Guelph wins Yates Cup – Ottawa Sun

Nice story in the Ottawa Sun by Tim BainesGuelph wins Yates Cup.

Guelph Gryphons football players Matthew Nesbitt, left, James Ingram, Curtis Newton, John Rush, James Roberts and Patrick McGrath hoist the OUA Yates Cup over their heads after winning the provincial championship football game by beating the Western Mustangs 23-17 at TD Stadium in London, Ont. on Saturday November 14, 2015. Craig Glover/The London Free Press/Postmedia Network

Guelph Gryphons football players Matthew Nesbitt, left, James Ingram, Curtis Newton, John Rush, James Roberts and Patrick McGrath hoist the OUA Yates Cup over their heads after winning the provincial championship football game by beating the Western Mustangs 23-17 at TD Stadium in London, Ont. on Saturday November 14, 2015. Craig Glover/The London Free Press/Postmedia Network

 

For the Guelph Gryphons, it was a sense of finally, an exclamation mark on a season they hope has two more weeks and a huge validation of who and what the school’s football program has become.

On Saturday, the Gryphons beat the previously undefeated Western Mustangs 23-17 for their first Yates Cup in 19 years with the game coming down to the final play — from the Guelph 10-yard line — with Western’s Justin Sanvido being stopped at five yards short.

“They made the commitment 12 months sitting in that locker room in Hamilton (after a 20-15 Yates Cup loss to McMaster), a game we think we should have won,” Gryphons coach Stu Lang said. “To hang onto that goal through ups and downs this season, it was a struggle. But they hung tough.

“No better way than to come into Western, an undefeated team, enemy territory, be down at half — to fight and come back and win, I’m so proud of them. It’s always sweeter when it’s more difficult and I don’t think it could have been any more difficult than this one.”

Going into the game, the Mustangs had trailed just once this season, 1-0 to Queen’s. They put a chokehold on opponents — 74-10 over York, 59-9 over Laurier, 70-14 over Carleton, 58-2 over Toronto, 63-19 over Ottawa, 46-24 over McMaster, 48-25 over Queen’s and 76-7 over Windsor. Laurier gave Western a battle in the OUA semifinal a week ago before losing 32-18.

But the Gryphons, who finished 7-1 (losing to Queen’s), weren’t intimidated.

Guelph trailed 14-3 at the half, with Western QB Stevenson Bone, subbing in for injured starter Will Finch, scoring on two runs. The Gryphons fought back with QB James Roberts scoring on a one-yard run and Jacob Scarfone (who caught six passes for 142 yards) scoring on a 36-yard strike from Roberts. Kicker Gabriel Ferraro booted three field goals. Western kicker Ben Kelly missed two field goals.

“The reason I committed here was for moments like this,” Roberts said. “Watching film on them, we knew it was going to be a tough game. We just had to maintain positivity and keep that going through the whole game.”

Western had control of the game, then lost it. Bone at times looked like a deer in headlights in the second half, but battled to the end.

“It definitely is (devastating),” Mustangs coach Greg Marshall said. “Credit to Guelph, they played well. “There’s no doubt (we left points on the board) and that can come back and bite you in a close game. Yeah, it’s disappointing, but it’s a game, we’ll move on. The hardest thing for me is going into the dressing room and seeing kids who worked hard every single night — they stayed here till 10 o’clock, 10:30 every night and it’s over in seconds. You get this close. That’s life, too. It’s hard for them.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Jesse McNair had nine tackles for Western, while Ottawa’s John Biewald had six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Guelph linebacker John Rush, the game’s MVP, had 10 tackles and three sacks. Iain Hutchison had eight tackles.

“It’s such a rush of emotions, there’s happiness and a feeling of relief — it took me five years to get here, but we finally did it,” Rush said. “We knew it would be a dogfight. They threw some punches, but we threw them right back at them. We believed they hadn’t been tested all year, that other teams hadn’t done the necessary things to stop these guys. We wanted to be the hammer, not the nail … and I think we did that pretty effectively.”

“I couldn’t even watch that last drive, there was so much emotion,” Biewald said. “You have to give credit to Guelph, they played a helluva game. It came down to a few big plays, a few snaps; that’s what it takes in these big games.”

The Gryphons established a running game, with Johnny Augustine rushing for 108 yards and Brandon Gordon running for 98.

“This is the first time I’ve experienced this, being a champion,” Augustine said. “I always fell short, even in high school. I’m on such a high right now, this is the best feeling.”

The Gryphons will host the Montreal Carabins, who beat Laval 18-16, next Saturday in the Mitchell Bowl.

“Our motto is one game at a time, even one play at a time,” Augustine said. “Tonight we’re going to enjoy this, then it’s back to business.”

Twitter: @timcbaines

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