Junior Gryphons lose their steam in varsity setback

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The Guelph Junior Gryphons ran out of gas in the second half as they were handed a 41-29 setback by the Ottawa Sooners in Ontario Provincial Football League Varsity Premier play Saturday night at Alumni Stadium.

After leading by eight points at halftime, the Junior Gryphs were outscored 28-8 in the second half.

“It wasn’t really adjustments (made by Ottawa),” Guelph coach Matt Nesbitt said. “What it is right now is that physically we got worn down and physically they’re a good team. We didn’t execute in the second half the same way we did in the first half. I believe our coordinators put our players in very good positions and I don’t believe adjustments were any part of it. We got tired and we’ll fix that going forward. We’ve got to make sure we build a program that physically we’re better. That’s what I saw. I don’t think it was adjustments or anything like that.”

“We just kind of lost our edge,” quarterback Dakota Brown said. “The energy wasn’t very good.”

The hosts led 7-1 at the end of the first quarter and 21-13 at halftime before Ottawa shot ahead 34-21 by the end of the third quarter.

Ottawa opened the scoring with a single on a punt by Owen Clement before the Junior Gryphs went ahead two plays later when quarterback Brown connected on a 60-yard scoring play with receiver Clark Barnes. Eric Stranz kicked the convert.

“We came out and we executed the way we wanted to,” Nesbitt said. “We made the big plays when they had to be made, when the opportunities were there. That just didn’t happen in the second half.”

The Sooners grabbed two more points when the Junior Gryphs conceded a safety late in the opening quarter.

The Junior Gryphs had a touchdown called back due to a holding penalty early in the second quarter. They came away with no points when back-to-back penalty calls took them from possession at the Ottawa 19 back to the Ottawa 38. They were just two of a number of penalties the Junior Gryphons took in the game.

“We’re trying to clean that up,” Nesbitt said. “The hardest thing for us is that we want our players playing in a specific way, playing with good emotion. There’s always that gray line between the two. We’re definitely going to reinforce to make sure that stuff doesn’t happen.”

“Penalties kind of killed us,” Brown said. “We left a lot of points unscored and we should’ve drove the ball better and we should’ve had better intensity.”

Ottawa quarterback James Keenan found Willi-Pierre Dimbongi wide open for a 30-yard scoring play midway through the second quarter. Josh Streng kicked the convert.

The Junior Gryphs got that one back right away when Barnes returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown. Stranz kicked the convert.

The locals added to their lead late in the quarter when Brown plunged in under the pile from a yard out with a touchdown that had been set up by run by Tanner Nelmes. Stranz kicked the convert.

Ottawa cut the gap with just over a minute to go in the opening half when Streng kicked a 35-yard field goal.

The gap fell to a single point early in the third quarter after Liam Paquette ran 40 yards on a fake punt for a TD for Ottawa. Streng had the convert.

Jean-Paul Cimankinda barged his way into the Guelph endzone from two yards out to put Ottawa ahead for good with six minutes to go in the third quarter. Streng kicked the convert. The Sooners had gained possession on a blocked punt.

Ottawa added to its lead in the final minute of the quarter when Dimbongi caught a five-yard touchdown pass. Streng converted.

The Gryphs gave themselves a chance with two and a half minutes to go in the game when Brown scored his second TD of the game on a keeper and Kenneth Morris caught a two-point convert pass.

However, Ottawa completed the scoring in the game in the final minute when Cimankinda ran 15 yards around the right side for the TD. Streng booted the convert.

Brown completed 12 of 29 pass attempts for 241 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once. Tommy Nield caught five passes for 65 yards and Barnes caught two for 77 yards and one touchdown. Luke Walton caught two passes while Jack St. Hilaire, Morris and Juwan Jeffrey caught one apiece.

Brown also had six carries for 29 yards while Nelmes had four for 25. Jackson Taylor carried the ball four times for three yards and Nield and Jeffrey each had one carry.

On defence, Brandon Ferigo had 11 tackles, Tavius Robinson had 10 and a sack and Andre Gordon had seven tackles. Other sacks were recorded by Antonio Webb and Garrison Pyle while Keontae King and Al-Ameen Shipeolu each had an interception.

The result leaves the Junior Gryphs in the basement of the West Division at 1-3-0 while Ottawa leads the East Division at 4-0-0.

The standings are based on points and Ottawa has 10 and Guelph has two. Teams get three points for a win over a divisional foe and two points for a win over a team in the other division.

The Gryphs are to host the Essex Ravens (2-1-0) June 17 at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.


Junior Varsity

The Junior Gryphons were handed a 47-7 setback by the Ottawa Sooners at Alumni Stadium Saturday.

Ottawa led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, 14-0 at halftime and 33-0 after the third quarter.

The Sooners gained 235 yards and scored two touchdowns passing and had 212 yards and one touchdown rushing. They returned four punts for 194 yards and two touchdowns.

On defence, Ottawa had 69 tackles, three sacks, four fumble recoveries and five interceptions. They scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery and another on an interception return.

Junior Gryphon stats were not reported.

Guelph is 0-4-0 on the season while Ottawa is 4-0-0.

The Junior Gryphs are to host Essex Ravens (3-1-0) June 17 at 3 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.



The Junior Gryphons dropped the Orangeville Outlaws 40-30 Saturday at Alumni Stadium.

Game details were not available.

The Junior Gryphs are 3-1-0 in the regional rep league while Orangeville is 1-3-0.

Guelph is to host TNT (1-2-0) June 17 at 12:30 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.