Gryphons run over Waterloo to move into tie for second

WATERLOO – Using the blocking of the Guelph Gryphons’ offensive line, running back Kaine Stevenson broke loose for three touchdowns as the sixth-ranked Gryphs dropped the Waterloo Warriors 39-13 in OUA football play Saturday at Warrior Field.

“The key was out front. My O-line killed it,” Stevenson said after churning ahead for 194 yards on 21 carries. “They were getting to the next level and my receivers, they all blocked. They were just killing it, that was the key.”

Stevenson, a Windsor native who joined the Gryphons this season after playing junior football in B.C., turned in his first 100-yard rushing performance of the year. His total for the game was more than his first three games combined which was 129 yards on 40 carries.

“I thought it would happen sooner and I was getting a little frustrated,” he said. “But I haven’t played tailback in a while so it’s just getting into it, getting into the groove, making cuts, getting hit again and all that. My O-line played a big part of that.”

For Stevenson, it had been a little while since he had a trio of touchdowns in a single game.

“It’s been a while, but it feels good, though,” he said. “It’s probably been since high school (at Windsor’s W.F. Herman).”

Guelph’s offence was also boosted by the return of receiver Kade Belyk who suffered a hamstring injury late in training camp and missed the first three games. Last year’s leading receiver for the Gryphs when he hauled in 36 passes, he had seven catches Saturday for 82 yards and a touchdown. His return helped the offence look a little more in step than it did in his absence.

“We definitely still get caught in neutral at times, but for the most part today it was pretty well executed,” head coach Ryan Sheahan said. “I thought the run game really took over today and I thought the quarterback took off and ran when he was supposed to and made some plays with his feet.”

The defence held the Warriors to a single touchdown and registered five sacks and an interception.

“We come into games with great game plans and our guys execute,” defensive lineman Alain Cimankinda said. “Our front seven is legit. Our DBs are locking it down and that’s it. Nothing special.”

Cimankinda had one of the sacks and 2.5 tackles in the game. Both he and head coach Sheahan credited defensive coordinator Dennis McPhee with the Gryphons performance when Waterloo had the ball.

“We’ve got the guys,” Cimankinda said. “We’ve got ball hawks and our DC is amazing. He stays on us and he makes sure we do the right things for the right reasons. He motivates us to do the right thing.”

“The defensive coordinator had a great plan,” Sheahan said. “That’s the reigning conference MVP (Waterloo quarterback Tre Ford) that we held to 13 points today. He definitely has the ability to make some great plays, but those plays were limited today and I’m really proud of that. This one was for coach McPhee.”

After being whistled for 16 penalties and 140 yards in the win over the York Lions a week earlier, the Gryphs cut those numbers down to seven penalties for 65 yards.

“The boys definitely paid attention to the penalty drill they did last Sunday,” Sheahan said. “If we have to do it again for them to continue to learn, so be it.”

“We paid for it. We learned. It wasn’t nice, but it registered up top and we made sure not to do the same things again,” Cimankinda said. “The discipline penalties, they’re the ones that hurt the most because you can control that.”

Despite the win, the Gryphs feel that there’s still a lot more to come.

“We were probably 14 points short today of what we could’ve had,” Sheahan said. “We threw the interception early and we fumbled down here on the one-yard line. Those are errors that we have to fix moving forward, but overall I was impressed with our performance. Special teams and defence were once again playing on all cylinders. If we can eliminate some penalties and eliminate the turnovers, we’ll be a much better football team.”

The Gryphs didn’t run any kicks back for touchdowns in the game for the first time this season. Clark Barnes, who had returned one kickoff for a TD in each of the previous three games, didn’t play after being injured in the fourth quarter of the York game.

The game was the second in a row that saw the Gryphons score more than half their points in the fourth quarter. The Gryphs have scored 139 points this season and 62 have come in the final quarter of games.

The win also left the Gryphs at 3-1 at the midway point of their regular season. They’re tied for second with the McMaster Marauders while the Western Mustangs (4-0) are the only undefeated team in the 11-team league. The Warriors fall into a tie for fourth with the Toronto Varsity Blues and Ottawa Gee-Gees at 2-1.

“We’ve got momentum and we’ve got better game after game,” Cimankinda said. “We’ve got to keep on getting better, keep learning and tighten up certain spots where we have trouble in and keep on getting better in the other spots where we did great. It’s nothing really special. We’ve got to come into work every day, keep getting better and that’s it.”

“We stress all the time that the most precious gift we have in this world is time and we have to take full advantage of it,” Sheahan said. “We’re only really guaranteed four more games and we’re going to have to bring our best effort so we can jump into the medal round. We’re still growing as a team. I’m proud of the progress that we’ve made, but we can still do better.”

The Gryphs are to host Western Saturday at Alumni Stadium. Game time is 1 p.m.

“To me, I might be biased but I think we’re great,” Cimankinda said. “I think we’re really good right now. The offence is picking up, peaking at the right time.

“We have something special going on here and we’ve just got to capitalize on that and keep on building on it and getting better every day.”

 

Gryphons 39 Warriors 13
Guelph        3-7-7-22–39
Waterloo     3-0-10-0–13
 
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