By in sports on Sep 24, 2017 |
Western HC Greg Marshall - Media Scrum
Western RB Alex Taylor - Media Scrum
Western K Marc Liegghio - Media Scrum
Western OL Matt Bettencourt Post-Game
Western OL David Brown Post-Game
Western DL Jimmy Hawley Post-Game
Western DL Jake Karroum Post-Game
Western LB Nick Vanin Post-Game

After a 2+ hour lightning delay, chased away the majority of fans from the Mustangs 2017 Home Opener, a thrilling game which Western prevailed over the Guelph Gryphons 41-34 in overtime.  The undefeated football team had yet to get an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of a big home crowd.  That changed Saturday evening as the (4-0) Western Mustangs hosted the (0-3) Queen’s Gaels for Blackout at TD Stadium, a true university sports environment; bands, cheerleading squads, horses, fireworks and a great crowd to take it all in.  The Mustangs even sported a new look, controversial to old school ideology, but perfect for the occasion.  Black uniforms with deep purple numbers and helmets, made an undefeated football program look that much more intimidating running onto the field.  Western stepped up in the added spotlight, crushing the Gaels 48-10 to remain undefeated in the OUA season. 

The home team set the tone and got the fans loud early taking all of 2:07 off the clock to make it 7-0.  Quarterback Chris Merchant ran for a 6-yard TD, his 4th rushing TD of the season capping off a 6-play 85-yard drive to start the contest.  Just over 3 minutes later, Merchant threw to Running Back Alex Taylor for a 9-yard TD pass to make it 14-0, Merchants 6th TD throw of the year.  Taylor, who sat out Week #4 at Windsor, now had his 2nd receiving TD of 2017 and with 9:13 left in the 1st quarter he was far from done.  After Queen’s conceded a Safety to make it 16-0, the home team orchestrated a masterful time consuming drive.  Taking 4:06 off the clock to go 74 yards on 8 plays, with Merchant throwing to Taylor again, this time for a 3-yard TD pass to make it 23-0 after the one quarter of play.  A large part of the success in the opening quarter, was thanks to the 69 yards on 4 catches from Wide Receiver Harry McMaster, who just like Taylor, was also out of commission for Week #4 action at Windsor.    

Queen’s responded in the 2nd quarter with their best 15 minutes of the evening and tried to keep the crowd from being a factor.  Dartmouth, Nova Scotia Kicker Nick Liberatore broke the shutout 36 seconds into the frame, hitting a 34-yard Field Goal to make it 23-3 and fellow Sophomore Kicker Marc Liegghio responded 6:33 later for Western, nailing a 20-yard Field Goal to make it 26-3.  The Gaels had their best drive of the game before halftime, as Quarterback Nate Hobbs led the away team 73 yards down the field in 2:50 on 7 plays.  Allowing Queen’s to obtain their first major of the game, a 2-yard TD pass to Wide Receiver Alex Zuyls.  The well executed play action, allowed Hobbs his 4th TD throw of the season and the Toronto, Ontario born Senior in Zuyls his 1st TD catch to bring the score to 26-10.  With things getting a little quiet in the stands at TD Stadium, Marc Liegghio saved face for his team, splitting the uprights from 40 yards away with 1:15 left before halftime to make it 29-10.     

Defense came out strong for both teams in the second half, as a 20-yard Field Goal from Marc Liegghio to make it 32-10 was the lone scoring play of the 3rd quarter.  However, the depth of Western’s offense proved too much for the Gaels tired defense in the last quarter of play, as the Mustangs tacked on another 16 points.  Winnipeg, Manitoba native Alex Taylor penciled himself in as the Radio Western Player of the Game, getting his 1st rushing TD of the season 18 seconds into the 4th.  An incredible 35-yard run, for his 3rd TD of the game made it 39-10.  Taylor finished the night with 184 yards rushing on 13 carries, plus another 50 yards on 5 catches, for a total of 234 yards and 3 TDs.  Marc Liegghio finished the game with three straight, long range Field Goals to bring the damage up to 48-10.  The Woodbridge, Ontario born Kicker had a memorable game, going a perfect 6 for 6 in field goals (20, 40, 20, 45, 45 and 42).  22 of the 48 points produced from Marc’s leg, another 18 by Taylor's hands and feet to lead the Mustangs to victory. 

As these two teams head in polar opposites, it sets up a battle in the basement and a battle at the summit in Week #6 of OUA Football action.  The winless Gaels find themselves in unfamiliar territory since the year 2000, Pat Sheahan’s first season at the helm as Head Coach, in a 1-7 rebuild.  They’ll take their 0-4 record to Windsor next week to take on the 0-5 Lancers, a game from Alumni Field featuring the only two winless teams in the OUA left in 2017.  The spotless 5-0 Mustangs are right where many predicted they would be at the start of the season at this point.  However, they face their toughest task of the season next week takings on the 4-0 Laurier Golden Hawks in Waterloo, Ontario for their Homecoming in a battle of the only undefeated teams left in the standings.  It's also a rematch of last year’s Yates Cup, whose purple will be better on Saturday from University Stadium starting with the 1pm kickoff?  Find out right here on your original voice of the Western Mustangs Radio Western.