I couldn’t wait until tomorrow afternoon to write about the Gryphons’ big 49-46 win over the Mustangs today, so I made a deal with my 9-year-old son. Now he’s watching Family Channel [instead of Stamps-Bomber &/or FSU-Notre Dame] and I’m typing on his laptop. Here’s hoping that the 45 minutes spent at the Fairfield Inn & Suites’ pool and water slide will have sufficiently tired him out.
Anyways I haven’t talked to or heard from anyone who didn’t think that was a great game today. Exactly the type of game that a national broadcaster would want to put on the air. In fact, all the games among the OUA’s top three teams have been perfect, made-for-television-type games. Think about it – Guelph loses on the road at McMaster in OT, Mac defeats Western in a back-and-forth affair that goes down to the final play & now in today’s super-competitive game Guelph wins on a 41-yard FG with 6.9 seconds left in the game.
[Oh no. Toopy and Binoo are on. I wonder what the score is in Tallahassee.]
This match-up of the OUA’s top two offensive and defensive teams leaned heavily towards offensive shootout. But a couple of defensive plays were amongst the game-changing plays for Guelph – i.e. a pair of stops on third-&-1 gambles by the Mustangs. The first, in the final minute of the 2nd Q, gave the Gryphons the ball at their 46 with 25 seconds remaining. They moved the ball 30 yards and kicked a 41-yd FG as time expired. The second forced-turnover-on-downs was at the end of the 3rd Q. Western turned it over in Guelph territory. When they got the ball back they were on their own 15. A major shift in field position. If there was another big defensive play it would have been Nick Parisotto’s interception. It thwarted a Western drive and led to a Gryphon TD four plays later.
Some of Guelph’s offensive players put up outstanding numbers that reflected outstanding performances. Consider …
Jazz Lindsey – 34 of 53 for 514 yards*, 4 TDs, 1 INT
A’dre Fraser – 11 catches for 210 yards, 1 TD
Alex Charette – 13 catches for 188 yards, 1 TD
* Jazz’s 514 yards broke the existing record of Justin Dunk for most passing yards in a game by a Gryphon QB. [From gryphons.ca … “breaking the previous record of 487 held by Justin Dunk”]
I can’t not mention the Guelph O-Line. We really didn’t have an effective run day today and I’m not really too upset about that. Western has an outstanding D-Line. They are probably bigger than our O-Line and very athletic. On top of that, they played their LBs so close to the line of scrimmage it made sense not to run the ball beyond what was necessary to keep the Mustangs honest. The Mustangs clearly gambled on stopping the run game and forcing Jazz to beat them with his arm and he did exactly that. And he did it operating behind an O-Line that gave him the time. That big, athletic UWO D-Line were not able to do much to disrupt the passing game thanks to a very solid effort in pass protection from our OLs and RBs.
Lots more to write about when I get home tomorrow. Daniel Ferraro’s clutch kicking. Some other big plays on special teams. Returns. Long snapping. Injuries. Players dressed and not dressed. Et cetera.
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Some links with game stories:
Gryphons.ca – Gryphons beat Mustangs 49-46 in a thriller at Alumni Stadium
Guelph Mercury – Gryphs take shootout win over Western, clinch bye in quarter-finals
London Free Press – Finch’s return not enough
One highlight from the Mercury story, an OUA record-setting performance:
The Gryphs defeated Western on a 41-yard field goal by Ferraro with 1.7 seconds to play.
“That’s something you dream about as a kicker when it all comes down to your leg,” Ferraro said of the winning field goal. “That’s what you prepare for and that’s what you practise for.”
The winning field goal was Ferraro’s 23rd of the season, tying the single-season record set about an hour earlier in Hamilton when Tyler Crapigna of the McMaster Marauders kicked his fourth field goal in a 27-10 victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks. Ferraro and Crapigna are two field goals short of tying the CIS single-season record of 25 set by Christopher Milo of Laval in 2008.
“That kind of stuff, really, I’m just kicking because I want to win a championship with my team,” Ferraro said. “All that kind of stuff I’ll look at after the year when I evaluate how it went.”
The Mustangs might have inadvertently helped Ferraro when they called their final time out as Ferraro was setting up for the kick.
“They think it kind of gets in your head, but I think it just gives you more time to settle down,” he said. “We were running out there quick because we didn’t have any more timeouts left. It definitely helped.”
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I enjoyed watching the entire game from the VIP tents in the South end zone. It is a little harder to follow the game when you’re at ground level but it is great to be able to move around, socialize and enjoy a beverage. Only Gryphon Gold for me – lol. And one hot chocolate. My only complaint … they need to have a three-minute warning announcement at the end of the 3rd Q. A version of “last call”, just around 3:30 on Saturday afternoons. Ok, I have a second
complaint suggestion. Guelph may produce the best game-day roster handout in the OUA but there weren’t any available at the end zone entrance. It would be great to have a little supply of those sheets in the VIP tents.
It was great to meet Brent Davies, one of the owners of Wellington Breweries, the makers of Gryphon Gold. Davies, a rugby player, was a varsity athlete at Guelph in the early 1990s. Very interesting to hear the story behind the development of Gryphon Gold, including the hurdles required for approval. But Davies’, and Wellington Breweries’, emphasis on giving back to their community was impressive. Another key figure in Gryphon Gold coming to fruition, Director of Athletics Tom Kendall, was also in the VIP tent for most of the game.
I had the chance to chat with lots of football alumni including Peter Partridge, Randy Dimitroff, Fred Promoli and Bill Morrison among others. Dave Easter, the man in charge of the Athletic Dept’s marketing and communications, stopped by to chat for a few minutes. He is looking to develop and enhance the VIP tent experience. Last year they piggy-backed on the Ticats enhancements to the stadium. This year Guelph had to adapt to the changed circumstances. Easter is looking how to make it better next year. I think I’ll be back there when the Yates Cup semi-final is played in three weeks.
On the way into the stadium I had a quick chat with Justin Dunk. He was dropping in to catch the first part of the game before he headed off to work at Sportsnet, meaning he probably wasn’t around to see Jazz break his record. Or a great Gryphon win! I don’t know how he, or other players from his era, feel about it but I received a lot of satisfaction from the win in part because some similarly tight games with Western went the other way back in 2008 & 2009.
Postgame I met a couple of London football coaches for the first time. The first one was David Martin, a minor football coach and Guelph’s scout in the London area. Please keep that top London talent coming to Guelph! The other coach was Owen McCarthy. Al & Betty Nesbitt introduced me to him. McCarthy was Matt Nesbitt’s OL Coach with the JV London Falcons. McCarthy had coached plenty of other players on the field including Nesbitt’s 2009 Falcons line-mate and Western’s starting center Matt VanPraet.