats, if there is one name that stands out it’s that of sophomore LB Pat McGrath. In his first start at Sam LB, in place of the injured Mac Myers, McGrath led the D with 11 tackles – 6 solo, 5 assists. If Windsor thought they could exploit “the new guy” they were sadly mistaken. Guelph had 5 TFLs [tackles for loss] which included 3 sacks, all of them recorded by the defensive front four – Walker, Finley, Thompson and Marouf.
* * *
The Windsor Star’s game story – Lancers-ousted by Gryphons:
“I was proud of the kids battling back,” D’Amore [Windsor HC] said.
But the Lancers could never get a lead in the game as Guelph took advantage of some poor tackling by Windsor, dropped passes and penalties.
“We’re just making mistakes and in those types of games, in the playoffs, you have to come up big,” D’Amore said. “We had five or six dropped passes and some penalties that extended drives. Those are mistakes you have to get through.”