Gryphons don’t yield any TDs to Western, but still come up short

GUELPH – The win’s the thing.

Despite holding the top-ranked Western Mustangs without a touchdown in OUA football play Saturday at Alumni Stadium, the sixth-ranked Guelph Gryphons were disappointed in the end result as they came out with a 9-3 loss.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our defence and our defensive staff,” Gryphon coach Ryan Sheahan said. “I thought there was an all-systems-go prep week for them. They practised really hard and obviously executed well and at times, like you saw, Western is still capable of making big plays. They’ve got experience, good running attack and a big O line. I thought their quarterback (Chris Merchant) played like a warrior, but kudos to coach (Dennis) McPhee. He had our boys ready to play and it really showed today.”

“We’re cheesed,” Gryphon defensive back Dotun Aketepe said. “We’re cheesed at how the outcome came. In the end, we did some good stuff and we did some bad stuff. We’re going to clear it. We’re going to fix it and we’re going to come back stronger. That’s the only way we can take it.”

Aketepe had an interception, his second of the season and sixth in four years with the Gryphs.

“You always feel good to play well, but in the end our main goal is to win,” he said on the field minutes after the end of the game. “It just makes you feel that you didn’t do enough. That’s honestly how I feel about it right now.”

Field goals were the only way to get points in the game that featured most of the action between the 20-yard lines. Marc Liegghio kicked three of them as he hit from 23, 27 and 16 yards for Western before Eric Stranz of the Gryphs connected from 47 yards with 4:51 to go in the final quarter.

“I really feel confident in our team and how we played Western today,” Aketepe said. “I feel like when we come back, we’re coming stronger. We’re coming.”

The nine points were the fewest scored by the Mustangs in a single regular-single game since they were blanked 37-0 by the Queen’s Gaels in the final game of the 2011 season on Oct. 22. With first place clinched, Western used most of its second-stringers in that game and that certainly wasn’t the case at Alumni Stadium.

“I’m proud of our effort, but I’m a little disappointed in some of the errors that we made in the game,” Sheahan said. “I hate to sound like a cliché or broken record, but against good teams when you make small errors they come back and haunt you.”

Guelph’s defence has been its strength this season and that stood true again against Western as the Gryphs recorded five sacks for a loss of 23 yards while the Mustangs sacked Guelph quarterback Theo Landers twice for a loss of 16 yards.

Both teams had an interception.

While the Gryphs have struggled offensively in the first half of each game this season due to an inability to lick, most of the problems this time were caused by the Mustangs.

“I thought that we had started better than we had in the first four weeks,” Sheahan said. “We definitely stood toe to toe with them at some points in the game, but at others you have to be able to go punch for punch and unfortunately putting the defence back out there for probably 25 more plays in the game today was probably the tell-tale result.”

The Gryphs did have a 55-yard touchdown by Jordan Terrio on a catch of a Landers pass in the second quarter called back by a penalty for an illegal block.

“That was huge,” Sheahan said. “It was the difference in the ball game in the end and I thought it was a call that we didn’t deserve, especially after checking it on the iPad. But I don’t want to sound like a sore loser. All’s fair in love and football. What we needed to do was that we needed to execute and we needed to finish that drive at the end of the game.”

After a holding call on a punt return gave the Gryphs a first down on their own four-yard line, they started to mount a drive. Landers had two runs for a total of 18 yards and he completed passes to Abdraman Abdel-Rahim, Kade Belyk, A.J. Chase and Terrio to get the ball to the Western 40. However, the drive flamed out with back-to-back incomplete passes.

Landers completed 21 passes for 201 yards while Merchant threw 19 receptions for 213 yards. Both were intercepted once.

Trey Humes had 21 carries for 109 yards for Western while Landers had 39 yards on eight carries, Kaine Stevenson had 36 yards on 10 carries and Belyk caught seven passes for 68 yards.

And for the second game in a row Gryphon offensive lineman Matthew Famurewa picked up a loose ball and advanced it.

On defence, Ben Lack of the Gryphs had nine tackles while Job Reinhart had 8.5 and A.J. Allen had 7.5. Six Gryphs were in on the sacks as Justin Lauzon, Joshua Campbell, Alain Cimankinda and Greg Corfield had one apiece and Allen and Tavius Robinson shared one. Cimankinda and Anthony Federico of Queen’s share the league lead with 5.5 this season while Robinson is third at 4.5.

Western leads the league at 5-0 and they’re followed by the McMaster Marauders at 4-1, Waterloo Warriors and Ottawa Gee-Gees at 3-1, Gryphs at 3-2, Toronto Varsity Blues at 2-2, Queen’s at 2-3, Carleton Ravens and Laurier Golden Hawks at 1-3, Windsor Lancers at 1-4 and York Lions at 0-5.

The Gryphs are to host Ottawa Saturday in their annual Homecoming Game at Alumni Stadium. Game time is 1 p.m.

“Homecoming, that game is always a lot of fun,” Aketepe said. “I like coming out of the tunnel and then just taking my time and actually try to absorb everything happening. It’s a different experience. Just looking at the crazy crowd and everyone’s just cheering for you and everyone’s just trying to support you. It makes you feel like ‘Oh, wow. This is a game. This is a game.’ It’s always a fun experience and I’m really excited for it.”


Mustangs 9 Gryphons 3
Western     3-3-0-3–9
Guelph       0-0-0-3–3
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