Volume 94, Issue 19
True tests coming up
Insert your cliché here.
Western's luck finally ran out. What goes around, comes around. The clock finally struck 12 on the Mustangs' Cinderella undefeated streak. Whatever the catchy phrase, the end result remains the same. Western 37, Wilfred Laurier 38.
Just as Western's first two games had been decided in the final seconds, so was this clash of the fifth and sixth ranked teams in Canada. But this time it was the Western defence that got burned when time expired.
A peek at the statistics show things went alright. Quarterback and kicker Michael O'Brien, put on another solid performance, passing for almost 300 yards. Runningback Fabian Rayne, rediscovered last year's form and rushed for nearly 100 yards. Even the defence forced a couple of turnovers. But unlike the last three weeks, all the intangibles, all the little breaks went the Laurier way.
This time it was Laurier charging down the field, finally scoring on the game's last play and adding the conversion point for the win. Maybe Lady Luck was just getting even with the Mustangs, who seemed to be living with a horseshoe firmly implanted up their collective rear ends over the last few weeks. More than likely, the little cracks in Western's previously undefeated football team finally became exposed.
While most critics spent the first three weeks criticizing the inexperience of the offensive line, the real area of concern may turn out to be the defence. The new linemen who have complemented veteran offensive guard Mike Chuk, have slowly come into their own, helping Rayne finally step into the limelight against Laurier. With the emergence of the running game, Western suddenly has something substantial to complement their passing game, which has amazed this season.
But when it came time for the defence to make the big stop, when it was the defence's turn to steal a game, they made Laurier quarterback Andrew Lane look like Joe Montana as he brought the Golden Hawks down the field to a last second touchdown.
Of course, now is certainly not the time to sound the death chime at TD Waterhouse Stadium. While the bubble finally burst on Western's hopes for a win, the mere fact that they remained competitive with Laurier proves they are among the best in Ontario. Now we will find out how they respond to defeat.
Tough games against Waterloo, Queens and MacMaster loom on the horizon. The Mustangs cannot get the last two seconds of the Laurier game back now, so there is no use worrying about what has passed. If they truly want to prove their Vanier dreams are in fact realistic, they must prove it over the next few weeks. If they can sweep these games and improve to 6-1, we can justify high hopes for this squad.
Anything less and we may have to settle for another marginally good season which ends in playoff defeat.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000