In arguably their most important game of the season to date, Laurier’s football Golden Hawks kept the No. 10 Guelph Gryphons out of the endzone on the way to a 36-2 victory.
In front of a crowd of 7,396 for Laurier’s 100th Homecoming event, and sporting throwback uniforms from Laurier’s 1972 championship season, the Hawks got the ball rolling early, scoring on their first four drives of the game.
In a game that was anticipated to be a defensive battle with few points scored, Laurier quarterback Evan Pawliuk gave the Hawks an early advantage completing a five-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Heap despite a botched snap.
On the Hawks’ next two drives, kicker Nathan Hawkes converted field goals from 32 and 35 yards, respectively, to put Laurier up 13-0.
Pawliuk put up more points just before the quarter ended, scampering in from four yards to shock the Guelph defense and put Laurier up 20-0 after just the first fifteen minutes.
Pawliuk’s success continued into the second quarter, when he tossed an eight-yard touchdown pass again to Heap to increase the lead even further.
The Hawks’ defense, led by Mitchell Bosch and Daniel Bishop, continued to pound the Gryphons offense, holding the team to just one first down through the entire first half.
Before the half was out, however, Anton Bennett ensured that Laurier wouldn’t suffer a second-half meltdown as was seen in the McMaster game, putting them up 34-0 as he ran into the endzone from 18 yards.
Laurier kept their strong defensive play up in the second half, holding Guelph out of the endzone and limiting any chances that the visitors had.
Both teams conceded safeties in the fourth quarter, and Laurier easily held on to pick up the big 36-2 victory in front of the homecoming crowd.
Laurier head coach Gary Jeffries was very happy with his team’s effort in the game.
“That was definitely our best effort,” Jeffries says. “We played for every Hawk that ever played here and we did it for them today.”
The road ahead gets no easier for the Hawks, however, as next week they travel to Ottawa to face the Gee-Gees, who were ranked second in the nation going into play last weekend. Laurier then returns home to face the defending Yates Cup champions as Queen’s will travel to Waterloo.
Laurier is also still waiting to hear OUA’s decision on the eligibility of defensive end Dave Montoya, which could cause Laurier to forfeit their first win over Toronto, allowing the Varsity Blues to leapfrog the Hawks in the standings. A decision is expected this week.