Football Gryphs keep eye on home playoff game
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – To make things a little easier on themselves, the Guelph Gryphons can’t think about anything other than winning their final game of the OUA football league’s regular season.
If the Gryphs defeat the Carleton Ravens at Ottawa next Saturday, they’re in the playoffs for sure and they could host a quarter-final match.
The Gryphs could still qualify for the playoffs with a loss to Carleton, but it would involve the use of the league’s tie-breaking rules. Best to avoid that.
Using the foot of record-tying kicker Gabe Ferraro, the Gryphs kept their hopes of a home playoff game alive with a 24-14 victory over the fifth-ranked Laurier Golden Hawks at Alumni Stadium Saturday. Ferraro booted five field goals in the game as he hit from 18, 38, 25, 11 and 40 yards. He also missed from 34 and 52 yards.
“I’ve become accustomed to that this season, the way I’ve been getting them,” Ferraro said of another multiple field-goal game. It was his second five-FG outing of the season as he also kicked that many against the Toronto Varsity Blues last month. “The number of times this season has been awesome.”
The five field goals give him 26 on the season, tying him with his brother and current coach Daniel Ferraro who set the record in the 2014 season and had it tied the following year by Johnny Marks of Calgary.
Gabe Ferraro also had two rouges for single points, one on the missed 34-yarder and the other on a punt with about a minute to go when the Gryphs had a third-and-three at Laurier’s 32-yard line. The punt went into the Laurier end zone and the Gryphs tackled Kurleigh Gittens Jr. before he could get the ball out of the end zone. A field goal on that would’ve given Gabe Ferraro the record.
“I tried to (talk them into it), but it’s all about the team, not myself,” he said.
While Gabe Ferraro tied a team, OUA and U Sports record with his season total, he also set a team mark by increasing his career total to 62. He had entered the game tied with Rob Maver for that record. Gabe Ferraro also just missed tying another team record with his missed 52-yarder. Norm Nasser hit one from that distance in 2001.
Gabe Ferraro’s foot allowed the Gryphs to win despite having an offence that couldn’t get the ball into the Laurier end zone. Guelph’s only touchdown was Jacob Scarfone’s 122-yard return of a missed 39-yard field goal by Laurier’s Nathan Mesher two and a half minutes into the second half.
The Gryphs led 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, 10-0 at halftime and 17-0 after Scarfone’s TD before the Golden Hawks came back with their two TDs, helped an awful lot by Gryphon penalties and miscues.
The hosts took eight penalties for 102 yards. Laurier’s first touchdown, a one-yard plunge by running back Levondre Gordon, came a play after the Gryphs had been called for a personal foul on a 22-yard field goal by Mesher. The Golden Hawks went for the TD rather than settling for the FG.
A personal foul by the Gryphs gave Laurier another first-and-goal from the one-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Golden Hawks quarterback Michael Knevel got the ball into the end zone on third down after the Gryphon defence had stopped the previous two plays.
The ball never came out of Guelph’s end in the fourth quarter before those two TDs. The quarter started with Laurier pouncing on a loose ball that the referees’ ruled Gryphon punt returner Ryan Isenor fumbled after a short punt bounced in front of him. The Gryphs argued that Isenor never touched the ball.
While Laurier never scored on that possession, they got good field position on their next possession when the Gryphs turned the ball over on downs at their own 29-yard line on a failed third-and-one play. Knevel’s TD came on that possession.
The Gryphs kept the ball on the ground most of the remainder of the game as Johnny Augustine had five carries for 31 yards and quarterback Theo Landers had one for five yards.
Landers completed 13 of 20 pass attempts for 111 yards. At least four of his incomplete passes were a result of Laurier’s defensive linemen knocking the ball down.
Augustine carried the ball 31 times for 176 yards in his final regular-season home game at Alumni Stadium while Landers had 14 carries for 86 yards. No other Gryphon carried the ball.
“It came to my mind that this could potentially be my last home game here,” Augustine admitted. “With that thought, I said I’m going to pour my heart out. This program, there’s nothing bad I can say. It has treated me well so much. I’m just emotional thinking about it, but I obviously hope we have a home playoff game here.”
Scarfone caught five passes for 42 yards and Kian Schaffer-Baker caught four for 39 yards.
Isenor returned eight punts for 74 yards and two kickoffs for 42 yards.
On defence, Nick Parisotto and Luke Korol had interceptions and A.J. Allen recovered a fumble. Parisotto made eight solo and three assisted tackles while Korol mad six solo and seven assisted tackles. Korol, Orion Edwards and Allen each had a tackle for a loss.
The game was the final regular-season home game for four Gryphons in their fifth and final year of eligibility — Augustine, defensive back Justis Croasdale, linebacker Derek Drouillard and receiver Thomas Besciani who got engaged on the field’s Gryphon logo shortly after the game.
The Gryphs also have 12 players listed in their fourth years of eligibility and some of them might not be back next season. They were quarterback James Roberts who’s sidelined with an injury suffered in the Homecoming Game against McMaster, running back Brandon Gordon who was injured early in the season, receiver Scarfone, offensive linemen Colin Jerome, Andrew Pickett and Eric Starczala, kicker Gabe Ferraro, linebacker Korol and defensive backs Royce Metchie, Edwards, Michael Carney and Parisotto.
Saturday’s game at Carleton’s MNP Park is to start at 1 p.m.