Guelph Gryphons’ season ends with semifinal setback
HAMILTON – The Guelph Gryphons’ OUA football season hit the end of its road Saturday on the Les Prince Field at McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium when they suffered a 19-9 semifinal loss to the McMaster Marauders.
“I thought we had some chances in the game to be productive in the game and to win,” Gryphon coach Ryan Sheahan said. “Had we not got stopped inside the five here – it’s funny that we’re standing right next to it – then it really would’ve changed the last two minutes of the football game. You’ve got to commend McMaster. They played tough, but we came in here with a different plan and it was working for the most part. Play tough defence, try and run the football on some heavy sets and take that great pass coverage that they’re used to out of the game. I’m proud of coach (Stevenson) Bone and coach (Adam) Suryea for implementing that all week. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough.”
The Gryphons did get the ball to the McMaster two-yard line with just over two and a half minutes to play, but couldn’t get the ball into the endzone. McMaster took over and the Gryphs kept them to a single first down, forcing the Marauders to concede a safety about a minute later. That gave the Gryphs the ball back at their own 35. They did get the ball into Mac territory, but an interception of a Theo Landers pass at the Mac 30 by Lucas Bill effectively ended the game.
“When you’re behind and you put all your time into running the football, you have to throw at the end and it’s going to start to look sloppy,” Sheahan said. “I’m proud of our quarterback. Boy, did he hang in there and take a licking at the end. It just showed that his character has toughness.”
The Gryphs left the field knowing that they had put everything they had into the game.
“The kids battled their butts off. I’m proud of them. Defence, 7-5 at half,” Sheahan said. “I’m really proud of our team. We really battled hard this year. We practised hard in the cold, sick, wet, tired, injured. We have every reason to be proud.”
Two touchdowns in the third quarter put McMaster ahead. The Gryphs had trailed 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, but took a 7-5 lead into the locker rooms at halftime after Juwan Jeffrey scored a touchdown on a two-yard run with 1:28 to go in the half. That would be the final TD of the season for the Gryphs as they were later stopped on the five-yard line as they attempted to come back in the fourth quarter.
McMaster shot ahead for good with their two third-quarter touchdowns, one on a 55-yard run by quarterback Andreas Dueck 2:42 into the second half and the other on a 24-yard pass-and-run play between Dueck and tight end Blake Reason with 19 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Each team conceded a safety while the kickers had the other points — Eric Stranz with a convert for the Gryphs and Adam Preocanin with two converts and a 31-yard field goal. He also missed two field goals that Gryphon returner Jason Richards got out of the endzone and had another one blocked by Dotun Aketepe.
McMaster had 421 yards of total offence with 216 in the air and 205 on the ground. The Gryphs had 262 with 142 in the air and 120 on the ground.
The Gryphs were also assessed 104 yards on seven penalties while McMaster took nine penalties for a loss of 55 yards.
“If I make comments about the officiating, it’s only going to sound like I’m whining,” Sheahan said.
Several Gryphons used up their fifth year of eligibility this season. According to the roster on the Gryphon website, those who were in their fifth year this season were quarterback Landers, receiver Kade Belyk, offensive lineman Eric Starczala, linebacker Job Reinhart, defensive lineman Greg Corfield and defensive back Akeem Knowles.
All of those in their fifth year of eligibility are also in their fifth year of academics while others in their fifth year of schooling include quarterback Dante Djan, fullback Lukas Brennan, offensive lineman Spencer Swan, linebacker Josh Cassista and defensive lineman Daniel Fascione.
A total of 17 other Gryphons are in their fourth year of academics including nine who are also in their fourth year of athletic eligibility.
The players who have used up their athletic eligibility in the sport are left to contemplate their future in football.
“First I need to get my body right,” Landers said. “It’s been a long season. First I need to clean up the bruises and then see what opportunities arise. If the opportunity arises, I definitely want to take my football to the next step. It all depends on the type of opportunities I get. If I do get an opportunity to play at the next level, it’s something I’m definitely going to take.”
“Hopefully I’m going back to training camp with the Argos,” Starczala said. “I know the invite was open when I left, but they’ve got a new GM and I don’t know what’s happening there, but hopefully I’m back there and hopefully I can make the squad. If not, I’d like to get into coaching.”
Where would that be?
“I have no idea, but if it opens obviously I’d come here first,” he said. “This would be my first choice.”
Reinhart is a two-sport athlete at the U of G and will begin working out with the varsity wrestling team next week.
“All I know now is that I’m going to wrestle on Monday,” he said of his future.
As for the players returning for the 2020 season, they’ll take a bit of time to rest up and recuperate before beginning their off-season workouts. Their next on-field action will be at the team’s spring camp next April.
Marauders 19 Gryphons 9
- Guelph Sports Journal