Lancers play last second spoilers
The football hawks were devasted in a 41-40 last-second loss to the visiting Windsor Lancers.
In Canadian football, it can take one second and one play to take the victory. And that’s exactly what the Lancers did in front of 5,126 fans at University Stadium Saturday night for Wilfrid Laurier’s football home opener.
With one second remaining and a tie game, deadlocked at 40, the Lancers went for the rouge, a one-point play with the punt reaching the end zone, winning the game 41-40.
The Lancers booted it, Laurier’s star punt returner Dillon Heap caught it, and tried to kick it back out of bounds to prevent the loss, but it wound up right back into the hands of the Lancers.
A third kick was taken and the ball plummeted into the end zone advertising boards.
The game was over.
Laurier had dropped its home opener and evened their record at 1-1 against a team who most felt would be Laurier’s second nicely-wrapped and packaged win.
The turning point of the game was an unfortunate one for both the Hawks and the Lancers.
Starting quarterback Sam Malian went down and left the game with an injured arm after being brought down awkwardly from behind by linebacker Mitchell Bosch.
Malian left the game in an ambulance. The quarterback has had a long and storied history with numerous different injuries in his university career.
Second-string quarterback Austin Kennedy took the reins of his team with a huge running game. Kennedy’s wheels surprised the usually-stellar Hawks’ defence and he finished 25 of 37 for 457 yards and five touchdowns. Malian went 2 of 5 for 36 yards.
Hawks’ starting quarterback Shane Kelly went 21 of 33 for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
And it was another nail-biting first half for the Golden Hawks.
For the second game in a row, the purple and gold would find the end zone about five minutes in versus the Windsor Lancers, and once again, it was Dillon Heap who got the season-opening frosh crowd into it. Heap caught a 30-yard pass from starting quarterback Shane Kelly to give the Laurier the opening 7-0 lead.
Windsor would concede the safety just over a minute later to spot the Hawks a 9-0 advantage.
In the second quarter, it was Anton Bennett who decided to take over the contest. Bennett rushed for 66 yards alone in the first half and found seams through the middle that have historically eluded the Hawks’ ground game.
Bennett caught a nine yard pass from Kelly to give the Hawks a more comfortable gap. He finished with 132 yards rushed and a touchdown.
With that 16-0 lead, the Hawks fell dangerously close to letting the match slip through their fingers once again. Nearing the end of the half, Windsor struck back with a 21-yard pass from Kennedy to receiver Cory Fernandes.
In the third quarter, it was Felix Odum who got the crowd rumbling. After a Windsor touchdown received by Fernandes, Odum returned the punt for 44 yards, forcing the line of scrimmage to about the Windsor 40-yard line.
That would result in a clutch haul-in by star receiver Shamawd Chambers and on the following play Bennett would reach the end zone on an 18 yard run to continue his monstrous game.
Following that, Windsor wide receiver Evan Pszczonak reached the end zone to cut the lead to just four for the Hawks.
But on the ensuing kickoff, punt returner Odum ran a tremendous 92 yards, escaping all kinds of tackles to spot the Hawks’ lead to 33-22.
To start the fourth quarter, Kennedy found Pszczonak for another Windsor touchdown.
Laurier then took a knee as their offence was trapped in their own goal with 90 yards to make up. Nathan Hawkes could have taken the punt, but had been injured and looked off in various plays beforehand.
Heap and Isaac Dell revived the offence late in the fourth quarter after the team had been largely suffocated in the second half. Kelly hit a wide open Mark Surya with just under two minutes left in the game on the late-game drive.
But Windsor struck right back as Fernandes caught a 16-yard ball and the game was tied at 40. The Lancers finished it off with the rouge.
The Hawks now travel to Kingston next Saturday before returning home to face the Western Mustangs on Sept. 24.