November 10, 2018 8:03 pm
Updated: November 11, 2018 9:20 am

Western Mustangs make it back-to-back Yates Cup championships with 63-14 win

Photo Credit: Matt Hiscox Photography
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The Western Mustangs left no doubt in anyoneโ€™s mind as to who the best football team in the OUA is in 2018.

In the 111th Yates Cup Championship, the Mustangs scored the first 39 points of the game on their way to a 63-14 win and a second consecutive Ontario title.

Western scored five rushing touchdowns as they continued to dominate their opponents on the ground. During the regular season, the Mustangs averaged 271.6 rushing yards per game. They had 286 against Guelph.

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Running back Cedric Joseph and quarterback Chris Merchant each ran for three TDs. When Joseph crossed the goal line in the third quarter to pick up his third touchdown, the ball was stripped away, but Merchant was there to recover what could have been a fumble.

Photo Credit: Matt Hiscox Photography

It was ruled that Joseph had already crossed the plane of the goal line, so the score went into his impressive statistics for the day. Joseph piled up 133 yards on 13 carries.

Merchant ended with 66 yards rushing and was a near-perfect 19-of-22 for 324 yards passing and a touchdown, before being replaced by Kevin John in the fourth quarter. The Mississauga native was two for three for 30 yards on the afternoon. He also rushed for 30 yards.

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The Mustang offensive line afforded both quarterbacks all kinds of time in the pocket and did an outstanding job of run blocking, allowing Joseph and Alex Taylor to regularly reach the second level of the defence untouched.

“This maybe wasn’t the end-goal for the season, but it was the end-goal for the week,” said Mustang head coach Greg Marshall. “We’ve been saying that we wanted to take things one week at a time, so we prepared as if this was the last week of the season.”

Western receiver Harry McMaster didnโ€™t get into the end zone, but still had a game high 113 yards receiving, including one catch for 39 yards.

The Mustang defence held Gryphons quarterback Theo Landers to just 69 yards passing. Landers was picked off once by Mackenzie Ferguson.

READ MORE: Western Mustangs advance to 4th straight Yates Cup

Western kicker Marc Liegghio made 19 of 22 field goals that he attempted during the regular season, but did not attempt a single field goal in the Yates Cup until late in the fourth quarter. He made it from nine yards out to score the final points of the afternoon. Liegghio also averaged 54.3 yards per kickoff and while Liegghio only punted twice, he averaged 42.5 yards per punt.

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Western has now gone two calendar years without losing a football game. Their last loss came in the 2016 Yates Cup against the Laurier Golden Hawks. The Mustangs have not lost a regular season game since September 4, 2016.

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The Mustangs will now host the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the Mitchell Bowl at 4 oโ€™clock on November 17 at TD Stadium. The U of S upset the previously unbeaten Calgary Dinos on Saturday as they scored 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to seal a 43-18 win.

St. FX will play the Laval Rouge et Or in the Uteck Bowl on November 17 at 12:30 p.m. in the other National semi-final.

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