Golden Hawks improve record 6-1

Photo by Tanzeel Sayani

Photo by Tanzeel Sayani

The No.7 nationally-ranked Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks defeated the Guelph Gryphons 27-25 yesterday afternoon in front of 4652 fans. The win improved the Hawks record to 6-1, their most wins in a season since 2009.

Head coach Michael Faulds knew that the overall record of the defending Yates Cup champions did not represent the team they played.

“We said to the guys this week, they’re not a 2 and 4 football team and they showed that today. They took us right down to the wire,” he said. “24-6 you’d like to put them away. We let them hang around just long enough, but in the end we made enough plays to get the win.”

The Hawks got on the board quickly, when running back Levondre Gordon rushed 71-yards all the way to the Gryphon endzone five minutes into the game to take a 7-0 lead. The Gryphons remained resilient, notching two field goals by kicker Gabriel Ferraro to pull within one point.

The offence exploded, scoring 17 unanswered points in the next two quarters. Gordon recorded 193 rushing yards on 12 carries and a touchdown, while Brendan McCracken and Brentyn Hall lead the way for the Hawks receiving corps, picking up a combined total of 146-yards on five catches. Laurier starting pivot Michael Knevel completed 15 of his 27 passes, finishing the game with 222 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception.

But the Gryphons stuck around, finding holes in the defence and keeping the game close. An eventful second half saw Guelph climb out of an 18-point deficit, with runs by Mack Jones and Guelph quarterback James Roberts to get within five points of a potential upset. Roberts finished the day with 23 of 37 completed passes for 296 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.

They got close, too. With 26 seconds remaining in the game, the Gryphons scored another touchdown — a 9-yard pass to Kian Schaffer-Baker and suddenly Guelph was a two-point conversion away from tying it up.

But an eventful play lead to Laurier linebacker Nakas Onyeka shutting down the Gryphon offensive line and their hopes completely diminished when the Golden Hawks recovered the ensuing onside kick. Onyeka recounted the dramatic finish that lead to the Hawks sealing the victory.

“If I remember correctly, the ball got tipped and then Johnny Augustine recovered it, Brandon Calver put a hit on him and he lateraled the ball to James [Roberts] and I just saw it and tried to react,” Onyeka said. “Thank God it turned out the way it turned out. Obviously, Guelph is a good team and we didn’t want to see them another time, but [we are] thankful to get that done in the fourth quarter rather than overtime.”

The Laurier defence also recorded four sacks against the Gryphons, with Onyeka leading the way for the defence with 1.5 sacks, 12 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.

The win puts Laurier within striking distance of claiming a first-round playoff bye and a chance to play a semifinal game at home.

Next, the Hawks finish their season when they travel to Windsor to take on the Windsor Lancers. Currently, the Lancers have an overall record of 2-4 and are fighting for a playoff spot. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Alumni Field on Saturday October 22.

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