“Disappointing” loss for Laurier men’s football season

The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s football team had their season come to an end early Friday afternoon following a 22-10 defeat against the Carleton Ravens. 

In what was Laurier’s annual “School Day” game, the Golden Hawks had great support with over 4,200 people cheering them on, many of which were elementary school kids. 

Despite both the Ravens and Golden Hawks starting 1-3 to begin their season, the two met on Friday both controlling their playoff destiny. The winner was guaranteed a spot in the 2019 Yates Cup Playoffs, while the loser, they were most likely playing in their last game of the season. 

For Laurier, three straight wins after their Sept. 21st bye had them coming into last Friday with an enormous amount of momentum. 

Part of the win streak included two blowout wins against Queens and Windsor as well as a thrilling overtime victory last week against Waterloo.

 The Ravens also came into the matchup with momentum as they were coming off of a 35-30 upset win last week against the 6-2 McMaster Marauders. 

For most of the first half, it was a defensive battle, Laurier’s top-ranked rushing offense and star player Levondre Gordon could not get anything going, as the Ravens defense caused havoc. 

After a defensive safety in the first quarter, a stalled drive in the second. resulted in a 12-yard field goal and the Ravens held a 5-0 lead. 

However, as Laurier was moving down the field near the end of the first half, quarterback Connor Carusello’s pass was intercepted by Danny McWhirter and taking back 52 yards for a defensive touchdown. One of three interceptions on the day for eventual OUA football defensive player of the week, Danny McWhirter. 

Laurier’s offense who had scored over 50 points in all three of the games during their win streak, and averaged over 30 points per game this season, still could not advance the ball on the Ravens tough third-ranked defense. The Hawks were facing an uphill battle entering the fourth and final quarter down 15-0. 

“It’s disappointing we didn’t do more on offense, we had a few too many penalties and some uncharacteristic mistakes, but their defense made it really tough on us,” men’s head football coach Michael Faulds said after the game. 

To the Hawks’ advantage, their defense played stellar throughout the game, relying on the crowd, and keeping hope alive for the Hawks.

 “I feel bad for the defense, they played outstanding and well enough for the team to win,” Faulds said while adding that their defense shut down the opposing Ravens’ offense. 

After a field goal and a quick change of possession at the beginning of the fourth, Laurier’s offense finally found a big play, when Carusello hit receiver Brentyn Hall over the middle of the field on a slant and he took it 71 yards to the end zone, cutting the Ravens lead to five. 

Following another defensive stop, the Hawks had one final chance and the ball with three minutes left. “Let’s go guys, stay committed, 17-15 final score,” Coach Faulds emphatically said on the sideline down by five, before the offense took the field. However, for the Hawks, it wasn’t meant to be, as their season was put to an end following a final interception by Ravens defensive back Danny McWirther. 

A late touchdown by Carleton sealed the game and clinched their spot in the playoffs. 

Both the Ravens and Hawks will finish their season with a 4-4 record, part of a three-way tie with Waterloo for 5th place in the OUA.

For Laurier, they will miss the post-season as the tiebreaker in head to head point differential favoured Waterloo and Carleton and due to that the season and career for many of the Laurier guys have come to an end.  

Asked about the resilience of the team, Coach Faulds said, “It’s disappointing today as we had a chance to solidify a playoff spot and didn’t, but I’m super proud of our guys, it’s a tough group, they were put in a tough position after starting 1-3, our team was battle tough and they didn’t fold.”

For the Hawks, they will miss the playoffs for the second straight season and look towards a long offseason. The Ravens, meanwhile are looking ahead to their first-round playoff matchup this Saturday, October the 26th,  on the road against Guelph.

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