Posted: Sep 03, 2013
WATERLOO, Ont. (September 2, 2013) Despite scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half, the Wilfrid Laurier University men's football team could not overcome the Toronto Varsity Blues in their home opener on Monday night as they lost 27-20 at Knight-Newbrough Field.
After falling behind 27-3 late in the third quarter, Golden Hawks quarterback Julien John of Oakville, Ont., and kicker Ronnie Pfeffer of Kitchener, Ont., helped pull the Hawks to within seven points. However, a last-minute drive fell just short and the Hawks fell to 0-2 to start the season.
"We made enough plays to win the game," commented head coach Michael Faulds after the loss. "We had a few missed plays here and there and a few mental errors, and the message to the guys at the end is that you can't have your heads down. We showed in the second half the team we can be and we need to do that for four quarters."
Toronto quarterback Chris Jugovic of Hamilton, who finished the game with 259 yards passing, helped the Varsity Blues build an early lead in the contest. Jugovic connected with Paul de Pass of Ajax, Ont., before setting up a little trickery in the second quarter that ended with Aaron Milton of Whitby, Ont., hitting Alex Pierzchalski of London, Ont., in the endzone to stake Toronto to a 17-3 half time lead.
The Varsity Blues continued to control play early in the second half, tacking on another 10 points, before the Hawks found their legs on offence. Facing a third down and four yards to go, John went over the middle to Greg Nyhof of Georgetown, Ont., for a 35 yard major to get the Hawks on the board. The touchdown pass and catch were the first of their careers for John and Nyhof respectively.
On their next possession, John capped a five play, 102-yard drive that was finished off by a 38-yard strike to Anthony Pizzuti of Hamilton, and got the 3,920 fans on their feet.
Down by 10, the purple and gold cut the lead to seven when Pfeffer connected on a career-long 45-yard field goal with just under nine minutes to play.
After trading possessions, the Hawks got the ball back with just over a minute to play. Facing a third and 20, from Torontos 54, John's pass just fell incomplete, ending the comeback and giving Toronto (1-1) the victory.
John, making his second career start, finished the game with 345 yards passing and two touchdowns, making him the first Laurier quarterback since Shane Kelly on October 6, 2011 against Waterloo to throw for more than 300 yards in a game. Nyhof finished the game with 113 yards and a touchdown while Pizzuti added 95 yards and a touchdown.
"I think in the second half we got a little bit more comfortable as a team," said John on the comeback effort. "The more experience we get, the more this offence is going to progress."
As for the Varsity Blues, Pierzchalski led Toronto with 72 yards and two touchdowns while Llevi Noel of Toronto, had 101 yards on four catches.
Up next for the Hawks, they head to Toronto to face the York Lions (0-1) on Saturday, September 7. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at York Stadium.
NOTES: Pizzuti's fourth quarter touchdown was his first as a Hawk and first in the OUA after joining Laurier from the Waterloo Warriors...rookie safety Taylor Calverley of Kettleby, Ont., once again led the Hawks in tackles, recording 6.5 to give him 16 on the season...Laurier has now lost their last three games to the Varsity Blues dating back to the 2010 season