Gryphons celebrate Homecoming by silencing Ottawa
GUELPH – It looks like things are really starting to click into place for the offence of the Guelph Gryphons.
In their annual Homecoming Game, their final home game of the OUA football league’s regular season, the Gryphs got things rolling in the right direction.
“I thought the plan was solid and I thought the kids picked it up really well,” head coach Ryan Sheahan said after his sixth-ranked Gryphs defeated the eighth-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees 33-6 Saturday at Alumni Stadium. “I thought the quarterback definitely made more plays than he had all year and I was proud of how he delivered, especially in the first half.”
“It was a full team win,” quarterback Theo Landers said. “Our defence once again had a shutout which is huge. They put us in really good field position to put the ball in the endzone and I was able to get the ball into some of our play makers’ hands and that really is my job. We have a really good receiving corps so it’s just getting the ball into their hands and letting them do the rest of the work so I was able to do that today.”
The Gryphs had 386 yards of total offence with all but 100 of it coming through the air. And Guelph’s defence held Ottawa to 107 yards of total offence.
“It’s awesome to see the offence move the ball and they’ve really been doing that well,” linebacker Job Reinhart said. “It really pumps the defence up.”
The Gryphs jumped into an 11-0 lead in the first quarter and extended it to 21-6 by halftime. The score stood at 24-6 after the third quarter.
“With a new offence, it just takes time,” Landers said. “That’s all. Everyone’s confidence is going up. It’s progression. We’re getting better and better every week and that’s what’s the most important thing.”
However an old problem crept back into the Homecoming Game.
“In the second half, penalties seemed to be our Achilles heel,” Sheahan said. “They took some, we took some. I’m not going to say which ones were just and which ones weren’t. I’m just going to say that momentum killers existed in the second half and we’re going to have to tidy that up moving forward in the last two weeks of the season.”
Penalties were something that concerned the Gryphs early in the season. After a special hard-work session designed to let the players know that dumb penalties wouldn’t be tolerated, the penalty problem died down a bit. But it was definitely back in front of the largest home crowd of the season as the Gryphs took 13 of them that were accepted and they moved the ball back a total of 207 yards. And they also cost the Gryphs a touchdown on an interception return by defensive back Graham Brodie.
Brodie, though, got that back as he picked off another pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 65 yards to the house.
“We had the penalty plague early and we kind of fixed it and now it’s a situation where our tempers seem to overcome us at times,” Sheahan said. “It’s a back-to-work week for the bye and we’re going to have to tune some things up to go play Queen’s before Thanksgiving.”
“We’ll definitely feel the repercussions of that, but really we’ve just got to focus up and sharpen up our game,” Reinhart said. “We can’t be having those stupid penalties.”
The Homecoming Game is always the game the Gryphon players look forward to the most.
“It’s super special,” Landers said. “It’s something that I’m never going to forget for the rest of my life. We have a really good home crowd and the energy was there today so I was happy to be a part of it.”
And the players use the crowd’s energy to build up their own energy.
“They feed onto us, we feed onto them,” Landers said. “It’s major and it definitely translates onto the field.”
“They pump us up all the time with that noise,” Reinhart said. “We really feed off the noise all the time.”
Kian Schaffer-Baker caught passes from Landers for touchdowns of 37 and 26 yards and Brodie had Guelph’s other TD with his interception that counted. Eric Stranz converted all three TDs and kicked field goals of 35 and 37 yards and he also helped save a TD by knocking an Ottawa punt returner out of bounds when he was the only Gryphon left before the endzone. Ottawa also conceded three safeties.
Kicker Campbell Fair booted second-quarter field goals of 20 and 30 yards for Ottawa’s points.
The win leaves the Gryphs at 4-2. The Western Mustangs lead the league at 6-0 and are the only team to have already clinched a playoff berth. The McMaster Marauders and Waterloo Warriors are both at 4-1 while Ottawa’s at 3-2. They’re the only teams in the league above a .500 winning percentage and the Gryphs have played them all.
The Toronto Varsity Blues, Carleton Ravens and Laurier Golden Hawks are each at 2-3, Queen’s Gaels are at 2-4, Windsor Lancers are at 1-5 and York Lions are at 0-6.
The Gryphs get a bye next weekend, but it won’t be an off week for them.
“There’s still a lot of learning and a lot of growing,” Sheahan said. “There are a lot of kinks that we need to get out. Even though it was probably one of our best offensive days, it wasn’t perfect. I think that we can always do better so this is a week where we’re going to have to go back to the drawing board on some stuff, refocus, heal up a little bit which everybody needs at this time and put together the game-winning plan. We’ve got a week and a half to prepare for them and it’s going to be important.”
“They’re going to be tough, just like any other game,” Landers said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time, but it’s nice to be able to get a bye week and be able to rest up after this game because it was a battle today. It’s going to be nice to be able to go on this break and take it one game at a time.”
The Gryphs are to finish their regular season with a pair of road games as they’re to play Queen’s at Kingston Oct. 11 and the Varsity Blues at Toronto Oct. 20.
“If we can do our job and win out, we’ll finish third which I think is important for our team,” Sheahan said. “But we’re not taking anybody lightly. Everybody’s good in the OUA and on any given Saturday you can win or lose depending on how well you play.”
Gryphons 33 Gee-Gees 6
- Guelph Sports Journal