Drought continues at Alumni Stadium

Last-second loss to McMaster means no home playoff date for Gryphs


GREG LAYSON, GUELPH MERCURY





Guelph Gryphons quarterback Justin Dunk (12) is hauled
down at the ankles by Jason Arakgi of the McMaster
Marauders Saturday, during their OUA football game
at Alumni Stadium in Guelph. Guelph lost and travels
to Hamilton to play Mac in an OUA quarter-final game
this weekend. - GREG LAYSON


GUELPH

Local football fans will have to wait at least another year before they see an OUA post-season game played at Alumni Stadium.

The Guelph Gryphons added another annum to the 21-year drought Saturday by dramatically losing their final regular season game to the McMaster Marauders, 37-36.

Tied at 36 with 6.9 seconds remaining in the game, McMaster quarterback and reserve punter Adam Archibald, booted the ball through the Guelph end zone and scored the game-winning point from the 46-yard line with zeros on the clock.

"It seems a little whacky when you think about being able to score a point like that," Archibald said.

The Gryphons seemed to forget a rouge was a possible play as they prepared to defend what they thought would be the second-to-last play of the game. There wasn't a Gryphon protecting the end zone.

"It caught us off guard for sure," Guelph head coach Kyle Walters said. "We were protecting the short, 10-yard gain. That was the bigger concern; the short 10-yard flats. A couple of our deep guys weren't back there and it had a nice roll to it."

"Personally, I thought they'd throw a short ball and set up the field goal. But once I saw Archibald pull up for a punt I knew exactly what was happening," said Guelph halfback Peter de Guow, who tried to chase down the ball. "I tried to get there but it had a fabulous roll."

As a result, Guelph's last home playoff game remains a semifinal win against the Laurier Golden Hawks in 1986.

Had Guelph won, it would be hosting McMaster in a quarter-final game this Saturday at 1 p.m. Instead, Guelph plays Mac at Ivor Wynne Stadium at 1 p.m.

"It really hurts, but we didn't deserve it. I don't think we played well enough to be in that close of a game," Walters said.

Guelph's doughnut defence -- with absolutely nothing of substance in the middle -- allowed Archibald to throw for the OUA's fourth-best passing game in history, completing 27 of 41 passes for 542 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. His yardage was also tops in school history.

Mac receiver Mike Bradwell had 12 catches for 256 yards and two touchdowns, including a 108-yard score, the longest pass play in Mac history.

"We knew they could throw the ball deep and we knew they had good receivers but you just don't appreciate it until you see it firsthand," said Walters, whose team allowed three different Marauders catch passes of 40 yards or longer. "The reoccurring theme was that the pass defence let us down."

Guelph leaped out to a 10-0 lead but trailed 22-12 by halftime. In the second half, the Gryphons scored on their first three possession. They also tied the game at 22, 29 and 36, on a Rob Maver field goal, Nick Fitzgibbon touchdown and 70-yard fumble return by de Guow, respectively.

"I'm happy with the way we responded," Walters said.

Guelph quarterback Justin Dunk completed 18 or 32 passes for 201 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, all in Mac territory.

"I have to pick up the offence. When we need a play, I have to hit that receiver and not throw a pick," Dunk said. "It's on me. If I don't throw those picks, we win this game."

Guelph tailback Nick Fitzgibbon rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He also had six catches for 65 yards and a major. His two touchdowns gave him 13 on the season; a new single-season record at Guelph.

"I'd be thinking about it a lot more if we'd won," Fitzgibbon said of the record. "Right now, I'm looking forward to going to Hamilton and smashing them again.

"I know everyone I talked to was so excited about having a home playoff game. If we could have brought that home it would have been the biggest thing around here."

RECORD BREAKERS

GUELPH

Nick Fitzgibbon, running back:

His two touchdowns gave him 13 in the season, a new Guelph record. He a passed a trio of players who had previously scored 11 in a season.

Rob Maver, place kicker:

His two field goals gave him 15 on the season, also a school record. Carl Ljungbergs kicked 13 in 1987.

MCMASTER

Adam Archibald, quarterback:

His 542 passing yards is a new single-game school record and fourth-highest total in OUA history.

Mike Bradwell, receiver:

His two touchdown catches gave him nine on the season, a new Mac best.

Archibald and Bradwell:

The two hooked up for the longest pass play in Mac history; a 108-yard touchdown pass.
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