Golden Hawks book ticket to Yates Cup
“We learned that there’s different ways to win … We have a tough, resilient team.” Head coach Michael Faulds said after the Hawks’ gritty win over the Windsor Lancers.
Coming off a blowout quarter final against the Waterloo Warriors, the Hawks were looking to keep the momentum going in the OUA semifinals against a Windsor side without their starting quarterback, and one of the top defences in the league.
The Hawks started strong, scoring on their opening drive on a 38 yard pass from Taylor Elgersma to Ethan Jordan. Windsor responded shortly after with a field goal to put the score at 7-3.
Later in the first, the Hawks entered Windsor’s red zone, but Jason Rushatsi forced Quentin Scott to fumble the ball, regaining possession for the Lancers. However, the Hawks defence was hot and made their presence felt. Nico McCarthy intercepted Nick Dimovski’s pass attempt to regain possession. The Hawks offence could not make anything of it as the Lancer defence returned the favour with an interception of their own.
Laurier’s defence was a key factor in the game with the offence looking uncomfortable, something the team and fans alike have not seen all season.
The second quarter saw another Windsor interception off of Elgersma, the first time this season he has registered two picks. However, Laurier’s defence proved their strength by getting yet another stop, allowing Windsor to only register two yards on the subsequent drive.
“It was our job [on defence] to make sure that we kept rolling and we gave [the offence] a chance.”Ife Onyemenam, Player on the Hawks
Windsor brought the game within one on another converted field goal nearing half time. The Hawks had an opportunity to widen the gap with a field goal of their own, but Dawson Hodge committed the rare miss to send the teams into halftime at 7-6 in favour of the home side.
Late in the third quarter, the Lancers took the lead on a Laurier safety to go up 8-7, shocking the 2,000 strong crowd at University Stadium. That would be the only points in the frame.
The Hawks took another hit as Dimovski rushed into the endzone for a touchdown. On the extra point attempt, the snap went high and Windsor could not convert. A crucial mistake for the Lancers gave the Hawks only a seven point deficit, and the team finally found a spark.
Elgersma, Scott, and Raidan Thorne led the Hawks to a first down, and gained an extra 15 yards on a Windsor penalty. Elgersma found Jordan twice for a combined 29 yards on two plays to enter the red zone. On third and goal, the team’s last effort to score on the drive, Elgersma made space and connected with a wide open Scott for the game tying touchdown.
Entering the last ten minutes, the Hawks kept pushing. The next Windsor drive accumulated only six yards, plus confusion on the snap lead to a time clock violation and penalty for Windsor. Onyemenam made a crucial play on the second down by knocking down the intended downfield pass, forcing Windsor to punt.
“Words can’t describe how happy I was, that was a big stop that we needed.”IFE Onyemenam, Player on the Hawks
Onyemenam’s play was another turning point in the match for the Hawks. On the Windsor punt, Jordan put on the wheels to return the ball 33 yards and allow his team a drive starting just inside the Windsor half.
The dominant offence took advantage with Elgersma finding Thorne in the endzone, placing the ball perfectly between two Lancers, to retake the lead at 21-14.
Windsor’s next drive looked promising as Laurier was flagged for pass interference, setting the Lancers up deep in Hawk territory. However, Windsor took two key penalties to lose 15 yards.
With 16 seconds left to play and Windsor at third and 26, Johari Hastings broke up the Dimovski endzone pass, preserving the Laurier lead and putting the Lancers to rest as the game ended 21-14.
The win books Laurier’s ticket to the Yates Cup for the first time since 2017, facing none other than the Western Mustangs.
“We’re one of eight teams still alive right now. Two teams still in Ontario. It’s coming to that time of year where every game, no matter how you win, you want to get out, one and 0.” Faulds said.
“We’re not just pleased with getting to the Yates Cup. We’re trying to win it.”