Laurier enters bye week, 1-2, after 36-16 loss against #3 or third ranked Mustangs
Despite leading throughout three quarters and putting forth an impressive defensive performance, Coach Faulds and the Laurier Golden Hawks dropped their second consecutive game, losing to the Mustangs 36-16.
The Western Mustangs who returned home and entered the game as the top ranked team in Ontario, used a dominant fourth quarter to score 22 unanswered points and come back from a 15-7 deficit to improve their record to 2-1.
After Laurier’s defense shut out Western in the first half, the Mustangs flipped the switch in the second. After a slow start, Western was able to get their top ranked rushing offense in gear, starting the third quarter with a 51-yard touchdown rush by Keon Edwards, the conference’s second leading rusher.
Laurier’s offense struggled to move the ball down the field in the second half as Western’s offense got into a groove and the Mustangs capitalized on a Savaugh Magnaye-Jones 55-yard punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter, to take their first lead of the game.
Freshman quarterback Taylor Elgersma started his second career game for the Golden Hawks after an ugly four interception performance last week against Waterloo. For the second straight week, Elgersma faced a mountain of pressure, matched up against another nationally ranked team and a fierce rival in Western.
Returning to his hometown of London this week, Elgersma played a strong game, despite not throwing a touchdown. Elgersma did not commit a turnover and was able to connect with Ente Eguavoen, Nick Peterman and Romy Simpson on some impressive throws.
After a one-sided loss to the Warriors, which saw Laurier give up 27 points in the first half, the Golden Hawks came out of the gates quick and caused frequent challenges to the potent Mustangs offense. Laurier shut out Western in the opening two quarters and was able to record three interceptions, and two fumbles in the game, increasing their league-leading total.
The Golden Hawks opened the scoring with two field goals and a single by Dawson Hodge. Hodge, who leads the OUA in overall scoring with 29 points has now begun his Laurier career, a perfect 12/12 on all field goal and extra point attempts.
Laurier went into the halftime break, leading 7-0 as the defense recorded three sacks and forced three takeaways, led by veteran linebacker Tommy Bringi and defensive back Christian Hutter-Coppin who each recorded an interception.
The second half was the main difference, as Western opened the scoring two minutes in with Edward’s touchdown run – the longest in the conference this season — before connecting on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Justin Nickson at the end of the third.
With Laurier still holding a slim lead with four minutes left, Hodge punted to Magnaye-Jones who had the first return touchdown in league play this season, putting Western up 20-16.
Two rushing touchdowns in the last two minutes, by Trey Humes, put the game out of reach and helped the Mustangs win their fifth consecutive game against the Golden Hawks.
On the strength of their dominant second half, the Mustangs rushed for three combined touchdowns, 257 total yards and nearly seven yards per carry, compared to less than 100 rushing yards by Laurier.
While only committing one turnover, the Golden Hawks committed nine penalties and punted the ball eleven times. Two areas that Coach Faulds will certainly focus on as the team looks to regroup, entering the thanksgiving holiday and their bye week.
While Peterman, Simpson and Eguavoen each had over 50 yards receiving, no Laurier rusher had over 30 yards on the ground as the offense struggled with balance and ultimately could not advance the ball in the later stages of the game.
The Golden Hawks have committed a slew of penalties in each of their first three games and will hope to get their offense back in gear after scoring only 28 combined points the past two weeks, after 37 in the opener against York.
The Golden Hawks drop to 1-11 against the Mustangs in Coach Faulds’ tenure and have not beat Western since the memorable Yates Cup Victory, 43-40, five years ago, in London.
While falling to 1-2 on the year, the Golden Hawks can take some positives out of their matchup with Western. The defense played strong, while Elgersma and the passing offense showed some potential despite some growing pains in the second half.
With three games down and three to go, the Golden Hawks will head into their bye week before a road matchup against McMaster (1-1). Laurier will be back in action two Saturdays from now, when they travel to Hamilton, to play the tenth ranked Marauders. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM EST on Oct. 16 and can be watched on OUA.TV.