Durie finding home in end zone

JOSH WEBSTER -- SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 5:54 PM ET

Andre Durie's production is on a downward spiral.

One week after scoring six touchdowns in his previous game against the Waterloo Warriors, the York Lions' star running back only managed three majors against the Toronto Varsity Blues in a 45-41 come-from-behind victory at the annual Red and Blue Bowl last Saturday.

Durie downplayed any concerns about his sudden lack of scoring touch following the game.

"No not at all," laughed Durie. "I was glad we pulled out the win."

All kidding aside, Durie ripped through the Blues' defence when it mattered most. His first touch of the game resulted in a 56-yard touchdown run right up the middle, giving the Lions an early lead.

But Toronto, on a 20-game losing streak, showed a lot more tenacity that one might have expected, jumping to a 34-10 advantage in the third quarter. But York avoided a potential upset and rallied for the victory, including three key plays by Durie: a 31-yard touchdown run, another major late in the game that put the score out of reach for the Blues, preceded by a huge 66-yard run that took York out of the shadow of its goal post. Durie rushed for 200 yards in total.

Durie has been the most productive running back this side of Jesse Lumsden in the CIS this season, with 644 yards to date. And the second year Mississauga, ON native is doing it on a bum wheel, as evident on his second touchdown run against Toronto. Durie hobbled his way to the bench after the score, and it was visible to all in attendance at Varsity Stadium that he is not 100 per cent.

"He's hurt," said Lions head coach Tom Gretes. "You walk that fine line with him. It's a long season; you need to keep him healthy and so on. He wanted to go in and we were ready not to put him back in. But he said 'coach give me the ball' and that's what we did and he made the plays when he had to."

"Sometimes it feels sore," admitted Durie. "Sometimes you have good days, sometimes you have bad. But it's what you have to deal with when you are playing a physical game."

Being so productive while playing hurt will earn Durie bonus points with pro scouts who no doubt will be keen to see if he can be just as effective in the CFL. No one will dare question his heart.

But Gretes may be forced to make a tough decision in the upcoming weeks to rest Durie. With four games remaining in the regular season, York will need Durie to be his best with the potential of post-season play.

Then again, without Durie, York's playoff aspirations may come to a screeching halt. It is not an easy decision to make for any head coach.

"We'll see," admitted Gretes. "We'll see how it is, how it responds this week to therapy and that. But you know the kid wants to play. There is nothing structurally wrong with it; it tightens up and that and that's an on going injury for him, so we just got to see where it is at."

The Lions currently sit at 2-2, barely in a playoff position in the ten-team OUA. The top six teams play for the Yates Cup.

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The person that coined the phase records are made to be broken had Andre Durie in mind.

His six touchdowns against Waterloo tied a CIS single-game record, and easily gave him offensive player of the week honours. Jim Reid set the original mark with Laurier back in 1977.

And last season as a rookie Durie set an OUA single-game record with 349 rushing yards against Ottawa. He finished the season with 845 rushing yards, good for fourth in the CIS.

A string of nine TDs in two games for one individual doesn't come around too often, if at all. But Durie had no problem downplaying the accomplishment.

"I'm not really worried about that stuff," claimed Durie. "I'm doing what I got to do to help get our team those wins."

Durie has a tough road ahead of him if he is to be the CIS rushing leader at season's end. McMaster's Lumsden currently leads university football with 916 yards, albeit with 18 more attempts than Durie.

Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson in the NBA was an epic battle. The home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa was historical. Will a Lumsden-Durie matchup live up to that type of hype when Mac visits York on October 9?

Durie doesn't get caught up in chasing Lumsden.

"Not at all," admitted Durie. "You seem them (statistics) but there's no comparison. He's a great running back and they have a great system over there. I just look forward to playing them."

While Lumsden may be the straw that stirs the drink for the four-time defending Yates Cup champions, Gretes knows he has a bread and butter guy of his own.

"He's our best player," stated Gretes. "We go when he goes. We've got a bunch of injuries right now, and we have a lot a guys on defence that aren't around that are hurt, and you need that one guy to step up and play, and he does and everybody follows."


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