WATERLOO, Ont. (September 21, 2013) - The Wilfrid Laurier University men's football team put a scare into the No. 2 Western Mustangs on Saturday afternoon but ultimately fell by a score of 45-24 at University Stadium.
The Golden Hawks (1-4) held the Mustangs scoreless in the first quarter and took a 17-12 lead into halftime. However, Western (5-0) found their groove in the second half and thanks to a big third quarter came away with the victory.
"A loss is tough, especially when you felt like you had it in your grasp," commented Head Coach Michael Fauldsfollowing the game. "I told our guys to be disappointed at the loss, but look at the positives too. They're the No. 2 team in the country and we fought toe-to-toe with them for four quarters."
Western quarterback Will Finch of Burlington, Ont., put the Mustangs on his back in the second half and finished the game 26-for-36 for 423 yards and two touchdowns. His favourite target on the afternoon was Brian Marshall of London, Ont., who had seven catches for 209 yards.
Despite the big game from Finch, Laurier's defence was a storyline on the afternoon. The Hawks shut down the Mustangs running game, which was averaging over 270 yards per game, and held them to 171. Laurier also picked off Finch twice on the day and sacked the Western quarterback four times, including three by defensive lineman Tommy Griffiths of Richmond Hill, Ont.
"The whole week we talked about it being a fight and we had to come out hard," said defensive back Felix Odum of Pickering, Ont., on his team's defensive effort. "They're a good team and a good offence and a lot of teams cave when they take the lead but we didn't. We're a young team, we took some penalties, but overall it was a good learning experience and the things we learned we can take into Homecoming next weekend."
In what was a dream start for the Hawks as Laurier took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a 35-yard field goal from Ronnie Pfeffer of Kitchener, Ont., and a one-yard touchdown plunge from quarterback James Fracas of Waterloo, Ont.
After the Mustangs pulled to within five thanks to a safety and a field goal, running back Dillon Campbell of Whitby, Ont., took centre stage. On a wonderfully designed play, Campbell took a handoff at his own five-yard line and burst through the Mustangs defence. One hundred yards later, he found the endzone and etched his name into the record books. The 100 yard score was the second longest in team history, trailing only a 103 yard run by Mike Montoya in 2007.
With a 17-12 lead going into the second half, the Hawks appeared poised for a huge upset. However, Western regrouped and proceeded to put up 17 points in the third quarter highlighted by Finch touchdown passes to Adam Sinclair of London, Ont., and Justin Sanvido of Vancouver, B.C.
Laurier would hang tough in the fourth quarter as Campbell found the endzone for a second time but two late touchdowns by Yannick Harou of Gatineau, Que., helped the Mustangs stay unbeaten.
"When I shake hands with coaches at the end of the game, I want to be known as a tough team thats gonna play for four quarters," added Faulds on his teams overall effort. "And shaking hands with the Western coaches, they thought we had a tough team, a hard-fought team, and we're going to improve a lot."
Campbell would once again lead Laurier's offensive output as he put together his third-consecutive 100 yard rushing game, finishing the contest with 155 yards on 15 carries. Fracas, in his second career start, was 14-for-24 with 212 yards and two interceptions.
With confidence behind them after holding the No. 2 team in the country to their lowest offensive output of the season, the Hawks will now prepare for their annual Homecoming game as they welcome the Windsor Lancers to University Stadium next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
NOTES: Thomas Majka of Mississauga, Ont., and Chris Ackie of Cambridge, Ont., had big afternoons on defence for Laurier...Majka finished with 9.5 tackles while Ackie had 8.5 tackles and the Hawks other sack...kick returner William Pitt-Doe of Mississauga, Ont., had 135 return yards on the day and now trails Dillon Heap by just 49 yards for Laurier's single season kick return record...attendance at University Stadium was 821
Source: Laurier Sports Info