Western Mustangs run away from Guelph in season opener

The Western Mustangs and the Guelph Gryphons were like two high-octane engines trying to get going after spending too long in a sealed garage on Saturday.

At first, both could barely turn over.

Fortunately for Western, their engine had the name Mustang on it and, by the second half, it was humming.

Western scored 24 second-half points on their way to a 34-11 victory as they opened their 2022 OUA schedule at the site of this year’s Vanier Cup: the newly named Semotiuk-Haylor Memorial Field at Western Alumni Stadium. The name was created to honour legendary Mustang head coaches Darwin Semotiuk and Larry Haylor, who both passed away in January of 2021.

Read more: 2022 Western Mustang football season preview

Story continues below advertisement

Both would have been feeling that coach’s angst early in the game on Saturday as they watched the punt teams get saddled with a heavy load. Western and Guelph combined for 11 punts in the first half.

Mustang head coach Greg Marshall and his staff kept Western focused and, eventually, what looked like the kind of early errors in an exhibition game ironed themselves out.

The Mustangs put together an eight-play drive in the second half that saw second-year quarterback Evan Hillock find a groove and also saw the running game begin to get in gear.

Hillock found Keon Edwards for 17-yards and Savaughn Magnaye-Jones for 16-yards on successive plays and then Edouard Wanadi took the ball 30-yards on the next play after that.

Edwards finished with a one-yard plunge into the end zone to give Western their first points of the season and their first lead of the game.

Read more: London, Ont. to host 2022 Vanier Cup at Western Alumni Stadium

Before the end of the first half, Mustang kicker Brian Garrity (who also handled punting duties because of an injury to Cam Creechan) knocked a 24-yard field goal through the uprights to extend the Western lead.

A late penalty shrank a Gryphon field goal try and Eric Stranz hit from 49-yards to leave the Mustangs leading 10-6.

Story continues below advertisement

Western added another Garrity field goal and a catch and run for a touchdown from Wanadi to push their lead to 20-7 in the third quarter. Daniel Valente intercepted his second pass of the game to keep momentum squarely in Western’s favour.

Hillock connected with Magnaye-Jones on a touchdown in the fourth and Edwards ran in his second major of the day to complete the scoring.

Hillock was 13-for-22 for 155 yards and two TDs. He was sacked three times.

Read more: Huge week for Western Mustangs and London Jr. Mustangs

The Mustangs’ offensive line started to overpower Guelph in the second half and allowed Edwards and Wanadi to both go over 100-yards rushing on the day. Edwards had 188 yards. Wanadi had 105.

Wanadi led Western in receiving with 55 yards.

Along with Valente’s two picks, Paul Panabaker also recorded an interception for the Mustang defence.

Western will visit Laurier at 7:00 p.m. on September 3. The Golden Hawks had a bye in Week One.

Sponsored content