Hawks claim crucial win over Gaels
This season the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team has found themselves staring down a loss at various times during their games. There was the second quarter versus Western, the third quarter versus Ottawa and the final seconds versus McMaster.
But this past weekend, the Hawks suddenly found themselves dealing with a loss five weeks after the game had taken place.
Due to the situation surrounding the eligibility of defensive end David Montoya, Laurier was forced to forfeit their Sept. 11 win over the University of Toronto and a 37-6 victory suddenly became a 1-0 loss.
“Obviously it’s really disappointing, but we can’t control what goes on in the boardroom, our focus has to be out on the field,” said Hawks’ manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries. “But most of all I’m disappointed for David Montoya, he’s gone through a lot and he’s a warrior, he’s still here with us and he’ll continue to be a big part of this football team.”
As a result of the ruling, the Hawks’ record dropped from 3-3 to 2-4, making their already important game with the Queen’s Gaels on Saturday a must-win.
“I think we approached it the right way,” said Laurier quarterback Shane Kelly of the forfeit situation. “We just kind of expected the worst and hoped [for] the best but we came into [the Queen’s] game looking at it as a playoff game.”
And with their playoff hopes potentially on the line, the Hawks came out showing no ill effects of having a win taken away, beating the Gaels 44-23, almost guaranteeing themselves a playoff spot.
Fuelling a Laurier win was an explosive second quarter which saw the Hawks score 43 of their 44 points, with Kelly throwing three touchdown passes.
Running back Rashad La Touche had a rushing touchdown, while fullback Isaac Dell had two in a quarter which saw the Hawks score six touchdowns in less than 10 minutes, turning a 10-0 deficit into a 43-10 halftime lead.
“I was very proud of this group today,” said Jeffries. “We’ve got a lot of good athletes here and our kids stepped up in that second quarter and really put this thing away.”
The second half would prove to be problematic once again for the Hawks, as the offence only mustered a single point.
“Coach [Jeffries] said that the second quarter was one of the best quarters he’s ever seen,” said receiver Dustin Zender, who caught two of Kelly’s touchdown passes. “We’ve just got to take that magic and put it into a full game.”
The Hawks’ defence – which has been the closest thing the team’s had to a constant this season – held Queen’s quarterback Justin Chapdelaine to just 89 yards passing, forcing three interceptions (1 off back-up Billy McPhee). The Gaels also suffered from turnovers on special teams, fumbling twice, both of which led to Laurier touchdowns.
“We’ve got great coaches all around,” said linebacker Mitchell Bosch, a defensive captain and a regular on special teams. “They really motivate us to be at our best and we’re all capable of making plays out there. When we’re working together as a unit, good things happen and that’s what we saw today.”
The now 3-4 Hawks finish their regular season this Saturday with a road game versus the Windsor Lancers. Despite losing four games this season — something Laurier hasn’t had since 2001— the Hawks could still potentially host a playoff game should they defeat the 2-5 Lancers. With that in mind, the Hawks aren’t relaxing at all after their crucial win on Sunday.
“We’ve got to come out ready to work this week,” said Zender. “We said that this game and every game from here was playoffs. We know that everything’s on the line and we’ve got to come out and play like we did [against Queen’s.]”