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Volume 91, Issue 29

Tuesday, October 21, 1997

Something fishy


Mustang defence cages Gryphons: football team takes over first in division.

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
I WANT TO GET A PIECE OF THAT BODY. Mustang Eddie Reading [41] and the rest of the defence spent Saturday getting their hands, with great success, on Guelph quarterback Nathan Body.

By Ian Ross
Gazette Staff

GUELPH – Through a crystal ball, Saturday's match-up between the nation's top two teams, the Western Mustangs and the Guelph Gryphons, was predicted to be a game won in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter. Instead, Western proved the psychics wrong, trouncing the team 34-8 in an unexpectedly lopsided battle at Guelph's Alumni Stadium.

Ranked No. 1 in the country with the top offence and defence in Ontario, the Gryphons were shut down on both sides of the ball by a quickly-maturing Western squad.

"We were firing on all cylinders: offense, defence and a good kicking game today," Western co-captain Bernie Tessier said. "This is the way Western can play, it's a shame that some weeks we don't do it all."

Scoring 27 points before allowing a Guelph score, Western offence consistently marched down the field overriding a defence that had given up only 59 points in their previous five games.

A new captain at the helm of the purple machine, second-year quarterback Mike O'Brien, led the charge completing nine of 15 passes while handing off to running back Mike Lazslo 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns.

"Michael [O'Brien] has done a nice job of leading us," Western head coach Larry Haylor said. "He has a great arm, gets the ball to people and the receivers have confidence in him."

Collecting 26 first downs, the offence spent most of the game strolling down the field – the direct result of a powerful Mustang defensive squad that forced Guelph to punt time after time.

"We played as a team," All-Canadian defensive end Roger Dunbrack said. "The secondary played great and the front four played their best all season. We knew what they were going to do, it was just a matter of executing better than they could."

Giving up only five turnovers in their first six games, Guelph's offence was unable to hold back a defensive Western attack that continually kept the Gryphons out of scoring position while also collecting three fumbles and two interceptions – matching all of Guelph's previous opponents.

"The game plan was to play with a positive field position," Haylor said. "We had to do that by not giving them the ball and by getting the ball ourselves. A lot of our good offence was a product of our good defence."

Starting tackle Dennis Meston played his strongest game of the season falling on two of the team's three fumble recoveries, while defensive backs Todd MacKay and Jeff Heslop grabbed one interception each. The Western 'D' allowed only 78 yards on the ground and 181 in the air to Guelph's top-rated offence.

"Defence was the big key," Haylor stated. "They have a very good offence that is capable of scoring. Roger Dunbrack and Sean McBurney got to the quarterback early, created a couple fumbles, took [Nathan] Body off of his rhythm and made a big difference in the football game."

Guelph quarterback Body, who led the league in passing yardage with 1,386 yards going into the weekend, failed to get any sort of drive together until the fourth quarter when the game was long out of reach.

"On the first look there was nothing there, but by the time I got a second look [the Western's defence] was usually on top of me," he said.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997