Gaels obliterate Hawks

KINGSTON, Ont. – Queen’s University’s homecoming festivities may have been cancelled indefinitely due to foul behaviour, but the party didn’t stop this year.

The Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks (1-2) found themselves to be no more than lamb to slaughter on Saturday afternoon as the previously winless Queen’s Gaels (1-2) broke out in a big way with a 58-35 win in front of over 7,000 rowdy students.

The “TSN Turning Point” came just 2:30 into the first quarter. Craig Rushon ran the Gaels’ first touchdown into the Hawks’ end zone after a fabulous pass by quarterback Billy McPhee connected with a Gaels’ receiver for over 50 yards on their first drive.

Wide receiver Giovanni Aprile turned the crowd electric with his four touchdowns – three receiving, and one off a Laurier kick-return.

The Hawks had no answer for the Gaels’ long ball. The spotty defensive coverage allowed McPhee to find receivers all day.

McPhee ended the day, completing 16 of 32 passes for 378 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns.

While the game belonged to Aprile and McPhee, it was perhaps the fumble involving Kelvin Muamba in the second quarter. Muamba made a terrific catch on the Gaels’ 10-yard line, putting the Hawks in great shape for their first touchdown of the game, but was brought down and initially believed to have fumbled the ball.

Upon further review, the fumble call was erased as the ball had made contact with the ground, and Laurier quarterback Shane Kelly and his squad got another crack at it.

But they couldn’t capitalize.

Kelly threw the ball into the end zone, and it was picked off by cornerback TJ Chase-Dunawa, just one of four interception returns by the Gaels, totalling 49 yards.

Perhaps the lone bright spot for Laurier was their own interception. Cornerback Shane Herbert picked off a McPhee feed and ran 107 yards, Laurier’s third-largest interception touchdown-return in team history.

But it was too little, too late.

The Hawks would score 14 points in the fourth, but serving more purpose than an offensive practice tune-up for the biggest showdown of the season versus Western next weekend, the late-game push served no meaningful end.

The game against the top-ranked Ontario University Athletics’ team, the Western Mustangs is looming, and the Hawks have dropped two of three easily winnable games.

They will have to get their game back on track defensively in the span of a week to have any hope of reaching a .500 record by season’s midpoint.

The defensive coverage has to be better against the Mustangs. If it’s not, the season could turn south in a hurry for one of the top-ranked OUA teams expecting to make noise this season.

Dillon Heap received for 105 yards and punt-returned for 53 and Mark Surya scored two touchdowns along with Anton Bennett notching one of his own off a three yard pass by Kelly.

The Hawks face the Mustangs next Saturday at 1p.m.