Hawks come from behind for first win of season

Laurier’s Karsten Beney tries to elude a York defender during Saturday’s nail-biting win. (Photo by Kate Turner).

In a must-win game, the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s football team finally said goodbye to their baggage.

After giving up a 17-6 lead with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Hawks brought out backup quarterback Steven Fantham for one last attempt to tie — or even win — an ever-important game against the visiting York Lions.

With 1:11 left on the clock, Fantham found rookie Lance Freeman, who ran 28 yards into the endzone to life the Hawks to a 24-20 victory.

“When we had to get it done, the kids got it done,” head coach Gary Jeffries said after the game.

The Hawks jumped out to an early 7-0 lead when quarterback Travis Eman rushed one yard for six points in the first quarter. Kicker Ronnie Pfeffer successfully made the conversion to go ahead, then completed a 26-yard field goal to go ahead 10-0.

Freeman then ran 16 yards after catching a pass from Eman for the second touchdown of the game, and his first of the match.

After Pfeffer finished the conversion, the lead was spread to 17-0 —  more points scored by Laurier than both their two previous games combined.

To end the half, York kicker Heneri Dervishi scored a 24-yard field goal to cut into the Hawks’ lead.

Then things got ugly.

The third quarter was controlled by the Lions, with another 24-yard field goal before Lashane Oldacre had an 81-yard pass from quarterback Myles Gibbon to score the first touchdown for the visitors.

“We’ve been talking all year about making plays at significant times during the football game,” Jeffries said. “For a while there we were kind of in the same mode that we had been for the first two games of the season. We were making errors, keeping them in it.“

The fourth quarter seemed to hinder the Hawks’ spirits as the Lions continued to push the offence forward. With just over five minutes left, York’s defensive back Chris States grabbed an interception off Eman and ran 24 yards for another touchdown, putting the Lions ahead 20-17 with 5:10 left on the clock.

Freeman’s final touchdown and Pfeffer’s conversion would put the Hawks up on the Lions with a minute left and they’d hang on for their first win of the year.

Linebacker Mitchell Bosch also made history Saturday afternoon, becoming the all-time Laurier leader for tackles.

“He’s just a super athlete, and a big heart. And fearless. Fearless. Great combination for a linebacker,” Jeffries said.

The Hawks will now head out to the nation’s capital to face the Ottawa Gee-Gees in another must-win game to keep their playoff hopes alive.

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