Volume 92, Issue 37
Tuesday, November 10, 1998
Mac attack just misses upset
© Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
BY IAN ROSS
Football is a game of inches and that is exactly how close the Western Mustangs came from an early playoff exit at the hands of the McMaster Marauders on Saturday.
With nothing to lose after a 12-year absence from the playoffs, Mac threw everything but the kitchen sink at Western in the Ontario University Athletics semifinal match-up and came within two points of the biggest upset in team history, losing 34-32
Western defensive coordinator Bob LaRose said the game was the Mustangs' biggest playoff victory since the 1994 Vanier Cup, when Western went to overtime to take the national title from Saskachewan.
"I think this can be considered a confidence builder," LaRose said. "They proved that with the chips down they can come forward and make the big plays."
After a quiet first half, both teams exploded in the second frame of a see-saw battle for the lead which changed hands six times. McMaster primarily a passing team all season established a balanced attack with quarterback Ben Chapdelaine going to the air 29 times for 261 yards and running back Chris Dorrington rushing for 205 yards.
"It seemed that keeping the offence on the field was our best defence," LaRose said, of Western's inability to control McMaster's potent scoring attack.
Western countered with their dominant running game. Scott Crawley had 189 yards on the ground with a touchdown, while Fabian Rayne punched in four more majors the third time he has done so this season.
Marauder head coach Greg Marshall, emotionally drained after taking his team to the brink of victory, had trouble putting a finger on the turning point of the game. A time-out miscommunication which prevented a field goal opportunity at the half for Mac and a broken play which resulted in an interception by Mustang Adam McLeod, were two plays he said he would love to have back.
"It's always tough when 90 per cent of your plays are good. Unfortunately it was a two point game and you will always look back to the plays that didn't work," Marshall said.
Western quarterback Mike O'Brien said he fully expected a tough battle with McMaster and as the game wore on, he knew the outcome would come down to one factor. "There was a definite feeling that who ever had the ball last would win," he said.
And that is exactly what happened. Near midfield with seconds remaining in the game, Mac's Ben Chapdelaine threw the ball up in a Hail Mary attempt and Mustang defensive back Jamie Ewert came down with the ball and the game.
Western's opponents in next week's Ontario championship, the Yates Cup, will once again be the Waterloo Warriors who blew away the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks 32-10 in the other OUA semifinal.
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