Photo by: Thomas Kolodziej
In a showdown between a pair of 2-1 football teams, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks made a statement in their annual Homecoming game as they defeated the Carleton Ravens 53-3 on Saturday at University Stadium.
Meeting for the first time since Laurier Homecoming in 1970, a game that was also won by the Hawks, the purple and gold put on a show for their fans as they racked up 521 yards of offence to move to 3-1 on the season.
"You're never quite sure coming off a bye week [how your team will react]," commented head coach Michael Faulds after the victory. "We tried to keep our schedule as close to normal as we could and our guys came out and played. Offence, defence, special teams all played really well."
Leading the way once again for the Hawks was running back Dillon Campbell of Whitby, O nt. The leading rusher in the CIS added another 176 yards and three touchdowns to his season totals, brining him 850 yards and eight touchdowns through four games in 2014.
Quarterback James Fracas of Waterloo, Ont., had another efficient day as he completed 14-of-19 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns, two of which were to receiver Anthony Pizzuti of Hamilton. Pizzuti finished the afternoon with 51 yards on four catches.
"We're a really balanced offence," added Faulds. "Everyone knows our headliner is Dillon Campbell, but Fracas is doing such a great job, he still hasn't thrown an interception on the year, [and] he's spreading the ball around. You saw Marcus [Arkarakas] had some catches, Pizutti had some catches, he's doing a really good job being the facilitator. "
For the second straight game, Laurier's defence also shone as they held the Ravens to just three points on the afternoon. Defensive back Chris Ackie of Cambridge, Ont., anchored the strong defensive effort by recording 5.5 tackles.
"We're just more focused," said Ackie on how the Hawks have now allowed just three points in the last two games. "We had a big win Week 1 against U of T, against Windsor we came in too light, so now we really buckled down, stayed focus and did what we needed to do today."
Featured in the OUA's Marquee Matchup for the second time this season, the Hawks came flying out of the gate, albeit with a little luck on their side. After their opening drive was stalled on Carleton's 34-yard line, a botched snap on the field goal attempt ended up in the hands of Ronnie Pfeffer of Kitchener, Ont. The fourth year kicker scrambled 32 yards for the first down, setting up a 2-yard touchdown run from Campbell to stake Laurier to a 7-0 lead.
After a Pfeffer field goal gave the Hawks a 10-0 lead through the opening quarter, Laurier's offence ex ploded in the second quarter. Campbell opened the frame with his second touchdown run of the game, followed by an 8-yard touchdown from Pizzuti on the purple and gold's next possession.
Before the quarter was out, Pizzuti had his second touchdown of the day, this time a 5-yard catch and Pfeffer added his second field goal of the afternoon to stake the Hawks to a 34-0 halftime advantage.
The third quarter was more of the same from the offence as Marcus Arkarakas of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Campbell each added a major, extending the lead to 48-0.
From there, Faulds removed his starters from the game and Laurier cruised to their fifth all-time victory over Carleton.
"It felt amazing," said Pizzuti on the win in front of the Homecoming crowd. "We had thousands of fans coming out and it felt good to make a stance, really, for the OUA and for our fans. It's not just for us, we love them coming out and supporting us."
The lone bright spot on the day for the Ravens was the play of linebacker Leon Cerenini of La Salle, Man., who had 12.5 tackles to lead all players.
The victory moved Laurier into a tie with the Guelph Gryphons for fourth place in the OUA. As for the Ravens, they fall to 2-2 on the year, seventh in the conference.
Up next for the Hawks, they will wrap up a three-game homestand when they host the York Lions (0-5) on Saturday, October 4. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at University Stadium.
NOTES: Pfeffer's 15-point effort on the afternoon moved him into third place on Laurier's all-time scoring list with 227 career points…Campbell's 850 yards rushing so far in 2014 is just 17 yards behind his total of 867 from 2013 when he led the conference…Fracas continued his incredible season that sees him leading the OUA in completion percentage at 72.5 while throwing nine touchdowns and zero interceptions, the best ratio in the conference…the Hawks are now 5-2-1 against the Ravens, with the seven previous meetings coming between 1963 and 1970…attendance at the game was 7,370