Laurier’s season ends with 32-18 loss to No. 2 Mustangs

WLU v Western

(Will Huang/Photo Editor)

LONDON, Ont. — Another chapter is in the books between the No. 9 nationally-ranked Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and the No. 2 Western Mustangs.

The Hawks suffered a heartbreaking 32-18 loss against the Mustangs on Saturday afternoon during the Ontario University Athletics semifinal matchup at TD Waterhouse Stadium.

The loss ended the season for the Hawks in a game that could have gone either way.

“I feel really bad for our seniors,” head coach Michael Faulds said after the game. “I’m happy they got a playoff win finally last week, guys like Greg Nyhof, Dillon Campbell, tons of these guys that played their last football game for the purple and gold.”

“I really feel for them right now, for our young guys, I know they are really motivated. They are going to work hard this off-season, but today’s just about our seniors and them not going out in the way they wanted, but I told them that they’ve got to be happy of the way this season ended considering where it was halfway through.”

From the minute the whistle blew at the beginning of the first quarter to the end of the game, the stadium turned into a battlefield. Fifth-year running back Dillon Campbell, who was battling injury through the entire season, was taken out of the game after a 53-yard run when he was tackled and did not return. He finished the day with 73 yards in two quarters.

 

After being tied 6-6 on four field goals, Western began to try to pull away after a touchdown to lead 15-6. But Laurier pulled within two points of the Mustangs with a pick-six by Malcolm Thompson to set the tone for a gritty second half, and it did not cease to impress.

Mustang star quarterback Will Finch was taken out of the game due to injury early in the third quarter. But the Mustangs prevailed — and Laurier was bombarded with penalties and a sputtering offence that could not get anything going.

The Mustangs pulled away, thanks to Stephenson Bone and his effective use of the ground game, but were held close by the stellar Laurier defence.

Laurier’s Godfrey Onyeka ended the day with 11 tackles while Brandon Calvert finished with 9 tackles.

“Our defence against the top offence in the country played outstanding. We just couldn’t make enough plays of our own, but we battled,” Faulds explained.

A late touchdown sealed the deal for Western, as they took a commanding 32-18 lead late in the fourth quarter. With everything on the line, Laurier threw a few bombs to the Western endzone, but penalties and incomplete passes became the enemy.

“Offensive, it just wasn’t our day. Trying to get it going can be frustrating when you can’t string plays together but we’re proud of the way our offence battled,” second-year quarterback Eric Morelli said.

In two quarters, Finch went 17-for-24 for 160 yards and one interception, while Bone went 3-for-6 for 20 yards for the remaining half. Morelli went 10-for-24 for 128 yards and two interceptions to end the day.

This game marked the only time this season the Mustangs were held to only three points in a quarter and the first time the Mustangs were tied in play this season.

The Laurier defence held their own against the high-powered Mustangs, proving to be a challenge and scaring the top offensive team in the league.

Despite the loss, Faulds was happy with how the boys battled against the second top team in the country.

“Obviously the closest score that Western’s been involved in, and you don’t take a ton of positives out of that, but I’m just proud of how our guys battled. We showed a lot of heart,” Faulds said.

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