Varsity Jr. Mustangs Brave Elements for Tough Playoff Win
London Jr. Mustangs FootballGreg Bowman
The London Jr. Mustangs Varsity team braved the elements to beat the Hamilton Jr. Tiger Cats in the opening round of the OPFL playoffs with a 22-2 final.
After the two teams battled for nearly two full quarters, Mother Nature unleashed a ferocious thunderstorm over the Forest City that delayed the game. Determined to avoid a rescheduling, the game finally resumed at about 10pm local time, with the score at 14-2 for London.
Prior to the delay, the Jr. Mustangs were playing some great football. They established a strong ground game, which was accented by Dante Nichols’ lights-out performance. On their first touchdown drive it started with Nichols picking his way through punt coverage to give the Jr. Mustangs the ball inside Hamilton territory. He proceeded to cap off the drive with a rushing touchdown.
Later in the half, Nichols broke through for an 80-yard touchdown run, slicing his way through the Jr. Tiger-Cats’ defence to the house. The run broke the game open for the Mustangs, who were riding high before the weather delay.
“The linemen just did their job. I just followed them, and did what I can, and it led to a touchdown,” Nichols said after the marathon game. At the end of his run, as a defender was closing in on his heels, Nichols dove into the endzone to ensure a major.
The blustering thunderstorm then began to wreak havoc on TD Stadium, with sideline equipment blowing down the TD Stadium track, signalling everyone to take cover as a threatening-looking cloud loomed overhead.
During the long delay, the Jr. Mustangs weren’t going to let the weather distract them: “we’re just trying to keep the same mindset that we came in with when we started,” said Nichols. “We were up [14-2] so we just wanted to keep that same pace and we got a win.”
Once the game got underway again, it was a rough and tumble affair, with the teams exchanging thunderous hits each way. The passing game seemingly disappeared due to the conditions, but the Jr. Mustangs defence held them in it, forcing one a safety out of Hamilton, which joined a pair of Brian Garrity field goals to round out the score.
Moving into the next playoff matchup, the Jr. Mustangs will take on the Essex Ravens in the West Division Finals. London beat Essex in the season-opener 20-14 in what was an extremely close affair. The game will be played at Alumni Stadium in Windsor this weekend.