Football Hawks fall in Ottawa
OTTAWA, Ont. — “Every game’s a playoff game now.”
That was how Laurier quarterback Evan Pawliuk summed up the situation the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks football team now faces following Saturday’s loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees. The 44-21 loss to the number six nationally ranked Gee-Gees brought the Hawks record down to 3-3, ending their three-game winning streak and putting their playoff positioning in jeopardy.
“We beat ourselves,” said manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries after Saturday’s game. “It’s disappointing because we really were getting better, we just didn’t play well today.”
An ineffective Hawks’ offence combined with three turnovers and 11 penalties spelled disaster for the purple and gold on Saturday. After holding the nation’s top-ranked quarterback Brad Sinopoli and the rest of the explosive Ottawa offence to just 14 points in the first half, things simply fell apart after halftime.
Shane Kelly replaced Pawliuk as quarterback in the second half after he passed for just 31 yards in the opening half. But after tying the game early in the third quarter, Kelly would go on to throw a pair of interceptions, unable to revive the dormant Laurier offence.
Two Sinopoli touchdown passes and a Hawks’ fumble that would be returned for a major later and the purple and gold found themselves on the wrong end of a lop-sided score board, with their record back down at .500.
“Defensively, I thought we played a hell of a game,” said Jeffries. “Sinopoli’s as good as there is, their receivers are outstanding and we hung in there. We just couldn’t generate any offence or get any sustained drives to keep [Sinopoli] off the field.”
The Hawks now face, as Pawliuk eluded to, a must-win game this Saturday when they host the Queen’s Gaels. Laurier’s current 3-3 record is good enough for a fourth-place tie with the Guelph Gryphons, however, they could see themselves fall to sixth by Friday afternoon.
On Friday, the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) is expected to finally bring an end to the situation surrounding Laurier defensive end Dave Montoya’s eligibility. Last week, a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) committee rejected Montoya’s appeal, forcing the Hawks to seek a second appeal with the SDRCC.
Should the independent arbitrators reject Montoya’s claim, the Hawks will be forced to forfeit their week three win over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. This would vault the Blues ahead of the Hawks, putting Laurier in a tie with the Gaels for the final playoff spot.
“Our backs are against the wall,” said Pawliuk of Saturday’s crucial game versus Queen’s. “We’ve just got to show the true character of this team and come out and play how we know we’re capable of.”
What their record will be isn’t the only question that will be facing the Hawks on Saturday, as there is still no defined starting quarterback between Kelly and Pawliuk. According to Jeffries, who will be under centre is still on a week-to-week basis and will be determined in practice this week.
“It’s the coaches’ decision and we’re both just going to keep on working together,” said Kelly. “Whoever’s out there, the other guy’s going to support but all that matters now is that we win these next two games.”