Gryphons rally to cage York Lions
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – Once the Guelph Gryphons reduced their penalties they got around to the business of getting interim head coach Todd Galloway his first victory in OUA football.
“It feels good. Obviously we still made a lot of mistakes out there, but I was really proud of the resilience of the guys,” Galloway said outside the dressing room after the game, his shirt soaking wet after having a tub of water poured on him by the players. “They stepped it up in the second half and really showed some heart.”
“It feels great,” linebacker and long snapper Job Reinhart said. “That’s what we needed to get the ball rolling and keep the momentum going throughout the season.”
After trailing at halftime and giving up a point on the opening kickoff of the second half, the Gryphs struck for 20 points in the third quarter on their way to a 33-18 victory over the York Lions Monday at Alumni Stadium.
“I just said we’ve got to keep it simple,” Galloway said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We took a few too many penalties and controllable penalties, as well. We stalled a lot of drives. We kind of cleaned that up in the second half and it showed.”
“Between the first half and the second, we came in at halftime and just got more dialed in,” receiver Zeph Fraser said. “Coach said we just needed to keep driving. We had these guys, we just had to put up some points on them. We just had to put up points and keep driving. They were tired. We just executed as a team and I felt we did our role as an offence and defence did their role, too. Once we get that chemistry going and we get on a roll, I don’t think anyone can stop us.”
The hosts had effectively racked up 95 yards on nine penalty calls in the opening half including 30 yards on two unnecessary roughness calls on back-to-back plays. They had another UR call on the final play of the first half that was applied to York’s kickoff to start the second half that finished with the Gryphs conceding a rouge and giving the Lions a 12-10 lead.
“We weren’t concerned,” Reinhart said. “We just knew we had to calm down and rally the team and we could do it so that’s what we did. We responded.”
The comeback started when Gabe Ferraro booted a 42-yard field goal 2:16 into the third quarter and Reinhart returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown 67 seconds later. A quarterback during his high school days at Guelph CVI, the TD brought back some memories.
“That was a lot of fun and it brought me back to the good old days, that’s for sure,” he said.
Reinhart felt there really wasn’t anything special about the interception, other than it going for the TD.
“I just did my job,” he said. “I was responsible for the running back. I saw the ball going to him so I drove down on it and just ran to the end zone.”
An interception by Guelph’s Akeem Knowles on York’s next possession that led to a one-yard TD plunge by quarterback Theo Landers effectively removed the danger of the Gryphs losing to York for the first time since 2005.
Kade Belyk scored Guelph’s other TD as he hauled in an 11-yard scoring pass from Landers late in the second quarter.
Ferraro, who struggled with three missed field goals in the season-opening loss to the McMaster Marauders at Hamilton eight days earlier, was back to his usual self as he hit four field goals (29, 42, 27 and 47 yards) and three converts and he averaged 41 yards on six punts. Three of those punts left the Lions starting possessions inside their own 20.
The Gryphs again came out of the game feeling pretty good about their run game as they collected 252 yards rushing and their defence held York to 46 yards rushing.
The hosts had 163 yards passing, but didn’t pass the ball much after getting the lead in the third quarter. While the Lions had 313 yards passing, it came on 31 receptions while the Gryphs had 14.
The biggest negative was the penalties – 15 in all for 149 yards. That was seven more penalties than York was assessed for 57 yards more and the Lions gained three first downs on Guelph penalties.
“We’ve got to do a better job,” Galloway said. “We’ve got to do a better job of holding them accountable for penalties in practice because they started to creep into the game this week. It’s something we’ll obviously work on and we’ll have our coaches harp on during practice and make them more accountable for it.”
“We’ve just got to be more disciplined and play our game,” Reinhart said. “That’s not our game.”
“It’s just something we’ve got to clean up,” Zeph Fraser said. “Starting (Tuesday), we’re back in the office and we’ve just got to get rolling for Ottawa.”
It’ll be a short week of practice as the Gryphs are to play the Ottawa Gee-Gees at Ottawa Saturday afternoon. While the Gryphs usually get the day after a game off to heal up a bit, that won’t be the case this week. They’ll be back practising Tuesday.
“It is kind of difficult, but at the same time we’ve got a goal and it’s the Vanier Cup,” Zeph Fraser said. “We’ve just got to all dial in together and just do it. Just tough it out and just go in there and do it.”
“We’ve got to jump back on a bus on Friday and head up to Ottawa against a good football team,” Galloway said. “We’re tired and we’re sore. It was hot out there, but we’ve got to practise (Tuesday). We’re going to go out there with some helmets and get some work in and try to get a three-day work week in and get a little sense of normalcy.”
Next home game for the Gryphs is their Homecoming Game against the Queen’s Gaels (0-2) Sept. 22.