The Warriors ended up on the wrong end of a high scoring and entertaining home opener played in front of 3867 fans, losing 41-35 to the Guelph Gryphons.
The Warriors got off to a dream start putting together an eight play drive culminating in a 37 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nolan Kaban to James Basalyga. Guelph got back into the game late in the first quarter with an 84 yard touchdown play. Guelph quarterback Jake Helfrich made a short pass to Vyshonne Janusas who broke several tackles and ran down the sideline to score and tie the game.
The second quarter saw two unanswered touchdowns, with Helfrich taking the ball in himself and then finding Janusas for a short seven yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-7. The Warriors were able to respond with a Nicklas Sua 25 yard run followed by a Cole Crossett field goal to make the half time score 21-17.
The Gryphons came out strong into the third quarter with Tomas Berrio scoring on a two yard run and Helfrich finding Jakob Tomas for a nine yard pass. The game looked like it was running away from the Warriors until the last minute when Kaban found Justin Succar for a seven yard pass, capping a 92 yards, nine play drive. The Warriors went for a two point conversion but were unable to convert.
The Gryphons got into some penalty trouble in the fourth quarter, helping the Warriors offense gain momentum as they looked to tie the game. A Guelph safety early in the quarter and a resolute defensive performance gave the offense the chance to level the game.
With an energized crowd and encouragement by players on the sideline, the Warriors were able to score a touchdown as Kaban once again found Basalyga, and Crossett made an outstanding 49 yard field goal to tie the game with under four minutes remaining.
Unfortunately several penalties in a row hampered the Warriors offense and eventually pinned them back in their own end, giving Guelph a strong starting position as they looked to win the game. With 53 seconds left in the game, Isaiah Smith was able to make a nine yard run to put Guelph up 41-35.
Warriors player Jack Andrews blocked the extra point attempt but was unable to muster anything more with the few seconds left in the game.
Warriors head coach Chris Bertoia was disappointed by the result but also found positives in the performance. “Our effort was outstanding. The players showed resolve and resilience in the second quarter coming back down to 21-7. Then showed resilience again coming back to make it 35-35. I don’t care if there’s a fine out there for me, but the refereeing at the end of the game was certainly… I’m pretty sure that those were some god awful calls,” Bertoia said.
Bertoia also appreciated the support and energy that the crowd brought, “It felt great. Our student athletes work so hard whether it is in football and all sports and to have their support of the student body out here. It’s outstanding, and I certainly encourage them all to keep coming. I hope they enjoyed the game. It’s a good brand of football and, and yeah, hopefully they keep coming out.”