Warriors defeat Golden Hawks 36-12 in the Battle of Waterloo’s return
In a highly anticipated week two matchup between two of the top eight teams in the country, the Laurier Golden Hawks got behind early and were never able to spark a comeback, as they were defeated 36-12 by the Waterloo Warriors on Saturday.
Laurier and the Golden Hawks football team hosted their annual homecoming matchup in front of 900 fans during a windy and rainy day at University Stadium. Their first homecoming game since 2019 and the return of the “Battle of Waterloo,” a heated competition between the two schools separated by one street in one city.
The teams re-ignited their rivalry on Saturday in a far different game from their last matchup in 2019. A memorable matchup that saw a combined 103 points and 12 touchdowns, while taking three overtimes to decide a winner. The Golden Hawks came out on top that night – 53-50 – after Laurier quarterback, Connor Carusello found Brentyn Hall in the endzone to win the battle.
Today however was much different. After 36 points in week one, Laurier struggled to move the ball offensively all game. Scoring only 12 points and making several mistakes, the Golden Hawks gifted Waterloo easy scoring opportunities. Laurier found themselves down early in the first quarter and quickly by a large margin come the second.
“We came out very slowly. Offensively we were not able to move the ball,” Coach Michael Faulds said.
On the first play of the afternoon, the Warriors picked up 21 yards on a rush by veteran running back, Brandon Metz. Two plays later, dynamic quarterback and MVP front-runner Tre Ford was able to connect with James Basalyga for a 76-yard touchdown, less than two minutes into the game.
“I think we dug ourselves a really big hole, which you don’t want to do against a good football team like that,” Faulds continued.
Laurier was able to get on the scoreboard with a field goal by Dawson Hodge in the first quarter but was unable to stop the star quarterback and offense on the next drive. Early in the second, the Warriors and Ford connecting on their second touchdown pass of the game to extend their lead.
“Tre Ford made some great plays on the ground and through the air,” coach Faulds said.
Ford stepped onto the scene after defeating the Golden Hawks 34-32 in a surprising victory back in 2018 – Waterloo’s first win over Laurier since 2002. Ford threw for 182 yards and ran for another 110 today, combining for three total touchdowns and proving to be a problem all day for Laurier, as he was in 2018.
“It wasn’t great weather,” Faulds mentioned in his post-game interview. While not an excuse, Faulds was certainly right about that. The skies opened in the second quarter, causing heavy rainfall and continuing into the third, altering both the passing and special teams play of each team.
After a blocked punt in the second quarter, the Warriors were able to gain all the momentum with their third touchdown of the game after capitalizing on a short field. The Golden Hawks headed into the halftime break trailing 27-10.
While showing a fight in the second half, the Golden Hawks were not able to consistently put drives together. Penalties and turnovers lagged the Hawks, as quarterback, Taylor Elgersma threw interceptions on three consecutive possessions in the third quarter.
“You never want to turn the ball over. That’s a recipe to lose football,” Coach Faulds said.
Given the injury to Carusello, Elgersma was facing great pressure and an extremely wet football, during his first career OUA start. While struggling in the game – throwing four interceptions and scoring only one touchdown – Elgersma showed his confidence and competitiveness much to the liking of his coach.
“It wasn’t solely on him. I’m happy how he continued to battle throughout the game,” Faulds said.
Pointing to various mistakes made by the entire offense and not just Elgersma. Running back, Tanner Nelmes had only 28 yards after over 100 last week, while veteran receiver, Ente Eguavoen recorded only five yards on one catch after seven receptions for 112 yards against York.
Laurier’s offense will be a key area for Faulds and his staff to look at this week. The Golden Hawks had only seven first downs and 94 total yards against the Warriors on Saturday, averaging less than four yards per play.
Waterloo will begin their season 2-0 and could see a rise in the national rankings this upcoming week. Coach Bertoia and the Warriors made a statement with their 36-12 win, picking up just their second victory over Laurier in the past 19 years. Both coming in the past three seasons, as the currently ranked fifth program in the country aims for a title this season, after a long rebuild.
Laurier will drop to 1-1 in the six-game shortened OUA season and will face their two toughest tests in the next two weeks. Coach Faulds and the Golden Hawks will travel to London next weekend to play the top team in Canada and another fierce rival in the Western Mustangs, before travelling to Hamilton to face McMaster in week four.
“I told the guys it’s a short season, we only have six games. We got to pick ourselves up and we got to show up to work tomorrow,” Faulds said.
“We got to continue to grow… we have to improve every single week and that’s what our intent is,” he continued.
After two games at home, Laurier will hit the road next weekend, looking to get back in the winning column against the Mustangs in London. The game is set to kickoff at 1:00 PM EST this Saturday and can be watched on OUA.tv.