Volume 96, Issue 15
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

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Blocked conversion costs Mustangs Homecoming win

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

Niru Somayajula/Gazette

GET ON UP BROTHER. Brian Tock (22) leaps into Chris Aiken's (3) arms after intercepting the ball against McMaster

If you've ever watched a season finale of Survivor or a Mike Tyson boxing debacle, you know the hype before hand is usually on par with the second coming of Christ, but then fizzles into a sea of despair.

The Homecoming classic between Western and the McMaster University Marauders, however, was all it was billed to be and more.

The Marauders defeated the Mustangs 38-37 at TD Waterhouse Stadium on Saturday afternoon in a roller-coaster affair even a Playstation 2 Theme Park lackey couldn't envision.

Marauders running back Kyle Pyear darted in to the end zone with eight seconds remaining to tie the score and kicker Mike Ray subsequently kicked the extra-point convert through the uprights to secure the victory.

The Mustangs attempted an on-side kick, but it was to no avail.

"This game was awesome," said Marauders head coach Greg Marshall. "You have to give credit to Western – they have an outstanding offensive attack and we have our work cut out for us if we are going to stop [them] in the future."

Mustangs receiver Christian Heffernan, who scored two touchdowns and accumulated 147 receiving yards, added the game probably did wonders for Western football.

"I hope it brought [our fans] back," Heffernan said. "I think with last years' loss at Homecoming we lost a bunch of [the fans]."

The contest started with the Marauders quickly sending a message to the Mustangs that they were for real. Pyear leaped over the Mustangs defensive line for a touchdown and four minutes later, quarterback Jon Behie tucked the ball under his arm, eluded a missed Mustang tackle at the line and rumbled into the end zone

Before you could say "Mac's attack is wack," the Marauders were ahead 14-0.

The Mustangs, however, refused to quit and exploded for two counter attacks, the first, a two yard smash through the line by fullback Michael Bonk and the second, a 58 yard reception for Heffernan. Marshall said he was concerned about his secondary's performance against the rangy Mustangs receivers but didn't realize how bad it would be.

"I was concerned [about our secondary]," Marshall said, "but I didn't think we would have that many problems. We got a little timid and [the Mustangs] took advantage of it."

The second half brought no reprieve for the Marauders coverage core. Quarterback Chris Hessel connected with rookie phenom receiver Andy Fantuz on a 22 yard strike at 2:58 of the third quarter.

After McMaster responded with a score, Hessel hit Heffernan once again for a 77 yard touchdown reception, capped by a sweet rendition of the high step through the end zone.

The game seemed in order for the Mustangs until McMaster defensive back Kwame Aidoo intercepted a telegraphed Hessel pass and returned it 30 yards for the score. Pyear said the interception decided the game.

"Kwame's pick was definitely the turning point. We needed that – I fumbled the ball and Kwame saved my butt," Pyear said.

Marshall summed up the victory very simply: "We fortunately had the ball last at the end of the game."

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2002 THE GAZETTE