Football Gryphs break out against Windsor

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons felt they were due a breakout game and they did it in a record way Saturday afternoon at the expense of the Windsor Lancers.

The Gryphs, who suffered losses in overtime in their first two games of the OUA football season, scored 10 touchdowns as they destroyed Windsor 82-10 at Alumni Stadium.

“It feels good, but we’ve been knocking at the door the last two weeks,” Gryphon head coach Kevin MacNeill said. “We’ve been playing a lot of good football, it’s just nice to finally put it all together.”

“This is huge,” Gryphon second-string QB Theo Landers said. He played almost a half of football in the longest outing of his three-year career with the Gryphs. “It’s our first win of the season. It was a big win putting up those points. Our offence has struggled a little bit this year so it was good for us putting up those points. It’s given us a lot of confidence.”

The 82 points were the most ever scored by the Gryphs in a single game and the sixth-most scored by any team in an OUA game. The most is the 90 the Laurier Golden Hawks scored in a 90-15 victory over the York Lions (then known as the Yeomen) in 1974.

Rookie Ryan Isenor had 222 yards on four punt returns with one of them being a 125-yard return of a missed field goal. In OUA football, missed field goal returns are considered punt returns.

“I was actually thinking about it and I pictured it in my head before it was even kicked,” Isenor said. “I just pictured it before and it happened. As soon as I made that first cutback, everyone was cutting around to make the block and I was gone from there. I had four people leading me into the end zone from about the 50 on. It was easy.”

The return by Isenor wasn’t a team record as Jedd Gardner returned a missed field goal 129 yards against the McMaster Marauders in 2010 and he also returned missed field goals 128 yards against York in 2008 and 125 yards against Waterloo the same year. Alex Charette returned one 125 yards against Waterloo in 2013. With Isenor’s 125-yarder added in, the Gryphs hold five of the top seven missed field goal returns of all time.

Isenor’s 222 yards in total punt return yardage in the game was a team record, breaking Ryan Nieuwesteeg’s 205 yards in 2014 in a game against the Queen’s Gaels and was second in league history behind the 259 Jimmy Allin of Queen’s had in 2009 against the Gryphs.

For Isenor, the key to his returns is “patience, let the blocks set up and follow them. I’ve got all these guys, they know how to set their blocks up. If I let them do that, it’s an easy run. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Gabe Ferraro came within inches of setting a team record for the longest field goal as he had a 53-yard attempt strike an upright and stay out. The league record for a successful field goal is 55 set by Kevin Rydeard of Western in 1982 in a win over York. The Gryphon record is 52 set by Norm Nasser in 2001.

The Gryphs started in a hurry Saturday, scoring TDs on each of their first three possessions on their way to a 23-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. They extended it to 53-3 at halftime and 69-3 after the third quarter.

One of the good things for the Gryphs was that they did get playing time for almost every one of the 55 players suited up for the game.

“It was great to see a third-string quarterback get in there, a fourth-team running back get in there,” MacNeill said. “We were able to get a lot of guys on the field and that was a nice way to be able to reward some guys for all their hard work and see some young kids make some plays.”

Starting quarterback James Roberts completed 16 of 21 pass attempts for 302 yards and four TDs before giving way to Landers late in the second quarter.

“It felt good to be out there with the guys,” Landers said. “I felt we were prepared and it was a good situation for me. I felt we did well and it felt nice to get out there and finally get some time under my belt.”

Landers hit two of three pass attempts for 26 yards in his longest outing of his three-year career with the Gryphs. Because of the score, he was called upon to hand off the ball more than throw it and he did run 20 yards for a TD on his first play in the final minute of the opening half.

“That was a designed QB run,” the mobile Landers said.

Third-string QB Brayden Lassenba, a first-year Gryphon, did get in the game and handed the ball off a few times.

Zeph Fraser (18 yards), Kian Schaffer-Baker (41 yards), Kade Belyk (17 yards) and Jacob Scarfone (20 yards) each caught a TD pass. Johnny Augustine had runs of three and five yards for TDs and Jamal Hooker had runs of 47 and four yards for TDs. Ferraro kicked field goals of 29 and 35 yards, a rouge on the missed 53-yarder and nine converts – one was blocked. Windsor also conceded three safeties.

Marvin Gaynor scored Windsor’s TD on a 70-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Clark Green kicked a 36-yard FG and a convert to round out the scoring.

Now 1-2, the Gryphs are in a tie with the Carleton Ravens and Toronto Varsity Blues for sixth in the league standings. McMaster’s at 1-1.

The Gryphs and Varsity Blues are to play Saturday at 2 p.m. at Toronto.