Laurier hosts Western in home opener Saturday night

BruceBell_WLUAthletics
Photo: Bruce Bell

Jamie Howieson
Laurier Athletics

Game Date/Time: Saturday, September 12, 2015 – 7:30 p.m.
Game Location: University Stadium, Knight-Newbrough Field, Waterloo
Live Webcast/Stats: OUA.tv
Audiocast: RadioLaurier.com
Tickets: tickets.laurierathletics.com

THE SKINNY

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (1-1) host the No. 3 Western Mustangs (2-0) for their 2015 home opener. The contest is also a rematch of last year’s OUA Quarter-final game won by Western.

FAN PROMOTIONS
– Laurier Students are able to purchase tickets to both the home opener and the Homecoming game in two weeks time with the Rivalry Pack ticket option on tickets.laurierathletics.com
– First year Laurier Students get into the game for free if they are wearing their t-shirt or wristband as a part of Orientation Week activities. Residence Dons can also attend for free with valid ID card or t-shirt.
– The first 1,500 fans will receive a Rally Towel

NEED TO KNOW

– Laurier will be out to avenge last season’s playoff loss on the road in London. The Golden Hawks led that game for much of the contest before Western took the lead and pulled away late to advance.
– This will be the second consecutive week that the Golden Hawks face a Top 10 team in the country after the purple and gold battled the Guelph Gryphons on Labour Day Monday
– The Hawks have just one victory in their last five home openers, that coming last season when they shutout the Waterloo Warriors 44-0
– Western has won their last four games at University Stadium, with their last appearance coming in September of 2013 when they rallied to defeat the Hawks 45-24

ALL-TIME SERIES

The Mustangs lead the all-time series with a 46-21-0 record in matchups that date back to 1967. Laurier has not beaten Western in their last 10 meetings, with their last win coming on Nov. 4, 2006 in the OUA Semifinals.

MEET THE TEAMS
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (1-1)

Laurier finds themselves stuck in a log-jam of teams in the OUA with one victory after two weeks. The purple and gold are currently one of six teams in the conference that have two points this season and will be looking for an upset today to distinguish themselves from the pack.

Last week, the Golden Hawks had a chance to rally in the second half against the then-sixth ranked Guelph Gryphons but came up short in the fourth quarter, falling 30-19.

Laurier was led by their defence in the contest as the Hawks and defensive coordinator Ron VanMoerkerke found a way to limit a very good Guelph team to just two touchdowns. Malcolm Thompson of Windsor, Ont., Nakas Onyeka of Brampton, Ont., and Ronald Kinga of Guelph, Ont., continued their strong starts to 2015 as they were the top three tacklers against the Gryphons. Both Onyeka and Kinga also had forced fumbles and fumble recoveries in the contest.

On offence, quarterback James Fracas of Waterloo, Ont., returned under centre for Laurier and after a slow start, finished the game 32-for-46 for 318 yards. He is expected to get the start once again for the Hawks. Dillon Campbellof Whitby, Ont., and Carson Ouellette of Windsor, Ont., were two of the Hawks more dangerous players as Campbell had 171 all-purpose yards, including 104 yards receiving, while Ouellette had eight catches for 82 yards.

Western Mustangs (2-0) – No. 3 in Canada

The Mustangs roll into Waterloo this week coming off of two blowout wins over the Windsor Lancers in Week 1 and the York Lions in Week 2. The Mustangs were never tested in either game as they are averaging 75.0 points per game while holding their opponents to just 8.5 points per game.

As is usually the case, Western has been using their ground game to wear down opponents. So far this season, four Mustangs have over 100 yards rushing, led by 238 yards from Alex Taylor of Winnipeg, Man. Taylor also has three rushing touchdowns this season.

Expected to start at quarterback for Western will be Will Finch of Burlington, Ont. The Hawks have not faced Finch since 2013 after he missed both meetings with Laurier last season due to a concussion. This season, Finch has been very good completing 81 percent of his passes for 530 yards and five touchdowns.

Defensively, third year defensive back Jesse McNair of London, Ont., is the Mustangs leading tackler with 14 total tackles in 2015. Both Malcolm Brown of London, Ont., and Josh Woodman of Chatham, Ont., have recorded two interceptions so far this season.

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