BURLINGTON, Ont. – Expect to see some high-octane offence in Week 2 as the Laurier Golden Hawks (1-0) head to Alumni Stadium in Guelph, Ont. to take on the sixth-ranked Guelph Gryphons (1-0) Labour Day Monday at 1:00pm.
Still with the sour taste of last year’s Yates Cup loss to McMaster in their mouths, the Gryphons stormed Warrior Field in Waterloo, Ont. on Sunday night, defeating the hometown Warriors 78-7.
Quarterback James Roberts completed 15-22 attempts, throwing for 325 yards and three touchdowns in the victory, while on the ground running back Johnny Augustine churned up the Waterloo defence for 149 yards and three touchdowns as well.
The Gryphons have arguably one of the best 1-2 receiving punches in the country in A’Dre Fraser and Jacob Scarfone. The dynamic duo showed just how dangerous they can be on Sunday night as the pair hauled in 12 catches for 315 yards and four touchdowns.
After finishing 1-7 in 2013, the Laurier Golden Hawks returned to the playoffs once again last season and if all goes as planned, head coach Michael Faulds and the Hawks expect to be playing into early November this season.
Laurier running back Dillon Campbell gave defensive coordinators nightmares last year, as he ran wild, amassing 1,458 rushing yards to lead the nation – 471 yards more than CIS second-leading rusher Chris Reid of Mount Allison.
Campbell appeared in all eight of Laurier’s regular season contests last season, and ran for 100+ yards in every game, in addition to hitting the 200 yard mark three times (including a school record 293 yards in a game against Toronto), and led OUA and CIS with 13 touchdowns and 182.2 yards per game.
If Week 1 against the York Lions was any indication, Campbell shows no signs of slowing down. Once again, Campbell eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the 10th straight game, finishing the contest with 116 yards on 20 carries. It also marked the 15th time in the last 16 games that he has reached the century mark on the ground.
An injury late in training camp to last season’s starting quarterback James Fracas saw Eric Morelli get the start under centre for Laurier and the young pivot did not disappoint, completing 19-28 attempts for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Morelli’s favourite target on the day was Greg Nyhof who hauled in six passes for 60 yards and one touchdown, but the new starter spread the ball around evenly, completing passes to seven receivers on the day including touchdown passes to Zeph Fraser and Marcus Arkarakas. Morelli also found his own way into the endzone, scampering 27 yards for a score while running the ball five times for 39 yards.
“[Morelli] really managed the game well,” said head coach Michael Faulds after the win. “He went about his reads. You could tell in Saskatchewan he was uneasy, he wasn’t going through his progression properly. He went through the progressions absolutely perfect every time [today]. He really spread the ball around too so they couldn’t key on one guy.”
It will be a grittier Week 2 for Laurier and Guelph after their season openers, with the winner of this matchup receiving a major momentum boost to start the season. The last time these two teams met, Laurier was looking to stamp their own ticket to playoffs, but was outlasted by the Gryphons 41-36 on Oct. 25.
After a dismal first half which saw the Gryphons go up 36-4, the Golden Hawks pulled it together to rattle off 18-straight third quarter points and come within 14. Led by a possessed Dillon Campbell who rushed for 203 yards and two scores, Laurier was able to cut the lead down to five, but failed to complete the comeback. Laurier still managed to sneak into playoffs thanks to a Carleton loss, but was bounced in a first-round loss to Western.
The running game will be something to keep an eye on during this year’s matchup, as both teams have dominated on the ground so far.
Guelph’s Johnny Augustine made it clear that this will be his year, already matching his touchdown total from last season in a dominant performance which saw him average just over 10 yards a carry. On the special teams front, first-team all-star returner Ryan Nieuwesteeg is back to work, returning nine punts for a stellar 164 yards, including a 79 yard score.
On the other sideline Dillon Campbell will look to continue his All-Canadian level of performance after a historic season last year. His 1458 rushing yards last year were the third-most in OUA history, sitting only behind Jesse Lumsden’s incredible 2003 and 2004 seasons. Quarterback Eric Morelli has also shown the ability to move the ball with his feet, making good decisions on when to run and averaging almost eight yards a carry.
Catch all the action live on Monday on OUA.tv and locally in Guelph on Rogers Cable 20.
Marquee Matchup by the Numbers
116 – Combined points from Guelph and Laurier in their Week 1 games against Waterloo and York.
1186 – Combined offensive yards from Guelph and Laurier after Week 1.
11.6 – Average yards gained by Guelph per play on Sunday.
201 – Receiving yards from Guelph’s Jacob Scarfone last week, in addition to two touchdowns.
8 – Touchdowns thrown by Guelph quarterback James Roberts and Laurier quarterback Eric Morelli during Week 1
203 – Rushing yards for Dillon Campbell against Guelph during their matchup last year. Campbell also tacked on two TD’s during the game.