Volume 94, Issue 38
Tuesday, November 18, 2000
Turn out the lights, the party's over
GET'EM NEXT TIME, KID.Wide receiver Ryan Chisholm took a moment to absorb a season-ending defeat at the hands of the Laurier Golden Hawks.
By Joel Brown
The Western football team's 2000 season came to an abrupt end Saturday at the hands of the Laurier Golden Hawks, but not without a little controversy.
The Mustangs were knocked out of the first-round of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs for the second consecutive year, by a 30-6 count thanks to the suffocating play of the Golden Hawks defence.
But according to Western head coach, Larry Haylor, Laurier's defence may have had an unfair advantage working in their favour.
"They had an amazing capacity to know what we were doing. If I didn't know better I might suspect something," Haylor said.
"It got to the point where we turned our phones off," he said, making reference to the communication between himself and the coaches in the upstairs press box, who often called offensive plays.
"I don't know, maybe it was indicative of how well prepared they were. But there was one play where they knew we were running a reverse even before we ran the play. When they were yelling reverse, reverse [to warn their teammates] I was thinking to myself 'I don't believe this.'
"I want to know what they knew. We must have been flashing neon signs."
When Laurier head coach, Rich Zmich heard Haylor's comments, he broke down laughing. "If there's any inference of foul play, I can assure you there was none," Zmich stated.
The Mustangs offence was never able to get off the ground. Quarterback Mike O'Brien was unable to find any rhythm with his receivers all day. He completed only 15 passes on 40 attempts for 169 yards, while being intercepted three times. Fullback Fabian Rayne was also held in check, gaining 18 rushing yards on nine carries.
"I don't think we had much finish," Haylor said. "We just didn't play nasty. I don't know what we didn't have today, but whatever it was we just didn't have enough."
Western was able to keep the Golden Hawk lead to 9-0, coming within three points after two field goals early in the third quarter. After that, the gates flew wide open. Fresh off an interception by Laurier defensive back Kevin Taylor, running back Justin Praamsma ran into the endzone on a 6 yard run.
Laurier's next touchdown came just 97 seconds later when wide receiver and punt returner Andrea Talbot, ran back a punt 66 yards for a touchdown, bringing the score to 23-6.
"They lobbed it in the air to Talbot with two of our guys all over and he still got it. We struggled just to get the ball to our people," Haylor said.
Praamsma then ran it in for his second touchdown of the day.
"They were considerably better than us today," Haylor conceded.
Towards the end of the game, things got ugly as Western was nailed with a number of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Haylor said he thought the pressure may have finally gotten to his troops.
"That's the problem with being us, everyone has a cause," he said. "Frustration is a very difficult thing to deal with. It's not the easiest thing to deal with. I think we did a great job of continuing to play."
"It's just some frustration that gets out in the heat of battle," Zmich said, of the rough play. "Emotions run high in sudden death situations. I don't think it's a reflection of the character on the [Western] team at all."
Western linebacker, John Hammoud, who had an outstanding game, said the heartbreaking loss outweighed any happiness that came from his breakthrough performance.
"It hurts," he said. "We've worked all year for this opportunity but today just wasn't our day. We've just got to hope for next year."
O'Brien, who has now exhausted his eligibility, said he has an eye on the future and hopes to one day take his outstanding kicking skills down south.
"Obviously the NFL is the best league in the world," he said. "Eventually I'd like to play at the best level in the world as a punter."
He added he will never forget his Western football experience. "It's something I can look back on and be proud of the accomplishments I achieved. But the thing I'll cherish the most are the people I met."
Copyright © The Gazette 2000