York Lions fall in season opener to Western Mustangs

The York University Lions football team was defeated by a score of 66-3 by the Western University Mustangs in the season opener for both teams at Alumni Field on Sunday afternoon.

The Lions held the Mustangs to a field goal on their first drive and a punt on their second, but a 54-yard touchdown pass from Chris Merchant to Brett Ellerman late in the quarter gave Western a 9-0 lead. An interception returned for a touchdown by Bleska Kabamba with 1:37 remaining in the quarter put Western up 16-0.

Western blocked two punt attempts by rookie kicker Dante Mastrogiuseppe in the second quarter to give its offence short fields, and Cole Majoros also returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in the frame.

Mastrogiuseppe scored the lone points of the game for the Lions with 20 seconds remaining in the second quarter on a 12-yard field goal, and the score was 34-3 at the half.

Warren Craney

“We played one of the best teams in the country and they showed why today,” said Lions head coach Warren Craney. “I’m not happy with how we played on special teams, I won’t say it cost us the game but it was a major contributor in the score. I thought our offence played extremely well, we controlled the clock which is what we wanted them to do, and they got first downs and dug us out of holes. Defensively, we battled in the first half. The second half was a letdown but it’s nothing we can’t fix.”

The Mustangs continued to roll in the third quarter, putting up 30 points, and added two points on a team-conceded safety in the fourth quarter.

York quarterback Brett Hunchak finished 15-of-31 for 176 yards and two interceptions. Merchant was 11-of-23 for 221 yards, with two touchdowns and one pick. Stevenson Bone came in late in the game and went 4-4 for 151 yards and a score.

The Mustangs ran the ball 43 times in the game and picked up a total of 258 yards on the ground. Alex Taylor led the way with 125 yards on 15 carries, while Cedric Joseph scored a pair of touchdowns.

Defensive back Ian Lawrence recorded a game-high 9.5 tackles, while Desi Dixon and Jacob Janke had six each.

The Lions will hit the road next weekend for their first away game of the season, heading to Waterloo, Ont., to face the University of Waterloo Warriors in a game that begins at 1pm on Labour Day Monday.