Homecoming: Foul weather, field goals and F-bombs

Monday, September 28, 2009

  • Guelph's loss to Western at Saturday's Homecoming game marks the second time this season the
Gryphons have been defeated by a l

    Guelph's loss to Western at Saturday's Homecoming game marks the second time this season the Gryphons have been defeated by a l

Written by Greg Beneteau

The Guelph Gryphons football squad were downed by a late-game field goal at the Homecoming game against rivals the Western Mustangs.

But fallout from the loss lingered after the Gryphs’ star quarterback was suspended for swearing during a live television broadcast.

The Gryphons (2-2) were ranked 10th in CIS rankings going into Saturday’s match against the Mustangs (4-0), the No. 2 team in the country.

The two squads traded spots throughout the game. By the end of the first quarter Guelph was up 16-10. Western scored two touchdowns in a little over two minutes during the second quarter, leaving Guelph trailing by a 24-19 margin until a last-minute field goal by Gryphon kicker Rob Maver closed up the gap to 24-22.

Maver recently became the the all-time leading scorer in Gryphon football history, with 258 career points for the Gryphons, which includes 52 field goals.

He played a key role in the Homecoming match, setting up two field goals, four conversions and a single.

A touchdown by Western early in the third quarter increased their lead to 31-22. The Gryphons responded with two touchdowns – an 18-yard pass by Guelph quarterback Dunk to David Harrison and a 22-yard rush by Dunk with seconds left in the quarter – again putting Guelph in the lead 36-31.

In all, Dunk ran in three touchdowns for the Gryphons, twice when he couldn’t find a receiver, but had an open path to the endzone.

In the fourth quarter, the Mustangs struck first with an early run in by QB Michael Faulds, giving his team a 38-36 lead. The Gryphons tried valiantly to seal the deal as running back Nick Fitzgibbon took a short dump-pass from Dunk and charged 63 yards into Mustangs territory, dragging at least three defenders on the final five yards. Unable to hit pay dirt, Guelph had to settle for a 10-yard field goal by Maver, giving the Gryhpons a razor-thin 39-38 margin.

With under a minute left, the Mustangs were able to capitalize on Faulds’ driving offense in Guelph territory. This set up Western kick Darryl Wheeler’s 16-yard field goal with less than a second left on the clock, giving Western a 41-39 victory.

Saturday’s loss marks the second time the Gryphons have been defeated by a last-minute field goal this season, a fact not lost on head coach Kyle Walters.

“This one’s a little worse,” Walters told the Guelph Mercury. “The end result’s the same, but with Homecoming and that crowd, it’s more like you let everybody down.”

An estimated 8,750 enthusiastic fans braved foul weather, including a couple of mid-game downpours, to attend this year’s game.

But it was foul language that hung over the Gryphons after the match, as it was announced Dunk would sit out the Saturday’s home game against the Waterloo Warriors.

After his 22-yard run into the endzone in the third quarter, Dunk tracked down a television camera on the sidelines and shouted, “F--- Western!” into the lens.

The camera, operated by sports channel The Score, broadcast Dunk’s comments nationwide as part of its University Rush football coverage.

The University of Guelph released a statement Monday, saying the Department of Athletics handed Dunk a one-game suspension for his behaviour.

“I have spoken about this with Justin,” said Tom Kendall, director of athletics. “He is one of the top quarterbacks in the country, but we both agree that his actions Saturday do not reflect the high standards required of all Gryphon athletes.”

Dunk apologized for his remarks, calling the “offensive and inappropriate.”

“Like all of life’s experiences, I will learn from this,” he said.

Despite the loss, Guelph remains the highest-scoring team in OUA football with 207 points in four games, 44 more than Western. The Gryphs have also allowed 126 points, fewer than only the winless Toronto Blues and York Lions.

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