LONDON, Ont. – After taking their first lost of the season less than a week ago, the Western Mustangs bounced back with a 61–20 victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks to secure their fifth win of the season on Thursday night at TD Stadium.
"Our guys came out. We controlled the line of scrimmage, we pounded the ball at them, Stevenson [Bone] made good decisions and you know what, it was good," said Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall.
With Will Finch, the Mustangs starting quarterback, sidelined due to injury, it wasn't clear which Mustangs offence was going to show up to play come game time.
But backup Stevenson Bone was fluid in his delivery of 35 first-half points — a half that was capped off by a 48-yard run. The play set up his own 20-yard rushing touchdown that gave his team a commanding 32 point-lead.
The Mustangs kept their foot on the pedal as they proceeded to put up another 26 points in the second half.
Despite a few mistakes, Bone showed his ability to move the chains, and manage the game for the Mustangs. Bone completed 19 of his 25 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 86 yards on seven carries and a rushing touchdown.
Bone, who hadn't started in a game as quarterback since high school, was overwhelmed by the result.
"I'm speechless. I'm so emotional right here but it was a tremendous game and tremendous effort by our whole team," said Bone.
Brian Marshall, Western's senior slot back, stood out as Bone's favourite target. Bone connected with Marshall eight times for 157 yards and a touchdown.
Overall, Greg Marshall said he was impressed by the young quarterback's performance.
"He's been good. To be honest I was surprised he missed some of those long ones because in practice he's been really, really good — and they were close. He threw a nice ball to Brian over here, he put the ball in really good spots," Greg Marshall said.
Thursday night's performance could serve as a wake up call for the other teams in Ontario University Athletics. Even without their starting quarterback, the Mustangs offence fired on all cylinders.
The Mustangs run game was hardnosed as the team ripped off 431 total yards on 49 carries. Garret Sanvido led the unit with 165 yards on 17 carries just two weeks after suffering a knee injury in Waterloo.
"I was just running the ball really. I don't know how many carries I got but it's a lot more then I've been getting this year," Sanvido said. "The more we have guys to play off — throw Yannick [Harou] in, throw [Alex] Taylor, and Adam Sinclair in — the healthier I can be in the long run."
Considering the Mustangs offence struggled to execute at times in last week's loss the Marauders, their performance against Laurier was night and day. The offence produced 720 total yards.
But even as the Mustangs offence soaked up the Thursday night spotlight, the defence did not go unnoticed. Matched up against the league's top rusher, the Mustangs defensive front contained the Golden Hawks running back, Dillon Campbell just long enough for their offence to put up an insurmountable lead.
Laurier's first touchdown didn't come until the start of the fourth quarter — a touchdown that was set up by a screen pass to Campbell. He managed 111 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown. Campbell has put up at least 100 yards rushing in all six games this season, and now owns Laurier's single-season rushing record with 1,132 yards so far this year.
The CIS' leading rusher also added five receptions for 87 yards receiving courtesy of quarterback, James Fracas, who posted 21 completions, 285 yards and one touchdown of his own.
However, everything seemed to go in Western's favour. The Mustangs turned a run of the mill Laurier punt into six points after the partially blocked kick was caught and returned by Mustangs safety, Trevor Lass as time expired in the third quarter.
In addition to the return, the Mustangs special teams contributed another 21 points on five field goals and six extra points from kicker, Zack Medeiros.
With the win, the Mustangs improve to 5–1 on the season and get the next nine days off to rest and get healthy. With many key starters out of the lineup, Greg Marshall is looking forward to the time off.
"This week has been long. It was five days and it seemed like 50. I'm glad it's over and I'm glad we can re-group, rest up, get Jean Gab [Poulin], get Jesse McNair back — we're going to get some guys healthy next week," Marshall said.
The Mustangs travel to Guelph next Saturday to take on Gryphons. Game time is 1 p.m.
Source: Western Mustangs