Burlington, Ont. – Chris Merchant, Danny McWhirter, and Marc Liegghio have been named Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Football Players of the Week for the period ending October 20, 2019.
Offensive Player of the Week – Chris Merchant, Western Mustangs
It has been quite a season for Chris Merchant, and the Western Mustangs quarterback put a feather in the cap of his 2019 campaign with another productive performance against one of the conference’s best defensive units.
The ‘Stangs finished off their undefeated regular season on Saturday by beating the Ottawa Gee-Gees 32-23 in front of their home crowd and one of the main reasons they were able to find success was thanks to Merchant and his ability to move the ball. The Calgary, Alta. native connected on 20-of-32 passes for 341 yards, finding six different receivers on the day. And while he didn’t throw for any majors, he did find the endzone with his legs, tacking on 38 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Time and time again, Merchant did what needed to be done to get his Mustangs into scoring position against the stingy Ottawa defence and limited their ability to impact the game in ways they have done all season long.
With his 379-yard outing in Week 9, Merchant finishes with an impressive 2,378 yards passing and 438 yards rushing for the season to go along with 20 combined TDs.
Defensive Player of the Week – Danny McWhirter, Carleton Ravens
In their second straight must-win game to close out the season, the Carleton Ravens did what they had to do, as Danny McWhirter and the team defence stepped up in a big way to shut down Laurier and claim the final spot in the Yates Cup playoffs.
McWhirter was a one-man wrecking crew for the Ravens, with his eyes on lighting up seemingly any time a ball was thrown in his direction. The third-year defensive back made his initial impact with a pick-six late in the opening half. He got his hands on the Connor Carusello pass and took it back 52 yards to the house to give Carleton a 12-0 lead at the time. He wasn’t even close to being done there; however, as he would haul in his next interception just a few minutes later to halt Laurier in their tracks once again. He would cap off his three-interception day by snagging a deep Carusello pass early in the fourth quarter and keep momentum the way of the black birds.
McWhirter would finish the day with four pass break-ups, including the three interceptions, as well as one solo tackle, helping to limit Laurier to just 190 yards passing and 10 points on the day and punch Carleton’s ticket to the postseason.
Special Teams Player of the Week – Marc Liegghio, Western Mustangs
It was a record-setting day for Marc Liegghio, as he kicked his way into the history books at the school, conference, and national level with a six field-goal outing for the Western Mustangs.
The veteran kicker came into the week 5 field goals short of the U SPORTS record and tied with Lirim Hajrullahu for the total points record in school and OUA history. But that all changed in Western’s 32-23 win over Ottawa. Liegghio notched three field goals in the first half, with makes from 16, 32, and 21 yards, respectively, before adding another three (16, 18, 39) in the fourth quarter alone. With the teams separated by just nine points heading into the final frame, Liegghio’s points were certainly important to help secure the win, but they also etched his name into university football folklore.
Thanks to his six field goals and 20 points on the day, the fourth-year kicker now stands alone as the highest point scorer in OUA history, surpassing the 422 collected by previous leader Hajrullahu (2009-13), and tops all U SPORTS kickers with 92 career field goals made, overtaking both Johnny Mark (Calgary, 2011-15) and Gabe Ferraro (Guelph, 2014-18).