Homecoming ends in heartbreak for Golden Hawk football

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

That was the definition of heartbreak.

After storming back in the final possession of the fourth quarter to tie — or potentially win — their Homecoming game, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks settled for an overtime loss on a blocked field goal, 26-25 to the visiting Windsor Lancers.

The heartbreak began with a potential touchdown catch by Anthony Pizzuti in the final minutes of the game, however Pizzuti was ruled out of bounds, and ended with a rouge that forced Laurier to score on their possession in overtime. But a blocked field goal ended Laurier’s chances.

“I thought he had it,” said quarterback James Fracas, who went 23-for-33 and 313 yards and two touchdowns. “He’s our best jump ball receiver so I just put it up there for him and let him go get it. I thought he was in but obviously the ref made the call and we have to live with it.”

Windsor sprung out to a 8-3 lead at the end of the first quarter after Mitch Dender scored the first of his two touchdowns on the day.

Third-year kicker Ronnie Pfeffer would nail a 44-yard field goal to give Laurier their three points.

But in the second, Laurier’s offence pushed forward. Pfeffer would put up a 39-yarder to start off the quarter before Fracas would connect with Pizzuti on a 14-yard pass to put Laurier up 13-11 at the half.

Despite a quiet third quarter, the fourth was anything but tame. Windsor started off with two consecutive touchdowns to widen the gap between the Lancers and the home Hawks. Clark Grace would receive a catch from Lancer quarterback Austin Kennedy and Dender would score his second major of the day on a three-yard run after a lofty snap on third down by Laurier.

But it wasn’t the end.

With less than seven minutes to go in the game, Fracas would use his scrambling abilities to give running back Dillon Campbell time to be wide open. Fracas would connect with Campbell for a 53-yard pass and the major that would put Laurier within three.

With less than a minute and a half left on the clock, Laurier was on their last possession. The Hawks, led by Fracas and full back Isaac Dell with a few big gains for first downs, marched into Lancer territory.

Fracas would try to find Pizzuti in the endzone, and though it seemed it was caught, the referees ruled Pizzuti’s potential game-wining catch as out of bounds, forcing Pfeffer to nail a 20-yard field goal to send it into overtime.

Pfeffer would have no trouble on the kick and the Hawks and Lancers headed into extra time.

After forcing Windsor to a 2-and-out, kicker Dan Cerino would entirely miss the uprights, but a tough ball forced Laurier’s William Pitt-Doe to have trouble handling the return, and Windsor scored the single.

On the ensuing play, Pfeffer’s potentially game-winning field goal was blocked by a sea of Lancers, giving Windsor the one-point win.

“Was he in? I don’t know,” said head coach Michael Faulds after the game. “I thought he was in. From our vantage point it’s tough. I was even asking the guys in the booth but with the beer garden there, it’s a tough angle to see. That’s one of the disadvantages [to University Stadium].”

“Again, moral of the story, I’m proud of our guys how we battled back,” he continued. “We were down ten points with half of the fourth quarter gone. Our guys, you didn’t see the heads down on the sideline. They battled back, our defence stopped them and we were able to get those ten points back.”

With the loss, Laurier now drops to 1-5 with only two games left to play. Laurier travels to Kingston next weekend to take on the Queen’s Gaels, who currently sit 4-1 after a tough loss to the undefeated Western Mustangs.

“Our guys will be excited for that,” Faulds said of the Queen’s road game. “It’s no different than playing Western last week. It’s a big opponent, a veteran team, a really well coached team.

“I think it will be kind of fun for our guys, we’ve played most of our games within the tri-cities. We get a chance to get on a road, leave Friday, get in a hotel, get away from here and just go play some football.”

Game time next week is 1 p.m.

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