Volume 95, Issue 10

Tuesday, September 18, 2001
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Fumbles mar Mustang victory over Laurier

Men's soccer start perfect

The Western who?

'Stangs record continues to improve

Ruggers pull out one point win

Fumbles mar Mustang victory over Laurier

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

Beth Kerim/Gazette
ALL THAT'S LEFT IS THE BREAKDANCING. Western's Michael Bonk displays his elegant and agile footwork during Western's rout of Laurier on Saturday.

It was the day of the butter fingers.

In a game where seemingly every player was unwilling to take ownership of the football, the Western Mustangs rode their defense to a 35-10 victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks Saturday at TD Waterhouse Stadium.

The win boosts the Mustangs flawless record to 3-0, while the Golden Hawks dropped to a meager 1-2.

Saturday was a coming-out party for first-time starting quarterback Chris Hessel. He completed 16 for 33 passes for 316 yards and one touchdown to wide receiver Christian Heffernan. The only blemishes on his dream day was four interceptions, but Mustang head coach Larry Haylor credits these to butter fingers.

"Even the interceptions that he threw were pretty well thrown," Haylor said. "There was competition for the ball. We didn't get it, and we have to get a couple more of those."

Both teams' slippery ways began on the opening kickoff, when Mustang rookie linebacker Tom Norris recovered a Golden Hawks fumble, leading to a Western field goal. This was the beginning of the day-long rout, where the Mustangs never seemed threatened.

Golden Hawks head coach Rick Zmich was adamant about his young squad's inexperience.

"We are a young offense," Zmich said. "When you make a mistake like the opening kickoff and your quarterback fumbles the ball, you keep the defense on the field."

The majority of those yards were thrown the way of athletic phenomenon Heffernan. The second-year receiver caught two balls for 99 yards and if it wasn't for a highly questionable call, Heffernan would have grabbed a whole bunch more. The new kid on the football scene didn't just catch routine balls, but made some highlight-film grabs.

Yet Heffernan said his education is ongoing.

"Last year was the first-year of football in my life," Heffernan said. "Every game is a brand new experience and I'm just learning how to do things."

The defence was led by linebacker John Hammoud (two sacks and a recovered fumble), linebacker Darryl Fabiani (four tackles), linebacker Jason Congdon (five tackles and a sack) and defensive back Kevin Mackey (four tackles).

The swift feet of the Mustang defense made Ryan Pyear, the Golden Hawks rookie signal-caller, run for his life. He consistently found himself outside the pocket, scrambling from the beasts hunting their prey. Haylor said the defense makes victims of players like Pyear.

"Any good defense in this league – and ours is a good defense – can isolate the quarterback," Haylor said. "We basically said to Pyear, 'you're going to have to throw it' and that worked in our favour."

The Mustangs didn't just dominate the Golden Hawks on the scoreboard, they sent psychological shock waves through their ranks.

The humiliation sent one victim to insanity. Golden Hawk defensive back Ryan Brown spent the final minutes idiotically jawing at the Mustang sideline, forcing him to miss his defensive assignments and appear lost. The Mustang response was simply arms raised, pointing to the scoreboard.

Western hopes to be in a position to do more scoreboard pointing when they face the potent McMaster Marauders next Saturday in Hamilton.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001