That’s more like it

Nathan Hawkes received a rude awakening after stepping back into the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks’ special teams lineup.

The returning kicker, back from a hamstring injury, stepped onto the field to punt the ball away for the first time this year in the first quarter of Laurier’s 51-16 win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees in front of a 100th anniversary homecoming crowd of 9, 262 on Saturday.

Hawkes took the snap, and the ball rocketed up past the punter’s outstretched mitts and hit Hawkes square in his masked mug.

The snap stunned the kicker, but Hawkes recovered just in time to grab the pigskin and rush with it.

Hawkes ran for six yards and got a first down for his efforts on what would have been a third down punt.

And that was largely how the afternoon went for the Golden Hawks.

Recovering from a loss in which Laurier got their defence back on track against the powerhouse Western Mustangs last week, the Hawks played their first squeaky-clean game since their first outing versus York in the first week of the season.

They picked the right time to get their swagger back. University Stadium was filled with purple and gold-clad Hawks’ supporters who unlike past years, stayed for the greater portion of the game due to the absence of rainy skies befitting past homecoming games.

Quarterback Shane Kelly completed 20 of 34 passes for 348 yards and continues to lead the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) in touchdowns with 16. He collected four today.

Shamawd Chambers showed his school why he’s the second-rated CFL draft pick entering the 2012 draft.

Chambers finished the game with eight carries for 201 yards (good for third all-time in Laurier’s single-game receiving record) and helped Kelly get his own touchdown of the game after a 29-yard hook-up between quarterback and receiver.

It was a momentous day for punt-returner Dillon Heap as the fifth-year etched his name into the Ontario University Athletics record books for all-time punt-returning yards with 1,946 gaining 74 this game.

The only gaffes the Hawks committed were a number of infractions in the first half that put them in the danger zone near their own goal line. Laurier had six penalties in the first half, setting them back a collective 45 yards. They finished with 11 penalties, including an objectionable conduct call on Chambers after one of his touchdown celebrations. Ottawa had 18 infractions.

The penalties wasted a good number of terrific first-half kicks by Hawkes who had an outstanding first game back punting 10 times for 362 yards, averaging 36.2 yards per punt.

Ottawa couldn’t muster any offence against a Hawks’ defence just getting its swagger back.

Chris Ackie recovered a fumble on the Gee-Gees’ goal line and Kelvin Muamba received his first touchdown pass as a Golden hawk on the resulting drive from backup quarterback Steven Fantham in the fourth quarter after Kelly left the game nursing an upper body ailment.

Kelly left the game under his own steam.

Kicker Ronnie Pfeffer left the game with what appeared to be an ankle injury, receiving a late hit from Ottawa’s rusher on a convert kick.

Mark Surya opened the scoring 6:43 into the game with a 22-yard touchdown pass.

Isaac Dell followed that up with a goal-line touchdown run-in to end the first quarter.

Chambers finished the afternoon with two touchdowns, and running-back Rashad La Touche caught an 18-yard pass from Kelly with no time left in the third quarter.

Hawkes converted a 25-yard field goal.

Bogdon Raic and Brendan Gillanders scored touchdowns for the Gee-Gees while Matt Falvo scored a 29-yard field goal.

The Hawks improve to 2-3 on the year and sit tied for sixth in the OUA with Toronto. The Gee-Gees fall to 3-2.

Laurier next plays the Waterloo Warriors this Thursday at 7 p.m. at the University of Waterloo.