Mustangs trample Hawks
The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team posted their first loss of the season in a rather embarrassing fashion on Saturday afternoon. The Hawks traveled to London and fell 30-7 to the perennially hated Western Mustangs.
In a game that was meant to be a showcase of the two most complete teams in the province, the Hawks’ offence simply did not measure up. They were ineffective throughout the game, finishing with just 208 total yards – compared to the Mustangs’ 435 – and coming within 21 seconds of being shut-out for the first time in 25 years.
“I think we beat ourselves more than anything,” said manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries. “We had opportunities to make plays but we just didn’t. We said coming in that it was going to be a field position game and we played nearly the whole game in our own end.”
Third-year quarterback Luke Thompson was particularly off in this contest. Thompson, a London native, had a rough homecoming, finishing 11-21 for just 71 yards as well as an interception before giving way to back-up Evan Pawliuk early in the fourth quarter.
Pawliuk would go on to throw the Hawks’ only touchdown of the game, a 34 yard pass to second-year receiver Shamawd Chambers, with 21 seconds remaining in the game.
“We just stalled out there,” said Thompson of the offence’s struggles. “Our defence was playing well but we were the unit that really struggled. We’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously we got blown out today, but we’re not going to run and hide, we’re going to come back fighting and start preparing for next week right away.”
Providing stark contrast to the Hawks’ dismal passing performance was Mustangs’ quarterback Michael Faulds, who went 21-30 for 315 yards and two touchdowns against the Hawks’ defence, which put up a valiant effort but spent too much time on the field to remain effective.
Fourth-year linebacker Giancarlo Rapanaro had a particularly strong game for the Hawks, making nine tackles – five of which were for a loss – and adding two and a half sacks.
“We played well defensively but we did make a few mistakes and a team like Western will always make you pay for those mistakes,” said Rapanaro. “If we keep preparing like we have been and play to the best of our abilities I think we’ll be fine.”
Coming into the game, many were calling this match-up a preview of the Yates cup. However, the number two nationally ranked Mustangs proved that as of now there is a large gap between them and the Hawks.
“Western’s definitely one of the top teams in the country,” said Rapanaro. “They’re throws are always on time, they’re quick off the ball, it’s a huge difference [from playing University of Toronto last week]. But I think we can compete with them, we’ve just got to go and get back on the horse.”
The Hawks now turn their sights to cross-town rivals, the Waterloo Warriors, who they will play on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. in their home opener at University Stadium.
“Our defence came out and played a tremendous game,” said Jeffries.
“They really gutted it out and hung in there. We played pretty much the entire third quarter in our end and we only gave up the long pass to [Western running back Da’Shawn] Thomas. They were on the field for a long time but they played a great game.”