Golden Hawks Fall to Mustangs in OUA Semifinals

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The Laurier men’s football team travelled to London on Saturday to take on the defending
Yates Cup champions, the Western Mustangs. Despite being in the month of November, the
temperature pushed 21 degrees Celsius. The weather would end up being a key factor in the
game where both teams would have to minimize mistakes playing into the strong 40km/h winds.

The Hawks opened the scoring, but could not secure the win against the best team in the country.
The Hawks came into Saturday after a confident quarter-final win a week prior, and one
spot up in the national rankings, placing the team at number eight. The Hawks have not beaten
the Mustangs since the 2016 Yates Cup final, the win would have sent Laurier to the finals for
the first time in six years.

Early in the first quarter, the defence for Laurier was looking strong, forcing their
opponents into two third downs on the first drive of the game, only gaining 13 yards on five
plays. After the Laurier possession resulted in a rouge point, Shomari Hutchinson read the pass
from Mustangs quarterback Evan Hillock, intercepting the ball for a pick six of 36 yards.

That pass was the first interception thrown by Hillock all season. Laurier led 8-0 at the quarter’s
halfway point, even though they only had one first down in the whole quarter and just over three
minutes of possession.

Dawson Hodge awed with a 94 yard punt, the longest of his season, to pick up his second
rouge point of the game. The score would end 9-3 in favour of Laurier to enter the second
quarter, where, unfortunately, the offence started to struggle.
Western gained a one point advantage on a single yard rushing touchdown and would
add a rouge point from the kickoff. All three rouge points in the game came from the wind at the
player’s backs.

The Laurier defence stayed stable through the second quarter. Ife Onyemenam made one
of his two solo tackles to back Western up two yards, then Nico McCarthy forced an incomplete
pass. Both efforts gave the Hawks some defensive energy, pressuring Western on their next drive
leading to Hillock’s rush attempt losing 12 yards and the first 15 yard penalty of the game, for a
total of 25 lost yards.

Despite the slow first quarter score wise from Western, they ended the half up 14-9. The
offence and defence both fired for the Mustangs, keeping the Hawks to 3 total first downs in the
half, while acquiring 12 total first downs.

“[Western is] a team that you can hang early on, but then it’s a battle of attrition as the
game goes on.” Coach Michael Faulds explained in response to closing the score gap.
The third quarter was disastrous for the Hawks. Faulds said postgame, “About [a] five,
six minute span, the game really turned.” Laurier’s first possession ended in a Tanner Nelmes
fumble, a Western recovery, and a short rush to split the defence for a touchdown. The ball hit a
wall of wind on the next kickoff allowing for another Western recovery and back-to-back
touchdowns.

The Mustangs were relentless in their pressure. Quarterback Taylor Elgersma was taken
down with a powerful sack, and again Western was able to recover the ball for a field goal.
Minutes later, Elgersma was sacked a second time and Hodge’s field goal attempt from 52 yards
was unsuccessful. Western set a comfortable lead in what was once a close game.
Western would add two more touchdowns to increase their dominant lead, ending the
game 45-9.

“We were super excited for that second half, going down 14 to 9. It’s a close game … We
had the wind so we needed to make plays in that [third] quarter.” Faulds said. “It’s not from lack
of effort … there’s no one on [that] field out of the 48 guys we dressed that didn’t want it badly
… Credit to [Western] … They were opportunistic.

As the team moves into the offseason, Faulds acknowledged the amount of work to do to
help the young offensive core grow, and hopes the team can find motivation in the adversity.


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