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Gryphs return home and find endzone in win over Waterloo

GUELPH – It seems like there’s nothing quite as good as the feel of the home turf for the Guelph Gryphons.

Buoyed by their home crowd at Alumni Stadium and two touchdowns by Clark Barnes, the Gryphons scored their second home-field win of the OUA football season Saturday night as they defeated the Waterloo Warriors 27-10.

Guelph Gryphons 27 Waterloo 10

“At home I’m a lot more comfortable,” said Barnes who scored his touchdowns on an 11-yard catch-and-run play with quarterback Shawn Lal and a 108-yard kickoff return. “We had the crowd behind us so it was really good to be back and I felt great.”

The other TD was scored by Kiondre Smith who hauled in a Lal pass on a play that started at Waterloo-s four-yard line.

Those TDs were the first for the Gryphs since their season-opening 23-21 win over the Western Mustangs at home Sept. 25.

All the other points for the Gryphs Saturday came from kicker Eric Stranz who converted all three TDs and booted field goals of 40 and 50 yards.

A combination of the return TD by Barnes and Waterloo’s QB Tre Ford, the OUA’s player of the year in 2018, getting knocked out of the game by the rock-solid Gryphon defence took the wind out of the Warriors’ sails.

“The weird year continues,” said Gryphon head coach Ryan Sheahan. “What we’re getting out of our team right now is championship-calibre defence and we’ve got a great kicker. We’re a little inexperienced in some key spots. The quarterbacks are giving it their all, but getting really good at offensive football takes time. We’ve had a few injuries and we’ve had to deal with that, but tonight was about perseverance and battling and all three of them brought something different to the ball game so I’m proud that we won the game, but I think that it wasn’t pretty tonight and we’re still a work in progress. We’ve got to get back to work in a serious way to prep for Toronto.”

The Gryphons did use all three of their QBs. Lal completed eight of 14 pass attempts for 100 yards and the two touchdowns. He was intercepted once and sacked once. Deandre Rose completed two of five pass attempts for two yards and he was sacked once. Ettore Casati III completed three of five pass attempts for 32 yards.

Lal and Rose also had two carries apiece, with Lal getting seven yards and Rose three.

Guelph’s defence yielded 191 yards rushing and 176 yards passing to the Warriors while the Gryphons gained 96 yards rushing and 134 yards passing. Those numbers were more a statement on Guelph’s offence than its defence.

“Our defence has been great — elite all year. (They’re) probably one of the best in the nation, for sure. I think the best,” Barnes said. “We need to move the ball a lot more to help them out for sure. Offence, we’re going to have to pick it up, still.”

Seven players had carries for the Gryphs, led by Kwame Osei with 12 for 34 yards and Jeremie Kankolongo with four for 41 yards. Ross graduate Teo Jean-Gaston had two for one yard.

Barnes caught six passes for 92 yards while A.J. Chase caught two for 19 and Smith’s lone catch was for his TD. Centennial grad Drake Davis had one catch for 13 yards and St. James grad Jakob Tomas had one catch for one yard.

Defensively, Jared Beeksma had 12 tackles including a sack for a loss of 10 yards and Anthony Moretuzzo had 10 tackles and a breakup. Kristian Stewart had five tackles including a sack and another tackle for a loss of three yards and he also had an interception with a four-yard return.

Ben Lack and Uriel Kalenga also had interceptions.

Stranz had 11 punts for an average of 39.1 yards and three of them pinned Waterloo inside its own 20-yard line. He missed two field goals, but they weren’t as noticeable as the misses by Waterloo kicker Cole Crossett whose consecutive field goal attempts struck an upright. They came three and a half minutes apart in the second quarter from distances of 31 and 32 yards.

Barnes returned two kickoffs for 127 yards and Smith returned six punts for 83 yards.

The result certainly tightened up the standings in the six-team West Division as all but the Western Mustangs and McMaster Marauders are at 2-2 with two games to go. Western’s at 3-1 and McMaster’s at 1-3. The Gryphs, Waterloo, Laurier Golden Hawks and Windsor Lancers are all at 2-2.

“It’s a very tough division. The OUA is always a tough conference, but the situation we’re in playing in the West,” Sheahan said. “It looks like it’s anybody’s ball game and Western seems to be the front-runner at the moment. This is going to be an interesting couple of weeks of OUA football, so let’s see where we land. All that matters now is the game against Toronto next week.”

Waterloo was the third team ranked in the top 10 when they faced the Gryphs this year. Western was ranked No. 1 when they lost at Alumni Stadium Sept. 25 and Queen’s was ranked No. 6 when they defeated the Gryphs 14-8 in Kingston Oct. 8.

The Gryphs have two games left on their regular season. They’re to host the Toronto Varsity Blues Saturday at 1 p.m. at Alumni Stadium and play the McMaster Marauders in Hamilton at McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.

Toronto is at 2-2 and in a three-way tie for second in the OUA East. Queen’s leads at 5-0 while the Ottawa Gee-Gees are at 2-2, Carleton Raves are at 2-3 and the York Lions are at 0-4.

Top four in each division qualify for the playoffs.


Guelph Sports Journal