On the brink
The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks hope that this latest hiccup will be their last.
It has to be.
After a 25-6 loss to the visiting McMaster Marauders (6-1) at Alumni Field in front of 1,006 on Saturday, the Hawks (3-4) have destiny riding on their next and final game of the season in Guelph this Saturday.
Win, and squeeze into the sixth and final spot of the Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) playoff race.
Lose, and go home.
“It becomes the biggest game of our season,” said Hawks’ receiver Mark Surya. “It’s huge.”
Floundering in wet and stormy conditions, the purple and gold couldn’t capitalize during the two quarters with the huge gusts of wind at their back. McMaster did.
“It was bad for both of us,” said head coach Gary Jeffries.
“It’s hard out there,” said Surya. “There’s lots of wind, lots of rain, but both teams played in it. They made the plays, they scored the touchdowns, they got the points and we didn’t.”
The unruly weather ruined a showcase of two of the OUA’s premier passing squads, boasting two of the top quarterbacks in the league in McMaster’s Kyle Quinlan (recently back from a suspension) and Laurier’s Shane Kelly.
But Quinlan adapted to the soaked conditions a lot quicker and a lot more effectively than Kelly.
Quinlan threw for 14 of 26 attempts for 230 yards and a touchdown while his counterpart Kelly only threw 15 of 33 passes for 151 yards, no touchdowns and most devastatingly, two interceptions.
And they came at the worst times.
“Both times [late in the game], we were in the red zone and we came away with nothing,” said Surya. “I think it’s just execution, we’ve got to execute at key times … . It’s tough to get in a rhythm … we’re one of the top-ranked offences through the air, so we’ve definitely got to work on our running game,” said the fifth-year kinesiology major. “We should have been able to run better, but that’s on all of us players not making the blocks.”
Running back Anton Bennett was effective in his first game back from injury, rushing for 57 yards on six carries. But Bennett was the only threatening Hawk on the ground.
The Marauders’ Joey Cupido and Michael Daly both picked off Kelly, as what started out to be a tight game, opened up as McMaster’s running game took off, led by Chris Pezzetta and Joey Nemet.
Shane Kelly is unlikely to break the school’s single-season touchdown record (23). The Basking Ridge, NJ native sits at 20 with one game remaining.
Punt-returner Dillon Heap also will likely miss out on the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) record for all-time yards gained on the punt return. Heap is, however, one of only three players to pass the 2,000 yards mark in his career.
Kickoff in Guelph is at 1 p.m.