UPDATED: Golden Hawks earn bye in record breaking game

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Photo by Garrison Oosterhof

 

With school and national records on the line and a first-round bye in reach, the Golden Hawks had –arguably – their best performance of the season. 

The game would start out with both teams going two-and-out multiple times, playing well on defense.  

The downfall for both squads? Penalties, and more penalties. 

On Laurier’s third possession, there were four straight plays that penalties were called on – for both teams.  

The fourth play would be where the game would break open; the penalty on the fourth play was a defensive pass interference on McMaster on a 39-yard catch by Brentyn Hall. 

After tying it in the first half to go along with a forced fumble – which was followed by a field goal – Smith broke the record in the fourth quarter, pulling McMaster quarterback Jackson White down by the hand.  

A couple of plays later, Tristan Arndt, making his first start in place of an injured Michael Knevel, would connect with Kurleigh Gittens Jr. on a 27-yard touchdown pass. 

With the exception of a 98-yard touchdown by Dan Petermann of McMaster, Laurier never looked back.  

Following his second touchdown pass to Mario Villamizar, Arndt would go on a 53-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, pushing it to 21-7. Following that would be a field goal by Nathan Mesher; the half ended with a score of 24-7. 

“[We have] Unbelievable confidence [in him] and that’s why we recruited Tristan out of London,” head coach Michael Faulds said. 

“He was very calm out there and we’ve groomed him for a couple of years. Sure enough he played amazingly.” 

The second half was a story of its own, and certainly not in the form of a momentum change. 

Laurier would increase its lead, first with a 25-yard touchdown run by Eli Fera on a play where McMaster’s defense thought he was down but wasn’t. Following that was a safety, as the Marauders kneeled after a Trevaughan James sack deep in the their zone. 

Pushing the score to 40-7 would be Arndt with his third touchdown pass going to Daniel Bennett on a strong effort for a 24-yard touchdown. Arndt would finish the game going 18-23, 213 yards, three touchdown passes as well as 65 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. 

“It felt good. Took a little bit to settle in there but once I kind of got into a rhythm there it was really good, we played well as a team and obviously the win’s huge to get that bye,” Arndt said about his performance. 

The other story of the second half would turn out to be fallen records.  

Kurleigh Gittens Jr. broke the Laurier single-season record for yards in a season in the third quarter on his sixth catch of the game – finishing with 953 yards on the season, with the previous record being 916.  

He also went on to break the U Sports single-season record for receptions in the fourth quarter on his tenth catch of the game – finishing with 75, the previous record being 74. 

“It’s an honour, but our first goal was just to get the win and that’s what we got,” Gittens Jr. said of his record breaking performace, shifting focus onto the task at hand. 

“Honestly, I’m overwhelmed right now. It’s a great feeling.” 

Next up was Robbie Smith, as he would tie and then break the Laurier single-season record for sacks in a season with 10.5.  

After tying it in the first half to go along with a forced fumble – which was followed by a field goal – Smith broke the record in the fourth quarter, pulling McMaster quarterback Jackson White down by the hand.  

“I just went out there and played. It’s definitely a good thing, but it’s not something I was dying to get – but it’s nice to have,” Smith said. 

When asked if the record was in mind, he went on to clarify.  

“Unfortunately, it was. They told us two days before – with one game left – that I was one away and I was like “Holy, that’s a lot of expectations on me,”” he said. 

“I guess it turned out pretty good so I can’t really say anything [more] about that.” 

With the final score being 40-15, after McMaster scored in the last 1:20 of the game, Laurier would go on to secure a first-round bye and move into second place in the OUA. 

“Massive win,” coach Faulds said. “This is the first time both o[ffence] and d[efence] came together, and both played well in the same week.”  

“This just proves what we can do if we do that.” 

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