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Western vs. Carleton 20181103
WESTERN 39, CARLETON 13
WESTERN MUSTANGS GRIND DOWN CARLETON RAVENS IN YATES CUP SEMI-FINAL
By Paul Vanderhoeven, London Free Press
The Western Mustangs expected a battle in Saturday’s Ontario university semifinal against the Carleton Ravens at TD Stadium and that’s just what they got — at least in the first half.
The Ravens, who lost 26-23 in overtime to the defending Vanier Cup champions in their season opener, kept the Mustangs offence in check for much of the first half, but the Stangs defence proved even stronger, allowing them to pound out a 39-13 win after being held to just 12 points in the first half.
Ravens’ defensive back Jon Edouard intercepted Mustangs quarterback Chris Merchant twice in the first half — once in the end zone. And the Ravens front four — Kene Onyeke, Fred Robitaille, Tevin Bowen and Vince Viau-Duval — did an excellent job containing the run in the first half, but the Mustangs would eventually wear them down.
“Our offensive line coach J-P Circelli compared it to the Rocky Balboa films — at first it’s going to be a slugfest,” Mustangs running back Alex Taylor said. “The plan was just to grind them out. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy right out of the gate. They have a talented athletic defence. Their guys up front . . . are good football players and difficult to run the ball on. So we knew at first it was going to be . . . difficult.”
Taylor caught one touchdown and rushed for 127 yards, but also had two fumbles. Cedric Joseph ran for two touchdowns and 97 yards.
Head coach Greg Marshall gave full marks to the Ravens defence, but added the Mustangs offence was also a little sloppy with turnovers.
“We just made a few mistakes,” Marshall said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. If you are going to try to grind the ball out, you’ve got to control the ball. You can’t be putting the ball on the ground.”
The Ravens defence was good, but the Mustangs defence was even better.
Mitchell Stadnyk recovered a fumble on Carleton’s 10 yard line to set up Joseph’s first touchdown, giving the Mustangs a 12-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
Fourth-year defensive back Mackenzie Ferguson, from London, had two interceptions and Mustangs third-year defensive back Bleska Kambamba, also from London, had one interception.
The Mustangs also forced the Ravens to settle for a field goal in the final seconds of the first half after Carleton had first-and-goal on Western’s two-yard line.
“Overall our defence was just rock solid. The points (the Ravens) got were off turnovers that our offence served up,” Marshall said. “I thought that our last game against Laurier might have been our best defensive effort, but this one might have been even better than that.”
The Mustangs made some adjustments at halftime and their ground game quickly picked up traction.
Ferguson’s second interception was the back-breaker for the Ravens. He picked off quarterback Michael Arruda on Carleton’s 50-yard line and ran it back 35 yards to set up Joseph’s second touchdown and stretch the Mustangs lead to 22-6 midway through the third quarter.
Ferguson said the Mustangs felt pretty sound defensively after the first half and that it was just a matter of time before the points started to go on the board.
“We knew our offence was going to eventually take over,” Ferguson said. “Our offence is really good at wearing teams down.”
Ferguson said although it took some time to break the Ravens down, the Mustangs are a much better team than they were in the season opener.
“I think the big thing that’s happened both this year and last year is that we’ve gotten better pretty much every single week and we always build off our mistakes.” he said. “We went back and we watched video from our first game against Carleton and we are a completely different team. . . . We’ve just got to get better every week from here on out. ”
The Mustangs will play host to the Guelph Gryphons’ in Saturday’s Yates Cup game at TD Stadium at 1 p.m. The Gryphons rallied from an 18-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Gee-Gees 27-22 in Ottawa.
Western didn’t play Guelph this season, but Marshall has a pretty good idea of what to expect from the longtime OUA rival.
“I know that they can run the football. I know that they’ve got a really good defence,” Marshall said. “They are kind of like us on offence — they want to grind the ball on the ground and throw play-actions. . . . We’ve had some great games with Guelph in the past, so we’d expect this to be no different.”
Mustangs 39, Ravens 13
Western: Chris Mechant 17-30, 2 TDs, 2 interceptions; Alex Taylor TD, Harry McMaster TD, Cedric Joseph 2 TDs, Marc Liegghio field goals of 38, 37 and 33-yard field goal, team safety
Carleton: Michael Arrude 16-33, TD, 2 interceptions, fumble; Quinton Soares TD, Mike Domagala field goals of 12 and 29 yards.
Yates Cup: Guelph at Western, Saturday, Nov. 10, 1 p.m., at TD Stadium
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