Golden Hawks back on track

What’s the best way to cure an 0-2 start? A date with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team learned that first-hand on Saturday night, as the purple and gold crushed the Blues 37-6 for their first win of the season. This comes after the Hawks opened the year with a pair of gut-wrenching, yet very different losses to the Western Mustangs and the McMaster Marauders.

“This is the team that we saw coming out of camp,” said manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries. “This is the team I expected us to be, and we’re just starting to build. We’re not nearly where we want to be now and we’re going to continue to get better.”

The Hawks dominated right from their opening drive when quarterback Shane Kelly -who was returning to the lineup after missing week two with an injury- hit Shamawd Chambers for a 14-yard touchdown just under three minutes into the game. That energized the boisterous frosh week crowd of over 4400, who despite rainy conditions, stuck around for most of the game.

Kelly looked a different quarterback compared to the way he played in week one against Western, finishing 19-34 for 281 yards, adding another 54 yards on the ground.

“That’s the kid that we saw in camp for 12 days,” said Jeffries of Kelly. “He’s very poised, he didn’t make a lot of mistakes, he reads well, he got the ball to the people that are open, he’s just a kid that’s very consistent and that was what we saw today.”

A big factor in the Hawks’ success was Kelly’s ability to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers. After being largely ineffective through the first two weeks of the season, Chambers along with fellow impact receivers Dillon Heap and Jeff Emberley combined for 18 catches and 277 yards.

Meanwhile second-year running back Anton Bennett atoned for his last minute fumble against McMaster, rushing for 75 yards on 16 carries posting a pair of touchdowns.

“Having new guys, having a shorter training camp this year, just getting more time to work with the receivers and the line and the running backs has been huge,” said Kelly of the offence’s imporvement.

“Any time you start the season 0-2, and you get that first win, it’s really a monkey off your back. It’s definitely a positive start and we can definitely build on this going into our bye week.”

Defensively, the Hawks completely shut down the Blues’ attack, limiting them to just 147 total yards and two field goals. The purple and gold also forced three interceptions, with Waterloo Warriors transfer Mitch Nicholson recording two and linebacker Mitchell Bosch adding another.

“Our defence is a great group,” said Jeffries. “There’s a lot of good athletes on the field and their playmakers. I can’t say enough about them, they just do an outstanding job.”

The Hawks will have to wait an extra week for their next live action as they will have a bye this weekend, before taking on the winless York Lions at home on Sept. 25.

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