Comeback sends Western to Yates Cup at Guelph

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

There is shock coming from the rest of the Ontario University Athletics after the Western Mustangs football team traveled to Ottawa on Saturday and took down the previously unbeaten Ottawa Gee Gees.

The Mustangs scored first, as Derek Schiavone kicked a 17-yard field goal 4:46 into the first quarter. They also caught a break as Ottawa’s fifth-year kicker Ara Tchobanian hit the uprights on his first field goal attempt of the game from 25 yards.

The Gee Gees made amends later in the half by putting up three field goals to go along with a 36-yard touchdown scamper by running back Davie Mason, who finished the game with 163 rushing yards before he was forced to miss most of the second half with a left ankle injury.

A Western single rounded out the team’s scoring for the rest of the half, and the visitors trailed 16-4 going into the locker room.

Their chances looked bleak, as third-year pivot Michael Faulds tossed two interceptions in the first 30 minutes and running back Randy McAuley was struggling. It seemed like a 12-point comeback against the OUA’s elite was unlikely.

After being badly outplayed both on offence and defence in the first two quarters, Western came out gunning in the second half. Faulds connected with veteran receiver Dave Clayton for a 62-yard touchdown pass to make the score 16-11 Ottawa with 3:28 to go in the third stanza.

“We knew that coming out in the second half it was a do or die for our season. Mike threw some great balls and it all came together for us,” Clayton said.

The defence did its part as well, as it held Ottawa scoreless in the second half.

The Purple and Silver took the lead when Faulds found Clayton again for the last of his nine catches for 219 yards. The 48-yard touchdown stab made the score 17-16 for Western with under two minutes to go in the game.

The final score was 23-16 after Western linebacker John Surla recovered a last- second fumble for a touchdown.

Head coach Greg Marshall always held faith that Western could bounce back after starting the season 0-4 " he even thought his team could find provincial success.

“Well I have a pretty wild imagination, so yeah,” he said.

It looked like the Mustangs were on pace for one of their worst seasons ever. A 49-0 drubbing of Windsor in week five " combined with the return of defensive leader Matt Carapella " turned the season around.

Western has gone on the road and pulled off second-half comebacks in two consecutive weeks. The squad will take the momentum into the Yates Cup final at Guelph this Saturday, against a Gryphons team that upset the Laurier Golden Hawks by a score of 38-31.

The last time these teams met the Gryphons won 31-17 in week four.

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