Guelph Gryphons leave York behind in final quarter
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons erupted for more than half of their points in the fourth quarter as they left the York Lions behind in OUA football play Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
“It’s still ugly, but we’ll take it,” Gryphon head coach Ryan Sheahan said.
The Gryphs scored 27 points in the final quarter, including three touchdowns in a stretch of just less than five minutes, on their way to a 53-19 victory. That outburst put an end to any thoughts of a York comeback and those thoughts looked like a real possibility when the Lions narrowed a 17-point gap late in the second quarter to a single-touchdown difference (26-19) with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter.
“I sound like a bit of a broken record, but we’re still a work in progress,” Sheahan said. “We’re still learning what to do and when to do it right offensively. Thank God we’ve got tremendous play from special teams and great field position on their behalf, too. And the defence is playing tough. The defence is playing tough. You know other than a real big play down the sidelines, and that’s football, the defence had a hell of a game.”
As had been the case in the previous two games, the defence and special teams contributed to the scoring. For the third game in a row Clark Barnes returned the opposition’s first kickoff of the game for a touchdown. This one went 82 yards. Rookie linebacker Justin Lauzon returned an interception 58 yards for Guelph’s third pick six of the season.
Guelph’s offence continued to sputter and the fourth-quarter output was more connecting on big plays than sustained drives. The Gryphs’ TDs in the fourth quarter came on drives of two or three plays. Longest drive of the game was nine plays that ended with a 30-yard TD pass from Theo Landers to Barnes. They also had a drive of six plays, but gave the ball up on downs.
In the fourth quarter, Kian Schaffer-Baker (12 yards), Abdraman Abdel-Rahim (44 yards) and A.J. Chase (six yards) caught TD passes from Landers. Schaffer-Baker’s was set up by a 39-yard pass to Kiondre Smith while Landers had a 26-yard run in the drive that led to Chase’s TD.
The Gryphs finished with 242 yards passing and 152 came in the fourth quarter as did six of the 14 receptions they had in the game.
Guelph also had a safety in the game and Eric Stranz collected the remainder of the points as he converted all four touchdowns and kicked field goals of 35, 34 and 42 yards.
“We’re just a one-week-at-a-time group,” Sheahan said. “We know that this is the OUA and it’s really competitive and anybody can play well. York was with us there for a bit and it was looking like they were just about to take over the third quarter.”
Gryphon players can expect to do a lot of extra running or possibly climbing the hill on the east side of the field as a message that penalties will not be tolerated. They were whistled for 17 penalties that resulted in a loss of 157 yards. By comparison, York had nine penalties for 76 yards.
“Don’t worry, we’ve got a drill or two to address that,” Sheahan said. “Staying disciplined down the stretch is going to be important because those penalties can come back to haunt you.”
Luther Hakunavanhu scored both of York’s TDs in the third quarter on passes from quarterback Brett Hunchak. The first one went for 20 yards and the second one went for 75 yards.
While York’s offence was mainly an aerial attack, it was almost exclusively that way in the second half as the Lions attempted 22 passes and six rushes and three of the rushes came in the final minute of the game.
The win lifts the Gryphs into a tie at 2-1-0 with the McMaster Marauders and Toronto Varsity Blues. The Western Mustangs lead at 3-0-0 while the Waterloo Warriors are at 2-0-0. Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees are both at 1-1-0 while the Laurier Golden Hawks and Windsor Lancers are at 1-2-0 and York and the Queen’s Gaels are at 0-3-0.
The Gryphs are to play the Warriors at Waterloo Saturday at 1 p.m.
“We’re going to put this one behind us, learn from our mistakes and we’re on to Waterloo,” Sheahan said.
Next home game is Sept. 21 when the Gryphs are to host Western. Game time is 1 p.m.
Gryphons 53 Lions 19
- Guelph Sports Journal