The Western Mustangs rolled over the York Lions 76-3 on Saturday afternoon to improve to 3–0 on the season.
The Mustangs game plan was changed before the first whistle blew on Saturday afternoon, as York's star wide receiver Colton Hunchak appeared inactive on the team sheet.
The defensive game plan altered even earlier in the second quarter when York’s starting quarterback, Brett Hunchak, was forced to leave with an injury. Western’s head coach Greg Marshall spoke with York’s coaching staff and noted that the opposing quarterback is likely fine.
While the Mustangs already led by a score of 17–3 upon Hunchak’s exit, the game exploded late in the first half.
In the final eight minutes of the second quarter, the Mustangs scored four touchdowns, two of which were converted from over 50 yards away.
The first of the Mustangs big-play touchdowns was scored by Cedric Joseph. The running back burst through a gaping hole in the line and was untouched en-route to a 57-yard score. The fourth-year player celebrated his fourth touchdown of the year by gifting a young fan his game-used arm-bands in the back of the end zone.
Joseph’s backfield partner, Alex Taylor, also jumped in on the big-score excitement. However, instead of scoring on the ground, quarterback Chris Merchant found the fourth-year running back for a 55-yard touchdown reception.
Integral to both of these plays was the dominant performance of the Western offensive line. After a rough first game against the Carleton Ravens three weeks ago, the unit had their best game of the season Saturday afternoon. The line consistently opened rushing holes, and Merchant was only sacked twice on the afternoon.
The Mustangs were equally as impressive on the defensive side of the ball. In total, the Mustangs defence racked up four interceptions and three sacks.
Two of the four interceptions were hauled in by fourth-year defensive back Mackenzie Ferguson. Interestingly, both interceptions would eventually lead to scoring drives.
Bleska Kambamba also picked up an interception of his own and returned the ball for a defensive score. The pick was a bit of a relief for the third-year defensive back as a number of interceptions had already slipped through his arms.
“I watch a lot of film, so I know on first downs, second downs, they love that deep out,” explained Kambamba of his pick-six. “I was looking for it all game and kinda had some missed opportunities in the first half. Luckily I was able to make a play on the ball and score some points.”
Second-year defensive lineman Austin Fordham-Miller injected some life into the fourth quarter when he nearly returned an interception for a touchdown.
With a 46–3 lead through two quarters of play, the Mustangs seized the opportunity to rest some of their starters on a hot, muggy day.
On offence, backup quarterback Kevin John and second-string running back Trey Humes were impressive. Both players ripped off sizable chunks of yardage on the ground and combined for two touchdowns.
After the game, Marshall noted the importance of getting reserve players into the game once the score was out of reach.
“I think that you never know when you’re gonna need those guys in the game,” said Marshall. “You look back to our Carleton game, we had some young guys playing in their first game and made some mistakes. So, better to make mistakes in a game we’re gonna win than a game when we’re gonna need them to make plays.”
Somewhat lost in the juggernaut offensive performance was third-year kicker Marc Liegghio, who extended his perfect field goal conversion rate. Liegghio is now 14-for-14 on the season.
Following the game, the Mustangs learned that— with Laurier’s loss to Waterloo— they were the only undefeated football team in Ontario University Athletics. Instead of celebrating the small success, Marshall maintained his focus on the game ahead.
“Waterloo had a big win at Laurier,” explained Marshall. “They’re gonna be fired up. We need to go into their barn and knock ‘em off.”
The Western Mustangs play the Waterloo Warriors next Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. on Warrior Field in Waterloo.