Gryphons top Waterloo again, advance to semifinals
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons ran their OUA football win streak to four games, gaining a berth in the semifinals in the process as they downed the Waterloo Warriors 45-34 in the quarter-finals Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
The Gryphs turned in what was probably their finest offensive performance of the season as they unleashed a balanced attack against Waterloo.
“We thought we were a little bigger up front and we thought we were a little more physical a football team,” Gryphon coach Todd Galloway said. “That kid became a man today. I’m very proud of J-P today. 256 yards rushing is a heck of a number for a true freshman out there on a playoff game.”
The hosts gained 284 yards rushing and 240 passing. Freshman running back Jean-Paul Cimankinda had the bulk of the carries and was a little bruised afterwards, but wouldn’t have it any other way as he gained 256 yards on 29 carries and also scored three touchdowns on a damp, cool day.
“Honestly, we did a pretty good job of running last week and we were kind of focused on that,” he said. “We knew it was going to rain so we kind of focused more on running. They kind of figured out what we were doing at one point so we stopped and went to the passing game and that worked, too. We ended up coming back to the running game which was there the whole game.”
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Cimankinda has assumed the role as the feature back in the Gryphon offence in the last couple of weeks.
“Physically he was always ready,” Galloway said. “We knew what we thought we were getting when we recruited him. It just took him a little longer to mesh with the offence and pick up the play book. Now he seems to be finding his stride and he’s a load. He’s tough to bring down.”
“I started slow,” Cimankinda said of his season. “We started with nine running backs and we had a lot of injuries. I just waited for my time and I stepped up. I just waited for my time and when it came, I produced.”
Cimankinda is the younger brother of Gryphon defensive lineman Alain Cimankinda which has made this season extra special for the pair.
“We’ve never played (on the same team) together,” Jean-Paul said. “This is our first time playing together. I was always looking forward to this because I knew at one point we’d play together and now here we are.”
Cimankinda’s performance was the best by a Gryphon running back since Johnny Augustine gained 245 yards on 35 carries in a 33-21 win over the Carleton Ravens in the 2015 semifinals.
Running backs with big performances in the playoffs seems to have become a Gryphon thing in recent years as Rob Farquharson gained 232 yards on 25 carries in a 51-26 win over the Western Mustangs in the 2014 semifinals.
Quarterback Theo Landers connected on 16 of 23 pass attempts for 240 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception.
While the Gryphon defence surrendered 34 points and 553 yards of total offence to the Warriors, they did harry Waterloo quarterback and sacked him five times.
“We dug deep today,” Gryphon linebacker Luke Korol said. “We just practised so hard this week and we had this mentality that the guys brought together. It’s such a close-knit group that I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that we were going to come out with the win.”
The victory was the second consecutive Saturday win over Waterloo at Alumni Stadium. They prevailed in double overtime a week earlier to clinch a third-place finish.
“There are pros and cons,” Galloway said of playing the same opponent on consecutive weekends. “We both showed a lot the first time because we wanted to win. We just kind of relied on playing a sound game of football this time around and trying to win the line of scrimmage.”
“To play a team two weeks in a row is super tough,” Gryphon linebacker Luke Korol said. “Especially in football, there’s so much prep going into it. It’s like a chess game. What you prepare for and do one week, you’ve got to do a whole another game plan the next week. To come out with not the same pieces is pretty hard. That other team obviously has a chip on the shoulder after they lose in a double OT loss.”
The Gryphs advance to play the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the semifinals. That game is to go in Ottawa Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Gee-Gees scored a 12-10 victory over the Gryphs at Gee-Gees Field in regular-season play Sept. 8.
