Football Hawks steam-roll York

After the 0-2 start that few predicted, everything has gone according to plan for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team in their past two games.

Sept. 11 saw the Hawks hand a 37-6 thrashing to the winless University of Toronto Varsity Blues, while this past Saturday the purple and gold crushed the York Lions —another perennial last-place finisher — 68-14.

“Today, our football team showed up,” said manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries after the York game. “I don’t care who we play. We’ve just gotten better. [York] played Guelph really tough and they’ve got some really good athletes and we came out and competed; I’m really proud of our kids.”

Saturday’s game was a blow-out in every sense of the word. The Hawks out-gained the Lions 436-138, forced five turnovers and took a 54-7 lead into the locker room at half-time.

Laurier quarterback Evan Pawliuk, who was starting in place of an injured Shane Kelly, led the team down the field and made it 7-0 before the game was two minutes old, hitting Mark Surya with a 42-yard touchdown strike. Pawliuk would add another passing major, racking up 149 yards on nine completions before giving way to back-up Dan Daigle at half-time.

From there, the running game would take over as second-year Anton Bennett would record a pair of touchdowns, while Shamawd Chambers, Josh Pirie and Isaac Dell would each add one.

Fourth-year linebacker Mitchell Bosch would lead a defensive effort which saw the Hawks only surrender nine first-downs all game, with York not crossing mid-field until late in the second quarter. Bosch also added a blocked punt which went for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Led by runningback Rashad La Touche – who ran for 75 yards on 12 attempts – Laurier’s back-ups took over in the second half, adding 14 points.

“It felt really good to get out there,” said La Touche. “I feel like I was able to really get my legs under me and show the coaches that I can run the ball and help this team win.”

With what will likely be the easiest portion of their schedule now behind them, the Hawks gear up for a crucial game next week versus the 3-1 Guelph Gryphons at Laurier’s Homecoming. A win would pull the Hawks into a tie with the Gryphons and tighten up the provincial standings.

“It’s going to be a hell of a game,” said Jeffries of the match-up with the Gryphons. “[Homecoming] is absolutely my favourite week of the year, this place will be rocking and we’re going to be ready.”

The Gryphons coasted through the same Toronto, York, two-game set as the Hawks earlier this year but then knocked off the defending Vanier Cup champion Queen’s Gaels and held the Western Mustangs to 15 points, looking solid defensively in the process.

The Hawks should get a boost this Saturday from the return of Kelly. The American pivot dislocated his shoulder in practice prior to the York game but is confident he will be back to play Guelph.

“It’s looking like next week I should be back in action,” said Kelly. “With the week off, I was able to take some time to rehab it and get my strength back and I’m really looking forward to playing against a really good Guelph team.”