Hawks punch ticket to postseason with 49-26 victory over Gaels
KINGSTON, Ont. — Well, that was a heck of a month.
After a soul-crushing defeat at the hands of the Windsor Lancers at the end of September, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team found their stride.
They defeated the Ottawa Gee-Gees knowing they had playoffs on their mind. They came close to the McMaster Marauders, showing glimpses of a full, well-rounded team.
And then, with their destiny in their hands, the Hawks punched their ticket to the postseason with a 49-26 victory over the Queen’s Gaels at Queen’s Homecomng. This marks the second straight season the Hawks have made it to the postseason.
The last time the Hawks beat the Gaels at Richardson stadium was in 2007 and it was the first time they won against Queen’s since 2010.
“A great month,” head coach Michael Faulds said after the game. “I just told our guys I was so proud of them — it couldn’t get more depressing than it was after our Windsor Homecoming game. It looked like it was going to be tough for us to make the playoffs, but our guys looked themselves in the mirror and said, ‘We’re going to all do more and dig deeper’ and they did that.”
After an early Queen’s touchdown put the Gaels up early in the first quarter, the defence settled down and took control of the game. Laurier forced the Gaels to a concede safety and then followed up with a field goal by second-year Nathan Mesher to cut the lead to two. Second-year defensive lineman Rashari Henry collected the Hawks’ first defensive touchdown of the day when he scooped up a forced fumble at the Gaels 38-yard line and ran it into the endzone to take a 12-5 lead.
Laurier’s defensive unit continued to stand tall against the Gaels’ offence, forcing two fumbles, three interceptions and scoring two defensive touchdowns. Fifth-year defensive lineman Asante Mizan picked off Gaels quarterback Nate Hobbs and ran it 30-yards for a pick-six.
“It was magic,” said Mizan, who played his final regular season in the purple and goal. “I was kind of thinking when they say you know when time slows down, but it was awesome. I had a little pain going on, battling a lot of injuries since training camp and I’m just happy, you got to be in the right place at the right time.”
It wasn’t until five minutes into the third quarter when Laurier scored their first offensive touchdown when starting quarterback Eric Morelli connected with Daniel Bennett for an 18-yard reception to extend the lead to 35-14.
A late touchdown by fourth-year running back Eric Guiltinan would put the nail in the coffin for the Gaels with 44 seconds left in the fourth quarter, giving Laurier a commanding 49-26 lead and sending the Hawks to the postseason.
Morelli went 12-for-21 for 123 passing yards and a touchdown, while Hobbs went 19-for-35 for 248 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Dillon Campbell and Guiltinan split the ground game, with Campbell running for 139 yards through 28 carries while Guiltinan ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
Laurier finishes sixth in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference, and will face a familiar opponent in the McMaster Marauders in the quarter-final. The game will be Oct. 31 at Ron Joyce Stadium with the time to be determined.