Marquee Matchup: Big plays from Mustangs ultimately ground Laurier in hard-fought season opener

Photo by Western Mustangs
Photo by Western Mustangs

Waterloo, Ont. (via Laurier Golden Hawks) – Like they did to end the 2018 regular season, the Western Mustangs and Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks went head-to-head to open up the 2019 campaign. The host Hawks hung tough with the defending Yates Cup champions in this season opener on Sunday afternoon, but eventually, it was the visiting Mustangs who prevailed by a 32-19 final at University Stadium.

Despite the Hawks putting up 442 yards of offence compared to just 288 for the Mustangs, it was Western’s big-play ability that proved to be the difference on the afternoon.

Western starting quarterback Chris Merchant of Calgary, connected on a pair of long touchdowns – 62 yards to Justin Nickson of London, Ont., and 36 yards to Savaughn Magnaye-Jones of Hamilton – while the Mustangs’ special teams got a touchdown from Brett Ellerman of Calgary, on a blocked punt to help stake the visitors to a 22-6 edge.

Laurier would get back into the game thanks to their defence, which recorded five sacks on the day, including 2.5 from Alfred Green of Waterloo, Ont., and the arm of quarterback Connor Carusello of Caledonia, Ont. Carusello hit Brentyn Hall of Toronto, for a 71-yard major to cut Western’s advantage to nine late in the third quarter.

However, the Mustangs put the game out of reach midway through the fourth quarter thanks to a touchdown from running back Trey Humes of Ajax, Ont., who punched in a two-yard major to put the team’s lead out of reach.

Brendan McCracken of Kitchener, Ont., added a touchdown late in the game for Laurier to round out the scoring, but it was too little too late for the Hawks.

With the victory, the Mustangs extend their winning streak to four games over the purple and gold since Laurier’s Yates Cup victory in 2016.

Laurier

  • Carusello completed a career-high 36 passes, the second most in school history, on 48 attempts and finished the game with 360 yards and two touchdowns 
  • Hall had a game-high 132 receiving yards on seven catches to go along with his touchdown
  • Linebacker Tommy Bringi of London, Ont., had a game-best nine tackles against his hometown team

Western

  • Merchant completed 15-of-24 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, along with a team-high 35 yards rushing
  • Defensive lineman Andrew Thurston of London, Ont., had 5.5 tackles, once sack and two tackles for a loss to lead the Mustangs’ defensive effort 
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