The Western Mustangs will face the greatest test of their perfect season thus far in a road matchup against the Waterloo Warriors on Saturday afternoon.
In four games this season, Waterloo has played the Windsor Lancers, Toronto Varsity Blues, Carleton Ravens and Laurier Golden Hawks — with their only loss coming to the now 3–1 Ravens.
After dropping the disappointing 21–18 decision to Carleton, the Warriors came back strong, winning the battle of Waterloo against the Golden Hawks last weekend.
Aside from ruining their rival’s perfect record, Waterloo’s victory last Saturday over Laurier was their first over the Golden Hawks since 2002.
The game ended in familiar fashion for the Warriors: on the backs of second-year quarterback Tre Ford and third-year wide receiver Tyler Ternowski.
In the final three minutes of the game, Ford found Ternowski for an 88-yard touchdown reception, giving the team a two-point lead that they would not relinquish.
Thus far, Ford has led U Sports in three major offensive categories — passing yards (1,557), passing touchdowns (15) and completions (102). The second-year player also currently sits second in passing yards per game with an average of 389.3.
The quarterback has also been productive on the ground. When stacked against the entire league, including running backs, Ford ranks fourth in the nation with 316 total rushing yards.
For reference, Western’s Cedric Joseph is third in that same ranking with 323 yards (Ford played one game more than Joseph, however).
Even in the world of sports hyperboles, it may be an understatement to say Ford has carried the Warriors to their current 3–1 record.
To be fair, the quarterback has received help Ternowski, who has established himself as the team's number one passing target.
Ternowski leads the league in a number of receiving categories, including yards per game (171.3), total receiving yards (685) and receiving touchdowns (8).
In their game against the Golden Hawks, the duo exhibited the reason behind their heavy reliance on offence.
Ford threw for 472 yards, ran for 86 yards and tossed three touchdown passes. Ternowski, his partner in crime, hauled in 10 receptions for an astounding 251 yards and one touchdown.
Playing Robin to Ford and Ternowski’s collective Batman is Gordon Lam. The second-year wide receiver ranks fourth in the league in receiving yards, with 375 and has tacked on two touchdowns of his own.
While the passing attack has been dominant so far this season, the Warriors running game has been dormant. Waterloo’s starting running back, Dion Pellerin, has yet to score a touchdown and averages just 52 rushing yards per game — about 45 yards behind his quarterback’s average.
On a team with record setting offensive numbers, the third-year halfback has ranked nineteenth in the nation with 208 total rushing yards.
The Warriors defence has shown some weakness to this point in the season. Through four games, Waterloo has coughed up a collective 108 points for an average of 27 points allowed per game. In comparison, Western has allowed only 10.7 points per game.
Playing a Mustangs offence fresh off of two consecutive 40-plus point games, Waterloo may be in trouble from a defensive perspective.
The Western Mustangs will look to defend their undefeated record Saturday afternoon at Warrior Field in Waterloo at 1 p.m.