Golden Hawks move on to OUA finals
For the first time since 2009, the Golden Hawks hosted an OUA football playoff game this past Saturday.
The Hawks earned themselves a first round bye in the playoffs because of their impressive regular season record of 7-1. This was good enough for second place in the regular season, with only Western having as many wins.
The McMaster Marauders were the opponent on Saturday afternoon, as the Marauders advanced to the semi finals after beating Guelph at home last weekend.
Marauders quarterback, Asher Hastings got off to a poor start in this one, as he got picked off in each of his first two drives by Ron Kinga and Isaiah G-Messam.
The Golden Hawks, however, did not capitalize on these opportunities and were unable to break the scoreless draw.
Golden Hawks drive star running back, Eric Guiltinan fell awkwardly on his knee and needed to be carried off of the field. He did not return.
The game’s first points came off a 28-yard field goal, courtesy of Nathan Mesher and the Golden Hawks lead 3-0.
The lead wouldn’t last long as the Marauders responded with a field goal, knotting the score at 3.
Before the first quarter was up, quarterback Michael Knevel was able to hit Kurleigh Gittens Jr. for a 63-yard touchdown that gave the Golden Hawks a 10-3 after the first quarter.
Each team added another field goal in the second quarter and the Golden Hawks managed to get another touchdown late in the quarter led by an impressive run from Knevel.
The Golden Hawks were in the lead 20-6 at the half.
The third quarter didn’t bring any scoring until the final few minutes, when the Marauders were able to score their first touchdown of the game and cut into the Laurier lead.
Early on in the fourth quarter, the Marauders tried to convert on a 50-yard field goal. Their attempt was unsuccessful as Gittens. Jr ran the ball out of the end zone.
With five minutes left in the quarter, the Marauders scored another touchdown but missed the two-point conversion.
Laurier’s lead had shrunk once again and they now lead 21-19 with a dangerous amount of time still left on the clock.
This one came down to the final seconds, where the Golden Hawks defence managed to stop the Marauders on third and short. This allowed to Hawks to regain possession and run out the clock.
Head coach Michael Faulds praised his team’s effort.
“What an unbelievable performance by our guys today,” Faulds said.
Knevel was also named the Porter player of the game and Faulds was very happy with how he handled the pressure.
“Knevel was unreal today … Even at the end there, we were like ‘Michael, you’re going to have to throw it’ and he threw it. He was calm back there and using his legs. He hadn’t used his legs a ton this year and we knew they hadn’t seen it on film, so he was able to turn that into a couple of huge runs today.”
Knevel threw for 159-yards, managed one touchdown and rushed for an impressive 85-yards on his own.
The Golden Hawks are headed to the Yates Cup for the first time since 2006 and will face off against the Western Mustangs, a familiar and daunting opponent, as well as the only team that the Golden Hawks lost too this season.
“[Western has been a] been a premier team in this conference for a long time. That’s the one team we’ve never beaten. Obviously we respect them a ton and we’re going to have to play a perfect football game, but our guys are up for that challenge,” Faulds said.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. next Saturday at TD Stadium in London.