Volume 92, Issue 11
Monday, September 22, 1998
Mustangs caught running for their lives
By John Intini
The Western Mustang football team rode on the back of its running game Saturday afternoon in a huge 38-30 come from behind victory over Wilfred Laurier.
With a respectable crowd on hand for the home opener, the Mustangs (2-0) found themselves in the hole on a number of occasions, with the largest margin a 30-14 deficit early in the second half.
"We weren't up," Mustang running back Fabian Rayne said. "I don't know if it was Laurier or it being so early in the season, but we just didn't get our heads in it 'til late."
Rayne would provide the majority of the Mustang scoring, rushing for 131 yards and three big touchdowns, including the eventual game winner.
Coming off Ontario University Athletics' player of the week honours, Mustang quarterback Mike O'Brien had a tough time in the early going, throwing three interceptions. This determined he had to turn to his running backs for the majority of the Mustang yards.
"It was obvious that the passing just wasn't there today but our backs give me a great option," O'Brien said. "When the running game is effective, the play-action is always a big help to get the pressure off me and give me a chance to complete passes."
Rayne, who led the charge from the backfield, was joined by Scott Crawley, all-purpose man Raymond Krumme and Craig Higgins, all contributing huge yards on the ground in the comeback.
After tying the score late in the fourth, a bad exchange on the snap brought about a missed extra point, leaving the game up for grabs.
"That was a big play," Mustang head coach Larry Haylor said. "We had a chance to win the game there but it's early in the season and mistakes like that are going to happen."
On the next drive the Mustangs were able to quickly shut down a typical second half Laurier offensive series, earning excellent field position. With time ticking down on the clock and the Mustangs near the mid-field, quarterback Mike O'Brien decided to take matters into his own hands. Following some lead blockers, the gutsy O'Brien pivoted, reacting to a broken play, tucked the ball under his arm and took it down the field for a huge gain.
"All I was thinking about was getting the first down," O'Brien said. "We had worked our way back in the game and I just turned up field and saw some room."
O'Brien's big run would set up Rayne's eventual game winner.
The Mustangs caught a break in the literal sense when both quarterbacks on the Laurier side fell victim to injuries. Starter Adam Lane, who played a solid quarter and a half (7-12, 107 yds., 1 TD) had to be replaced late in the second by Kevin Taylor when Lane broke his collarbone. According to Zmich, Taylor was not even supposed to see the field this week based on the broken thumb on his throwing hand. The thumb had made passing a chore for last season's completion percentage leader.
"I looked down the bench when Lane went down and just hoped a quarterback would magically appear," Zmich said. "We didn't want to use Taylor this week for fear of aggravating his thumb even more than it already is. We just didn't have a choice."
For Larry Haylor, the win was a true indication of the depth and strength of his team.
"Last week we won the game in the air with Mike's passing and this week we turned the running game loose," Haylor said. "As a coaching staff we have to get a little more aggressive with our passing selections but these two games have shown that we have a solid balanced attack."
The Mustangs will head to Toronto (0-2) next week to take on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in the last homecoming to be held at Varsity stadium.
Laurier FG O'Hara 27 yd 3:48
Laurier TD Fleming 42 yd pass from Lane (O'Hara convert) 4:55
Western TD Rayne 1 yd run (Fricano convert) 8:44
Laurier TD Dillon 3 yd run (O'Hara convert) 11:36
Western TD Rayne 9 yd run (Fricano convert) 9:34
Laurier TD Grant 17 yd pass from Taylor (O'Hara convert) 11:06
Laurier FG O'Hara 33 yd 14:09
Laurier FG O'Hara 22 yd 2:02
Western FG Fricano 14 yd 6:38
Western TD Crawley 9 yd run (Fricano convert) 0:14
Western TD Disley 15 yd pass from O'Brien (missed convert) 7:36
Western TD Rayne 15 yd run (Fricano convert) 14:45
Western Fricano 65 yd single 14:45
"We just got a lot of bad breaks."
Laurier head coach Rick Zmich on describing the injuries of his two quarterbacks.
"If I could have any quarterback in all of Canada I would take Mike O'Brien."
Mustang running back Fabian Rayne.
¥ Defensive back Adam McLeod made a huge interception on a tipped pass that changed the momentum in the game, setting up Fabian Rayne's second touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
¥ Running back Mike Laszlo had to sit out his second consecutive game with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Mike O'Brien 11-20, 174 yards, 1 TD, 3 Int.
Kevin Taylor 10-21, 183 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int.
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