Warriors stumble at the playoffs

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by Syed Naqvi

Oct. 27, 2018 was a day full of ups and downs for the Warriors’ fans. On one hand, the Warriors’ Men’s  Rugby Team booked their place in the OUA semi-finals, but on the other hand Warriors’ Men’s Football Team lost to Guelph Gryphons in the quarter-final of the Yates Cup.

It was after a long wait of 15 years that the Warriors finally made it to the playoffs. However, the third seed, Guelph Gryphons, became the reason for the Warriors’ stumbling at the third-last hurdle on the road to glory.

The early part of the game was fraught with penalties against the Warriors. As a result, Gryphons got an early lead of 10-0 in the game, courtesy of a field goal and Theo Landers’ rushing score.

Warriors soon regrouped and their star quarterback, Tre Ford, combined with Tyler Ternowski for a 55-yard touchdown. With both teams vying for dominance, spectators were treated to some end-to-end action on the field. In this scramble for dominance Ford completed another 39-yard touchdown. The early deficit proved to be decisive, as the first half ended 31-21 in favour of the Gryphons.

Early on in the third period, Gryphons extended their lead to 37-21 with Kade Belak scoring the touchdown. Kurtis Gray of the Warriors forced J.P.  Cimankinda to fumble and Joshua Brown was on hand to recover on the Gryphons’ 18-yard line. The very next play Warriors cut the lead to 9 as Ford combined with Richmond Nketiah to make the scoreboard read 37-28.

After a host of turnovers from either side, the Gryphons once again increased the lead to 44-28. With the clock ticking and less than 5 minutes remaining, the Warriors showed everyone their undying spirit as Ford teamed up with Brandon Metz for another 17-yard touchdown making the scoreboard read 45-34. Before long the final whistle was blown and the game, coupled with the Warriors’ season, ended.

Gryphons came into the game with a solid strategy of defeating the Warriors using their strong ground game. With the Gryphons running back, Cimankinda, was the catalyst in the implementation of this tactic as he covered a total of 256 yards and scored three touchdowns. To put this into perspective, the whole team covered 284 rushing yards and Cimankinda was involved in 90 per cent of them. Gryphons quarterback, Landers, also brought his best self to the game as he, with his immaculate passes, completed 240 yards and contributed to two touchdowns.

However, in this cloud of despair Warriors still have a lot of silver linings in the form of Ford, Ternowksi and the fact they have rejuvenated their football program. Ford was a treat to watch in this game as he completed 23 of his 32 passes, in the process covering 295 yards and contributing to three touchdowns. He did not just dictate the tempo of the game but he also led from the front, completing 150 yards whilst rushing into the opposition area. Ternowski ended his season by further bettering his impeccable record of producing a touchdown catch in every game he played. Simultaneously, this refocus on the football program has enabled Waterloo to become an excellent destination for potential recruits and from this point onwards all the Warriors’ fans are only hoping for the best.