A strong defence can make life tough on a strong offence. But it doesn’t have much effect on an excellent kicker.
Marc Liegghio of the Western Mustangs connected on five of six field goals as Western defeated the Waterloo Warriors 30-24 in a Yates Cup semi-final played on Saturday afternoon at TD Stadium in London.
The OUA all-time scoring leader accounted for the first four scores by the Mustangs and then added a fifth field goal and a rouge in the fourth quarter to round out his day.
A fourth-quarter interception return by Kojo Odoom that went for 65 yards and a touchdown gave Western enough of a cushion to hold on for the win in their first playoff game of 2019.
As much attention as Waterloo quarterback Tre Ford gets for his ability to run the football, it was Western’s Chris Merchant whose ability to read and react off the pass rush that kept drives alive for the Mustangs. Merchant ran for 113 yards on nine carries. He also threw for 211 yards.
Ford was held to 79 yards rushing. Most importantly for Western Ford was kept to an average of 5.1 yards per rush. He averaged over nine yards on every carry during the regular season.
Trey Humes ran for 121 yards on the day.
The Mustang return teams did a good job setting Western up with solid field position throughout most of the afternoon.
As the game began the Waterloo defence kept the Mustangs out of the end zone and two touchdown passes from Ford had Western down 14-12 early in the third quarter.
The Mustangs kept plugging and finally got across the goal line on a two-yard run by running back Trey Humes that put Western ahead to stay with just under six minutes remaining in the third.
Liegghio connected on his fifth field goal to put Western ahead 22-17 as the final quarter began. Liegghio’s lone miss of the day still resulted in a rouge and a single point.
Waterloo managed a last touchdown but Merchant and Humes picked up back-to-back first downs and Western went into the victory formation to kneel out the clock and move on.
Next up for the Mustangs will be the Yates Cup final against the McMaster Marauders on November 9 at TD Stadium
McMaster knocked off Guelph 19-9 in the other Yates Cup semi.