Gryphons 45 Warriors 34
Guelph, FG, Ferraro (36 yds), 5:20
Guelph, TD, Landers (26-yd run), Ferraro kick good, 7:22
Waterloo, TD, Ternowski (55-yd pass from Ford), Girard kick good, 8:10
Guelph, TD, J-P. Cimankinda (14-yd run), Ferraro kick good, 12:33
Waterloo, TD, Ford (5-yd run), Girard kick good, 4:33
Guelph, TD, J-P. Cimankinda (6-yd run), Ferraro kick good, 8:54
Waterloo, TD, Ford (39-yd run), Girard kick good, 13:58
Guelph, TD, J-P. Cimankinda (2-yd run), Ferraro kick good, 14:48
Guelph, TD, Belyk (29-yd pass from Landers), 2-pt convert failed, 2:23
Waterloo, TD, Nketiah (18-yd pass from Ford), Girard kick good, 8:21
Guelph, TD, Bresciani (21-yd pass from Landers), Ferraro kick good, 0:37
Guelph, Rouge, Ferraro, 4:48
Waterloo, TD, Metz (17-yd pass from Ford), 2-pt convert failed, 10:23
First Downs: Guelph 27; Waterloo 29
First Downs via Passing: Guelph 14; Waterloo 11
First Downs via Rushing: Guelph 12; Waterloo 17
First Downs via Penalty: Guelph 1; Waterloo 1
Total Offense: Guelph 524; Waterloo 553
Total Offensive Plays: Guelph 59; Waterloo 69
Average Gain Per Play: Guelph 8.9; Waterloo 8.0
Net Yards Passing: Guelph 240; Waterloo 295
Completions-Attempts: Guelph 16-23; Waterloo 25-33
Net Yards Per Pass Play: Guelph 10.4; Waterloo 8.9
Sacked (no.-yds): Guelph 0-0; Waterloo 5-29
Had Intercepted: Guelph 1; Waterloo 0
Net Yards Rushing: Guelph 284; Waterloo 287
Rushing Attempts: Guelph 36; Waterloo 31
Average Gain Per Rush: Guelph 7.9; Waterloo 9.3
Punts (no.-yds): Guelph 5-226; Waterloo 5-163
Punting Average: Guelph 45.2; Waterloo 32.6
Total Return Yards: Guelph 98; Waterloo 175
Punt Returns (no.-yds): Guelph 4-14; Waterloo 4-24
Kickoff Returns (no.-yds): Guelph 5-84; Waterloo 7-130
Interception Returns (no.-yds): Guelph 0-0; Waterloo 1-21
Penalties (no.-yds): Guelph 8-64; Waterloo 11-118
Fumbles (no.-lost): Guelph 1-1; Waterloo 2-1
Sacks (no.-yds): Guelph 5-29; Waterloo 0-0
Interceptions (no.-yds): Guelph 0-0; Waterloo 1-21
Time of Possession: Guelph 28:41; Waterloo 31:19
Rushing (no.-yds): Guelph — J-P. Cimankinda 29-256, Landers 2-26, Belyk 1-3, Lassenba 1-0, Jeffrey 3-minus 1; Waterloo — Ford 11-150, Pellerin 18-145, Metz 1-2, Girard 1-minus 10
Passing (rec-att-yds-td-int): Guelph — Landers 16-23-240-2-1; Waterloo — Ford 23-32-295-3-0, Girard 1-0-0-0-0
Receiving (no.-yds): Guelph — Belyk 5-93, Schaffer-Baker 6-84, Bresciani 3-38, Chase 1-16, Brennan 1-9; Waterloo — Ternowski 7-112, Nketiah 5-60, Pellerin 4-48, Lam 4-30, Kernick 1-23, Metz 1-17, Niel 1-8
Field Goals (made-att): Guelph – Ferraro 1-1; Waterloo – Girard 0-0
Converts (made-att): Guelph – Ferraro 5-5; Waterloo – Girard 4-4
Rouges: Guelph – Ferraro 1; Waterloo — none
Punts (no.-yds): Guelph – Ferraro 5-226; Waterloo – Kernick 4-124, McConnell 1-39
Kickoffs (no.-yds): Guelph – Ferraro 7-347; Waterloo – Girard 6-312
Kickoff Returns (no.-yds): Guelph – Smith 3-47, Chase 1-25, A.Cimankinda 1-12; Waterloo – Kernick 5-93, Ternowski 2-37
Punt Returns (no.-yds): Guelph – Smith 3-14, Diorio 1-0; Waterloo – Metz 2-16, Lam 2-8
Interception Returns (no.-yds): Guelph — none; Waterloo – Melo 1-21
Fumbles (no.-lost): Guelph — J-P. Cimankinda 1-1; Waterloo — Ford 1-0, Girard 1-1
Sacks (no.-yds): Guelph — Kalenga 1-0, A.Cimankinda 1-0, Murphy 1-0, Brodie 1-0, Robinson 1-0; Waterloo — none
Tackles (solo-assisted): Guelph — Korol 8-5, Aketepe 8-1, Murphy 6-3, Brodie 6-3, Jafs 3-1, A. Cimankinda 3-0, Robinson 2-2, Kalenga 2-1, Richards 2-1, Reinhart 2-1, Knowles 2-0, Wilson 1-2, Allen 1-1, Corfield 1-1, J-P. Cimankinda 1-0, Mirijello 1-0, Beeksma 0-1, Diorio 0-1, Lack 0-1, Mielczarek 0-1; Waterloo — Reid 8-3, J.Hinsperger 7-2, Mooney 4-0, Melo 3-3, Pallotto 3-1, Wheten 3-0, Jupiter-Dean 2-2, Frecha 2-1, Gray 2-1, Merlin 1-1, D.Hinsperger 1-1, McConnell 1-0, Lesage 1-0, Sealy 1-0, Brissett 1-0, McTamney 1-0, Perak 0-1.