Junior Gryphs win, lose in close OPFL championship tilts
LONDON – The Guelph Junior Gryphons claimed the title in one of the two Ontario Provincial Football League championship matches they participated in Sunday at Western University’s TD Stadium.
The Junior Gryphons battled the York Region Lions in both the regional bantam and regional junior varsity finals.
The Guelph side took the regional junior varsity final 30-21, but were edged 28-27 by the Lions in the regional bantam final.
Regional Rep Junior Varsity
The win in the regional junior varsity final kept Guelph’s win streak alive as the championship win was the 10th consecutive victory by the Junior Gryphons. Their lone loss came in their season opener when they were edged 13-10 by the Toronto Jets.
The Junior Gryphons never trailed in the final. Keyon Robinson opened the scoring as he found the endzone on a 60-yard pass-and-run play with quarterback Niko Jean-Gaston with around three and a half minutes to go in the first quarter.
York connected for a touchdown later in the quarter, but the convert was blocked to give the locals a 7-6 lead at the end of the quarter.
Guelph had the lone TD of the second quarter as Jean-Gaston hit Karzaih Mati for a 10-yard scoring play in the final minute of the half. Nixon added the convert.
After a scoreless third quarter, York tied it in the opening minute of the fourth quarter with a touchdown and two-point convert.
The tie didn’t last long, though, as Benjamin Cottrell returned the ensuing kickoff 104 yards for the go-ahead score and Nixon added his third convert of the match.
The Junior Gryphons added to their lead about three minutes later as Mati hauled in a pass and ran down the right side of the field for a 41-yard scoring play and Nixon remained perfect on his championship-game convert attempts.
The Gryphons completed the scoring when Jesse Garvin was credited with a safety.
Jean-Gaston was named the Game MVP while the offensive player of the game award went to Cottrell.
Regional Rep Bantam
The Junior Gryphons had won six consecutive games before the regional bantam championship setback.
The Junior Gryphs went for a two-point convert following a touchdown with just over two minutes to go in regulation time, but it was tipped away from the grasp of a Guelph receiver.
The locals had gone ahead early when Owen Ellis had a two-yard TD run on fourth down with 3:10 to go in first quarter. Carson Taylor added the convert.
York tied it on a 40-yard scoring run and convert on the final play of the opening quarter.
The Junior Gryphs went ahead again with five minutes to go in the first half when Owen Pavia scored on a one-yard QB sneak and Carson Taylor kicked the convert.
However, York tied it again in the final minute of the first half when they Lions recovered their own fumble in the Guelph endzone on a play that started on the five-yard line of the Junior Gryphons. The convert was good.
The Lions shot ahead with a touchdown on a 40-yard flea flicker and ensuing convert with six minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Junior Gryphons pulled even about a quarter later on Kaden Butt’s TD catch on a 10-yard play. Carson Taylor booted the convert.
Just over a minute and a half later, Myles Grosse scored a TD on a 34-yard run to the right and the convert was good.
Owen Taylor closed the gap to the final single-point margin when he just got the ball into the endzone on a five-yard run.
Ellis was judged to be the offensive player of the game.
- Guelph Sports Journal