A late field goal gave Laurier their first lead of the day, but it was the only one they needed as they held on to beat Carleton 17-16.
Their win over the fourth ranked team in the country gave the Golden Hawks their first 3-0 start since 2007. The defence continued to shine, scoring their third defensive touchdown of the season.
The game turned around when the offence began moving the chains in the second half, when Brantford’s own Michael Knevel took over at Quarterback.
On his fourth drive, Knevel helped the offence go on a 10 play 90-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown to reduce the Ravens lead to 16-14 in the final minute of the third. The drive included a couple of big plays from both Knevel and Running Back Eric Guiltinan. Guiltinan extended the drive with a 36-yard run on third down which brought Laurier down to the one-yard line. Darian Waite ran in from there, for his first touchdown of his career.
Although the offence struggled, the defence did everything they possibly could to keep the game close. With the Golden Hawks down two, safety Taylor Calverley made his second interception of the day. Earlier in the game, Calverley kept Carleton off the board with an interception in the end zone.
Another strong player on the defence was linebacker Scott Hutter. Hutter recovered a fumble that was forced by Kwaku Boateng. He landed on the loose ball on the Ravens 10 which set up Laurier in great field position. A Nathan Mesher field goal is all the Golden Hawks could manage, but the 17-16 lead was all the defence needed over the final six minutes as they held Carleton off the board.
A key stop on third down with Nakas Onyeka and Malcolm Thompsom combined for the tackle at Laurier’s 51 to give the offence the ball back. A fumble in the final two minutes by Guiltinan after a 50-yard run was almost costly, but Stu Smith recovered, allowing Laurier to run the rest of the clock out and get the win.
On offence, Guiltinan was a force in the second half, finishing with 200 yards on 23 carries, which was a career high for him. Laurier needs each and every one of those yards with Knevel finishing 4-8 for 40 yards.
Knevel came in as quarterback after half-time to help inspire a Laurier offence that was stalling under starter Julien John. At the end of the first half, the score was tied at 7, but Laurier’s points were the result of Hutter’s interception return.
The offence was moving nowhere with John only completing two of his nine throws for six yards with an interception. The limited passing game meant that Carleton could focus on Guiltinan. Guiltinan was limited to 33 yards on six carries with 18 coming on one run.
The Golden Hawks were lucky to still be in the game after being outgained 208 yards to 45 in the first half. Laurier also only managed two first downs compared to 12 for Carleton.
It will be interesting to see who gets the start at Quarterback next weekend for the homecoming game against Waterloo. Waterloo has the worst offence (seven points per game) and defence (58 points per game allowed) in the OUA, so a blowout should be expected regardless of who starts.