Volume 95, Issue 28
Tuesday, October 23, 2001
Western steps into high gear
'Stangs got swagger for playoffs at home
By Dave Martin
The doubters quietly grumbling behind the backs of the Western Mustangs football team have been growing louder throughout the entire season, but Saturday afternoon, every one of them was left speechless.
Underdog Western came out and, from start to finish, controlled the country's third ranked Ottawa Gee-Gee's winning by an impressive 29-15.
The Mustangs have been criticized their slow starts this season, but were galloping at the kick-off Saturday, scoring two touchdowns in the first five minutes off a 70-yard Chris Hessel bomb to wide-out Christian Heffernan and an exciting drive capped by a 10-yard touchdown scamper by running back Drew Soleyn.
Head coach Larry Haylor was extremely impressed with the outcome of the game and how his team responded to the challenge of the national champions.
"On both sides of the ball we did a heck of a job today. I was really pleased with our tenaciousness and our physical play up front. There was a lot today that we can build from, producing confidence throughout the team. And confidence kind of gives us a little swagger, which is something we needed," Haylor said.
Already having home-field advantage clinched in the playoffs, Ottawa was sitting a fair number of their starters, but head coach Andy McEvoy wasn't about to use that as an excuse.
"We did have a lot of starters staying healthy on the bench, but that's no reason for the outcome. They took advantage of their opportunities and we didn't, especially in the first half. We threw a few picks that were bad balls and turned out to be very costly," McEvoy said.
Haylor said the interceptions and fumbles played a major role in the end result.
"Turnovers, I think, were the biggest difference we created more than they did. Our ability to establish a very strong running game opened up a lot of opportunity for us as well," Haylor said.
His point is evident when one takes a casual look at the stat-sheet and notices Soleyn's 167 rushing yards on 26 carries. First-year fullback Mike Bonk also scored a rushing touchdown, showing how the Western frontline had a field day on their Ottawa counterparts.
Even with Western's big-name players taking their game full-throttle, it was little, 5'9," 160 lbs. defensive back Brian Tock who was the team's spark plug, pulling in two interceptions and stripping an Ottawa receiver of the ball, causing another turnover.
Coach Haylor was full of praise for Tock after the game.
"Brian was outstanding. He made some big tackles and I thought even in the first half alone, he had made a game's worth of big plays," Haylor said.
Tock, who was thrilled just to get the chance to play, was quite excited about the momentum boost the team will now be riding into the playoffs.
"Today we proved to every team out there that we are ready to go. If we play like this, we're going to be a tough team to beat, especially here at home," Tock said.
The win gives the Mustangs home field advantage next week in the first round of the OUA playoffs against their rivals from Waterloo. Game time is 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon at TD Waterhouse Stadium.
I GET THE DISTINCT FEELING I'M FORGETTING SOMETHING. Kris Aiken and the rest of the Mustangs got off to a running start and didn't stop, beating Ottawa 29-15.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001