Big upset as Windsor
beats Mustangs... again
By Mike Burton
The Western Mustangs football team was utterly shocked when they lost to the Windsor Lancers in their first game of the 2003 season. Well, guess what? It happened again.
The Mustangs lost again to the Lancers, this time when the stakes were infinitely higher. They went down in defeat 21-18 Saturday afternoon at TD Waterhouse Stadium in one Ontario University Athletics quarter-final.
The Mustangs, who played extremely well defensively, were unable to come back late in the fourth quarter and watched as Windsor went on to win their first playoff game since 1975.
Western's defense came up big on numerous plays, including an interception and a forced fumble in their own red zone. Defensive lineman Chad Asseltine had an exceptional game on defense, picking up three sacks on Windsor quarterback Jon Dent.
Asseltine, who was described by head coach Larry Haylor as "the most consistent guy up front," felt the defense played very well together.
"Everyone was there for each other," Asseltine said. "Until the final whistle, we felt we had this game."
Western had the ball on the Windsor 35 yard line with under one minute left in the game, but was unable to capitalize.
The Mustangs had some big plays, including what would have been a touchdown if it wasn't called back because of a penalty. The referees also made several unnecessary roughness calls that penalized the Mustangs and cost them crucial field position.
The crowd even got on the referees' backs following an interception call in Windsor's end zone. From the stands, it looked as though the ball bounced before being caught and the fans felt this was the case and expressed their opinions as chants of "bullshit" echoed throughout the stadium. The end result, however, was another turnover by Western and ultimately, turnovers had the biggest impact on the final outcome of the game.
Saturday's game marked Windsor's second visit to TD Waterhouse Stadium this season - both visits resulted in wins for the Lancers. Prior to this season, the Mustangs had a 37-8-1 record against Windsor.
"The rivalry is on," said Lancers head coach Mike Morencie. "Tonight we're gonna savour this."
Windsor is going on to the second round of the playoffs for only the first time in 28 years and will travel to Hamilton to take on the McMaster Marauders. These are the same Marauders that just eliminated Waterloo from the playoffs in a 70-7 thrashing. Morencie admitted Windsor will have a big mountain to climb.
The Mustangs finished the regular season in fourth place with a 5-3 record, yet their early departure from the playoffs is unsettling for many of the players, coaches and fans. Quarterback Chris Hessel, who has one year of eligibility remaining, described this season as "surreal," referring to the team's bipolar performance.
"We'd be hot for a couple of plays, then we wouldn't do anything," Hessel said. "[Today] we stumbled as an offense, but the defense was great."
Throughout the season, the Mustangs showed signs of excellence on both sides of the ball, but were unable to gain much momentum from it.
Haylor also felt the team struggled at times this season by not playing well in all phases of the game, but described the year as one of transition.
"We have high standards and expectations," Haylor said. "And regardless of how critical people are of us, they're not nearly as critical as we are of ourselves."
In his 19 years of coaching the Mustangs, Haylor has never had a losing season.
The season may be over for the Mustangs but the team can still take many positive things away from it. Chris Hessel and Andy Fantuz were second in Ontario University Athletics in passing yards and receiving yards respectively and defensive back Chris Ullerick had the second-most interceptions through the season.