September 23, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 14  

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TD Waterhouse gets its first Homecoming win
Solyen catches TD pass in thrilling OT

By David Lee
Gazette Staff

Dave Picard/Gazette
INTERCEPTION WITH STYLE. The Mustangs' Chris Murphy returns an interception 25 yards for a score during the second quarter of Saturday's Homecoming game. The Mustangs won the game 41-38.

TD Waterhouse Stadium has finally been christened with a Homecoming victory.

In a game Western head coach Larry Haylor called "as close as we can get to a must-win game," the Mustangs did not disappoint. After heartbreaking Homecoming losses the last two years, the Mustangs football team won a hard-fought overtime game against the Ottawa Gee-Gees 41-38 on Saturday afternoon.

After ending regulation time in a 35-35 deadlock, the game moved into the Canadian Interuniversity Sport version of OT, whereby each team begins its possession on the opponent's 35 yard line. Following an Ottawa field goal, the Mustangs had to manage at least three points to stay alive. Instead, Haylor made a gutsy call to go for the win and even the Mustangs' record at 2-2.

Haylor didn't hesitate in making his OT gamble. "The game had been so back and forth - it seemed to me it was a 'win it or not win it' moment. [The coaching staff] said 'OK, we're going to give our guys a chance on third and goal to win it' and let them make a play and they made it."

Ottawa head coach Denis Piche didn't see Haylor's gambit as a back-breaker. "You never win or lose a football game on one play," Piche stated. "To the people in the stands it might be so, but anyone that knows football knows [it doesn't]. We should have put the game away in the first half. We never did and it came back to haunt us."

Western running back Drew Soleyn was thrilled to score the game-winner but was quick to put his catch in perspective. "We got a win. That's the most important thing," Soleyn said. "I saw the ball and thought 'That's the game.' I didn't even realize it until I was mobbed by everyone else. I was like 'Oh right, we just won.'"

The game also featured standout play from rookie running back Randy McAuley. After performing the national anthem with his brothers - London ensemble The McAuley Boys - the youngest McAuley had two key 4th quarter possessions, including a 17-yard touchdown that brought the game to a 35-all tie. "I was thinking, 'We need to put this one in the end zone,'" McAuley said, when asked about his tying score. "We got in the huddle, gave some assignments and we punched it in."

Soleyn believes McAuley will have a bright future. "Randy's really talented and he's going to be something special. He came in and had two huge runs that brought us to the point that we could win the game."

Western quarterback Chris Hessel echoed Soleyn's sentiments. "He's an excellent athlete with great speed. You're going to see him in the game a lot more, I think."

Dave Picard/Gazette
THERE'S A PARTY GOIN' ON RIGHT HERE, A CELEBRATION TO LAST THROUGHOUT THE YEARS... Kool and the Gang wasn't in attendance at Western's Homecoming game on Saturday, but after Drew Soleyn's game-winning TD, the party was on.

Western's special teams were also key in helping the Mustangs edge the Gee-Gees. First-year player Nick Kordic blocked a key Gee-Gee field goal attempt late in the game to preserve the tie and send the game to OT.

The game also saw Hessel set a new Western career passing record with 5,850 career yards. Hessel surpassed Mike O'Brien, who previously held the mark with 5,553 career yards. Additionally, Hessel's two touchdown strikes put him in a tie for the Mustang career touchdown record of 39, a mark he now shares with Jamie Bone.

What will likely be remembered years from now is the nail-biting excitement of OT. Haylor had further impressions of what could become known as Western's version of "The Catch" meant for his team: "It probably lifted us as much as we could have possibly hoped."

Piche added his thoughts as well: "If we would have stopped them, people would have questioned his call and said it was the worst call in the world. It worked, so it's the best call in the world. That's what coaching is all about. I'm not surprised he made that kind of call. I think [Haylor's] proved over the years that he wants to win."




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