The York University Lions football team suffered a heartbreaking 32-31 loss to the visiting University of Waterloo Warriors in the season finale for both teams at York Stadium on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 25).
The Lions had a chance to tie with 14 seconds left after Connor Anderson (Newmarket, Ont.) scored his second touchdown of the game, but the point-after attempt was fumbled, leaving the Lions one point behind. They recovered the onside kick on Waterloo's 49-yard line, but Nick Naylor's (Abbotsford, B.C.) 56-yard field goal attempt came up short as time expired.
The Lions were in position to extend the game thanks to a furious second-half comeback after trailing 24-7 at the break.
They tied the game at 25-25 with 6:54 left in the fourth on a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jahmari Bennett (Mississauga, Ont.) and a stellar two-point conversion to Devyn Chenier (Thunder Bay, Ont.). But Waterloo scored a touchdown on a 26-yard rush by quarterback Jamie Cook (Kitchener, Ont.) to make the score 32-25, ultimately putting the game out of reach.
On the ensuing kick-off, the Lions used a reverse hand-off from Jonathan Howard (Burlington, Ont.) to Mitchell Fraser (Newmarket, Ont.) to run the ball from the end zone all the way back to the one-yard line at the other end of the field, but a penalty flag brought the ball back to midfield, denying the Lions of a glorious opportunity to tie the contest.
Waterloo opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 31-yard field goal by Caleb Girard (Waterford, Ont.), and carried a 5-0 lead after one following a York-conceded safety.
The Warriors stretched their lead to 12-0 on Cook's first touchdown pass of the day to Ryan Di Risio (Burlington, Ont.) before the Lions got on the board four minutes later. Bennett threw a beautiful ball down the far sideline that receiver Mahlique Marks (Toronto) ran in for a touchdown, the first of his career, to make the score 12-7.
Cook threw his second major score of the day less than three minutes later, a nine-yard completion to Christian Lewis (Kitchener, Ont.) that made it 19-7. They added another two points when Bennett was sacked in the end zone for a safety by Ivan Gritsiniak (Toronto), and rounded out the first-half scoring with a 42-yard field goal by Girard.
Anderson's first touchdown of the contest game at 5:03 of the third quarter on a two-yard run that cut the deficit to 24-14, the only points of the third quarter. Naylor opened the fourth with a 36-yard field goal, and Waterloo recorded a rouge to push the score to 25-17 before Bennett's scoring run.
Bennett finished 15-of-22 for 201 yards, with the one touchdown and two interceptions, both in the first half. He also ran the ball 11 times for 88 yards and the one score.
Howard had the best game of his young career, piling up 123 yards on 17 carries and another 44 yards on two kick returns.
On defence, Brett Colangelo (Oakville, Ont.) had a huge performance with a game-high 7.5 tackles, as well as an interception in the end zone and a pass break-up.
For Waterloo, Cook went 19-of-32 for 267 yards, with the two touchdowns and one pick, and he also added three carries for 48 yards, the most on the team. Lucas Merlin (Burlington, Ont.) was the team's top defensive player with seven tackles and one sack.
Both teams had already been eliminated from the playoffs prior to kick-off. The Warriors finish the season with a 1-7 record and the Lions at 0-8.
Source: York Lions