Hawks squeak into playoffs
GUELPH, Ont. — Needing a win to guarantee themselves a berth in the Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) playoffs, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks football squad stole a victory against the Guelph Gryphons by a score of 15-10 at Alumni Stadium.
Playing nowhere near their maximized capabilities, the Hawks were just good enough to beat a desperate Gryphons’ team that needed their own win to grab the sixth and final OUA playoff spot.
With the Hawks’ win and a Toronto victory over Waterloo on Saturday, the Hawks’ 4-4 record catapulted them above the 3-5 Toronto Varsity Blues, who finished seventh.
Laurier quarterback Shane Kelly completed 23 of 34 passing attempts for 183 yards and no touchdowns, and running back Rashad La Touche punched in a two-yard touchdown after the Gryphons’ David Honig fumbled the ball with ten minutes remaining at Guelph’s 17-yard line.
Kelly used the air game all day long as the unfavourable grass terrain wasn’t conducive to a Hawks’ running game not used to the muddy field. On a couple of occasions, both receiver Shamawd Chambers and cornerback Shane Herbert’s legs were taken out from under them after pivoting in the soaked and grassy earth.
Herbert had a chance to match his 107-yard touchdown interception after he had a clear lane while intercepting the ball at Laurier’s five yard line, but fell to the ground shortly after making the catch.
Points came at a premium for the two teams. Punter Ronnie Pfeffer had an outstanding game, kicking a 34-yard and a 43-yard field goal.
Each team found the red zone only three times, with Laurier converting twice and failing to make it by a stout Gryphons’ defence who stopped La Touche at the three yard line on a third-down drive.
Dan Ferraro kicked a 21-yard field goal and Guelph quarterback Jazz Lindsey connected with Jedd Gardner with 5.5 seconds left in the game to close the gap to five points at 15-10.
Tyrrel Wilson, the Hawks’ freshman running back from Hamilton had a terrific outing, collecting 70 yards rushing, and Dillon Heap amassed 137 all-purpose yards on the punt-return and receiving game.
After the contest, the two teams’ hostility from the game boiled over into the post-game handshake, and many players and coaches got into shouting matches as they were led off field.
For the Hawks, the bad blood might have resulted from the injury sustained to leading defensive back Mitchell Bosch, a result of unnecessary and late roughness by the Gryphons. His status is unknown for Saturday.
Laurier will now prepare for a quarter-finals date with the number-three seed Queen’s Gaels next Saturday at 1 p.m. in Kingston. The Hawks lost 58-35 against the Gaels in week three at Queen’s.