Men’s Football team climbs the rankings to the fifth overall spot in the CIS

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros
Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

Eric Guiltinan has been waiting four years for this.

The fifth-year running back of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks was on the bench last season, backing up all-star running back, Dillon Campbell. But with the departure of Campbell to the Canadian Football League, Guiltinan picked up the starter role, and as the season goes on, he has only gotten better.

Last game, Guiltinan rushed for a personal best of 180-yards in the Hawks 74-3 victory against the York Lions and led the Ontario University Athletics conference in rushing yards per game at 132.5.

And now, in what could be the biggest game of the Hawks’ season thus far, Guiltinan came through, reaching a personal best 200-yards on 23 carries, on the way to a 17-16 win over the No. 4 nationally-ranked Carleton Ravens, last Saturday afternoon.

“He’s waited four years on the bench for this opportunity,” head coach Michael Faulds said. “So everyone was obviously loving number 34 Dillon Campbell and what a phenomenal back he is. But Eric was always in the wings ready to go.”

“He has trained extremely hard, he has waited his time for this opportunity and he is making the most of it,” Faulds continued.

The win extends the Hawks’ unbeaten streak to three and is the first time since 2007 that the Hawks started the season 3-0.

“It was a great team win; obviously everyone is really high right now. We started off pretty slow in the first half, but [it] shows how tough our team is sticking with it for four quarters,” Guiltinan said.

“It would have been easy for the defence to give up but it shows you how great our team is, how much we believe in each other.”

The offence started out shaky. Starting quarterback, Julien John, struggled to get the offence going and only threw for six-yards in the first two quarters, completing 2-9 passes with an interception.

The Ravens jumped out to a seven-point lead with the help of two conceded safeties and a field goal from Michael Domagala. The Hawks defence tied the game up three minutes before halftime when second-year Scott Hutter intercepted the ball from Carleton quarterback, Jesse Mills and ran 54-yards into the endzone to tie the game at seven.

But when the Hawks initiated a quarterback change, the offence clicked.

“Offensively, I’m really proud because we really stunk up the joint in the first half, but the guys stuck together,” Faulds said. “We make a quarterback switch going with Michael Knevel in the second half and those run plays early in the game that weren’t as successful, we started to wear on them.”

First-year quarterback Michael Knevel entered the game, and immediately the game changed. Carleton added another safety and a touchdown by Kyle VanWynsberghe to extend their lead to nine, but the Hawks’ offence buckled down.

That’s when Guiltinan got to work.

Guiltinan ran for 167-yards on 17 carries in the second half, including a 36-yard sprint in the third quarter that was stopped short at the goal. Third-year Darian Waite punched it in to cut the Ravens’ lead to two and second-year kicker Nathan Mesher completed the comeback with a eight-yard field goal through the uprights with six minutes remaining to take the one-point lead.

“Those runs in the first half, we know they are not going to be the greatest runs,” Guiltinan said. “But the defence gets tired and they start popping off in the last half.”

The defensive unit stood tall, forcing Carleton to punt the ball away. Guiltinan broke free and sprinted 50-yards all the way to the Carleton 18-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the game to put pressure on the Ravens. The Hawks ran out the clock, downing the Ravens on their home soil.

Knevel finished the game completing 4-8 passes, for 40 yards. Mills finished the game completing 19-36 passes for 202 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. Faulds was proud of the team and the way the defence held a team that averaged 38 points per game to only 16 points.

“Defensively, we’ve been unbelievable all year. [Carleton] is a really high-powered offence, so holding them down to 16 points is pretty incredible,” he said.

With the Ravens in the rearview mirror, the Hawks turn their attention to Waterloo Warriors on Homecoming weekend.

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