Laurier stays golden in homecoming win
Over 4,000 fans turned University Stadium into a sea of purple and gold as the Laurier football team hosted the McMaster Marauders in the annual Homecoming football game.
Expectations were high for the Hawks as they looked to maintain their perfect record against the struggling Marauders.
“I told the guys all week, ‘Don’t look at the standings’. McMaster is a good opponent that has lost some very tough, close games.” Head Coach Michael Faulds said.
The Marauders proved to be a tough opponent as they held the Hawks and the scoreboard at zero by the end of the first quarter, marking the first time all season the Hawks failed to put points on the board.
However, in the second quarter, the Hawks jumped in front on a 56 yard touchdown pass from Taylor Elgersma to Ethan Jordan, who powered through a tackle to reach the endzone.
Dawson Hodge secured the extra point to put the Hawks up 7-0.
Not long after, the Hawks opted for a safety, giving McMaster two points.
On the next McMaster drive, the Marauders found the endzone to pull ahead of the Hawks 9-7, putting the home side behind for the first time since their Week One match against Queen’s.
“At halftime, I told the guys maybe we thought it was going to be easier than it is. McMaster isn’t going to give us the game. We have to go out and take the game.” Faulds said.
The message got through to Faulds’ side as the Hawks rallied in the second half starting with a touchdown from Jesulayomi Ojutalayo.
Later in the third quarter, the Hawks reached the Marauders one yard line, where Elgersma would rush for his third touchdown of the season. Quickly, the Hawks were back on top 21-9.
Picking up the pace again in the fourth quarter, the Hawks only let McMaster attain 29 yards in their opening drive before the Laurier offense went back to work.
Their opening drive of 100 yards ended in a touchdown from Tanner Nelmes, who ended the game with a season high 74 rushing yards.
Another short-lived drive from McMaster led to a touchback single point for Hodge, increasing the Hawks lead to 20 points.
But the Hawks remained hungry, determined to increase the gap.
With under three minutes remaining in the game, Faulds substituted Elgersma for first year secondary Quarterback Isaac Willis.
Willis made no mistake, finding Ryan Hughes in the endzone for his first career touchdown pass.
The Hawks regrouped for a successful 29 point second half to beat the Marauders 36-9.
More impressive than the score was the numbers the Hawks offense and defense put up.
Jordan, Ojutalayo, and Raidan Thorne all had over 100 receiving yards each, with seven receivers accumulating a total of 466 yards.
On the defensive end, Ife Onyemenam put up five tackles, one sack, and two interceptions.
“I’m ecstatic. I feel like I left it all on the field.” Onyemenam said.
“As long as we’re all out there and we’re balling … we pride ourselves in going out there and dominating every time.” He added, crediting his teammates.
The Hawks improved to 5-0 on the season, their best start since 2007.
Onyemenam expressed his team’s feelings on the perfect record:
“We’re riding high, but we’re definitely not cocky. Every week we go in to, we respect our opponent … Every week we reset ourselves …We’ll ride our high, and then the next day we are in the locker room, we’re getting better.”
As for the schedule ahead, the Hawks see a bye week in Week Six before clashing with Ottawa, Windsor, and Western to finish the season.
Windsor and Western accompany the Hawks with being the only teams left in the OUA with perfect records.
“We’re going to spend the whole bye week getting healthy.”
Faulds said, acknowledging the well needed rest for his team.
“[We are] working toward the second half of the season which has three of the premier programs in the conference.”
“There are no trophies being handed out now. We have to continue to get better.”