It's been the same story for the Western Mustangs football team all season. Another week, another big win.
This Friday it was Carleton University who faced the wrath of a Mustangs team on the verge of greatness. The final score was 51–14 but it could have been an even bigger blowout.
The Ravens aren't a bad team, they could easily be 4–2 on the season if a couple bounces went their way. But as team after team has found out this season, when it's the Mustangs that are on the other side of the field, hope is at a minimum. The Mustangs are undefeated this season, having won all seven of their games played.
The bread and butter of this Mustangs team is its defence. It's impenetrable and fierce, hard-nosed and nasty. It puts its foot on your throat when you're down and doesn't let you up.
The Mustangs gave up 345 yards of total offence against Carleton on Friday night, with much of that yardage coming in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. Ravens running back Nathan Carter, who entered the game against Western as the Ontario University Athletics leader in rushing yards, was held to only 28 yards.
It's that run defence that has led the Mustangs to a perfect record after seven games. And it's that run defense that could win this program its first national championship since 1994.
“We take a lot of pride [in our run defense]," said Mustangs linebacker Jean-Gabriel Poulin after the win over Carleton. "Last week Laurier ran the ball a little bit and had some big runs against us. This week there was a lot of emphasis on making sure they couldn’t do that anymore. That was a big chip on our shoulder for the whole time to make sure they couldn’t run the ball and make them pass."
While the defence has been dominant throughout the season, the offence had consistency issues during the start the season. Those issues are gone now. The only question mark surrounding this program and it's road to the 31st Yates Cup in school history was the ability of the offence to outgun opponents.
Now they're doing it, with a quarterback who can make plays with his arm and his legs, and a surplus of talented running backs. That offensive depth was evident on Friday.
Mustangs quarterback Chris Merchant threw for 300 passing yards and two touchdowns. Mustangs running back Alex Taylor ran for 139 yards, with one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown and Cedric Joseph rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
If the Mustangs offence clicks like it did on Friday night, nobody in Ontario can compete with them. And with lofty goals of glory on a national stage, teams across the country will be taking notice of the talent on the Mustangs depth chart.
"I think the offence played great today," said Joseph after the win over Carleton. "The offensive line had another great day, we did a good job establishing the run game, and I think it opened up the pass game pretty well to let Merchant and the receivers do their thing through the air."
The Mustangs have one more regular season before the playoffs begin. Barring a miracle, Western should clean up the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the Homecoming game at TD Stadium on Oct. 21.
Then the real work begins. The Laurier Golden Hawks, McMaster Marauders and Guelph Gryphons are the only other serious Yates Cup contenders. Save for a thrilling overtime win over Guelph early in the season, the Mustangs have made quick work of the rest of the competition.
Before the game with Carleton, Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall was weary of the potential for an upset.
"I was really worried going into this game,” Marshall said. “I looked at film and Laurier couldn’t run the ball on them. They were pretty good on defence, and they were getting better and better on offence."
But from the opening kickoff to the final whistle, the outcome was never in doubt. The Mustangs are on a singular mission for a Yates Cup. The rest of the OUA is just going along for the ride.