Mustangs Send A Message Through Marauders
Western Mustangs FootballJohn Urban
The last time the Western Mustangs played at home was early in November last year, when they put up a record 75 points in a 75-32 Yates Cup victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks. They would be back in action on TD Stadium turf late Saturday afternoon for their 2018 Home Opener hosting the McMaster Marauders. The last time these two teams encountered each other was McMaster’s 2017 home-opener at Ron Joyce Stadium, where the Mustangs prevailed 29-14. Both teams were coming off of games in our nation’s capital with mixed results: in Week #1 Western needed overtime to comeback from a 20-3 first half deficit to beat the Carleton Ravens 26-23 and McMaster lost 18-11 to the Gee Gees last week thanks to Ottawa’s 61-yard touchdown pass with 2:28 left in the game.
A healthy crowd of freshman students, along with devoted alumni, with the Western marching band and national-winning cheerleading squad was a welcomed sight for the defending Vanier Cup Champions. They would not disappoint, putting a few questions to rest after their Week #1 performance in the process by stomping out the Marauders 44-6. Western’s defense looked a lot like their #1 ranked defense in the nation in 2017, holding McMaster to two Adam Preocanin field goals and with London, Ontario native Daniel Valente Jr. grabbing two interceptions in the second half. After grabbing an interception in his first game, senior linebacker Fraser Sopik led Western in tackles with 6 total, it was McMaster’s Nate Edwards who led all tacklers with 8. The Marauders starting sophomore quarterback Jackson White, but went to their other sophomore QB Andreas Dueck in the second half, neither had a successful day at the office combining to complete 14 of 34 pass attempts for a total of 183 yards.
Last year’s Dalt White Trophy winner Cedric Joseph led all Mustangs in scoring gathering 3 rushing touchdowns on 103 yards, while Alex Taylor added to a lethal ground game with his first rushing touchdown of 2018. Mr. Automatic for the Mustangs Marc Liegghio who went 4/4 for field goals in Week #1, continued to display perfect kicking hitting all three field goals and nailing 5 extra-points, for a 14 point contribution. The game was put away when Harry McMaster caught his second touchdown of the season on a 55-yard bomb thrown by Chris Merchant with 46 seconds left in the first half to give the Mustangs a 27-3 lead. Merchant finished the day as Radio Western Player of the Game completing 78% of his passes for 351 yards, 1 touchdown throw and 0 interceptions.
With the Waterloo Warriors losing at home to the Carleton Ravens 21-18, the Western Mustangs and Laurier Golden Hawks with records of 2-0 are the only undefeated teams left in the OUA after Week #3 of action. The Warriors will have an opportunity to hand the Golden Hawks their first loss next week on Saturday in the Battle of Waterloo. After suffering their second straight loss, McMaster will host the Toronto Varsity Blues next game at Ron Joyce Stadium in hopes of getting back in the win column. The Western Mustangs will look to push their undefeated streak to an astonishing 15 games next week when they play the York Lions at TD Stadium with a 1pm kickoff scheduled for Saturday.