Campbell, a native of Whitby, Ont., set the record in style with a 29-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave him 3,069 yards for his career, surpassing Andy Cecchini’s school record of 3,061 yards that had stood since 1991. He would wind up finishing the day with 241 yards and three touchdowns, the second-highest single game rushing total of his career, and fourth-highest all-time at Laurier.
“It’s a very humbling experience,” said Campbell on surpassing a number of Laurier greats on his way to the career rushing record. “Working at the AC [Athletic Complex] and always being in the Hawk Lounge, and just seeing all those names on that wall and kind of striving to be in the conversation with those names, it’s humbling.”
“I’m super pumped for him,” added head coach Michael Faulds on his star running back. “Everyone I think knows Dillon hasn’t been 100 percent all year but he’s an absolute warrior out there. He’s battling with injury and running extremely hard. Teams know we’re running with him but he’s putting up great yardage.”
With a driving wind greeting the teams at kickoff, the Hawks came into the game with a plan to establish the run early and often. Twenty of the Hawks first 23 offensive plays were on the ground, with Campbell taking 18 handoffs in the opening quarter. He made the most of those 18 rushing attempts as he posted an impressive 148 yards and two touchdowns in the opening quarter to give the Hawks a 14-0 lead.
On the defensive side of the ball, Laurier gave their rivals no options, either through the air or on the ground. The Hawks held the Warriors to just six first downs in the opening half and scored a touchdown of their own as Tanner Philp of Burlington, Ont., recovered a fumble forced by Brandon Calver of London, Ont., and returned it 11 yards, giving the purple and gold a 23-0 lead after two quarters.
In the third quarter, Laurier continued to pound the ball on the ground, led by Campbell. He would close out his afternoon by capping off an 11-play, 79-yard drive with his third touchdown of the afternoon early in the third. That score gives him 24 touchdowns for his career, tying him Bryon Hickey and Andy Baechler for fourth all-time in team history.
From there, a quartet of backs, including Darian Waite of Newmarket, Ont., Osayi Iginuan of Hamilton, Tre Nicholsonof Kitchener, Ont., and Levondre Gordon of Mississauga, Ont., would close out the contest by combining to rush for an additional 148 yards, giving Laurier 395 yards rushing on the afternoon.
“We got five backs in there in total which was good for us to see,” commented Faulds on the Hawks rushing attack. “All five did a phenomenal job. Credit to our offensive line, they did a great job too, and it didn’t matter who was carrying the ball behind them, they all rushed well.”
In total, the Hawks would put up 473 yards of offence to just 98 for the Warriors.
Quarterback Eric Morelli of Burlington, Ont., spent the majority of the game orchestrating the offence after starterJames Fracas of Waterloo, Ont., was knocked out of the game in the first quarter. Morelli finished the day 6-for-17 for 72 yards and a touchdown.
His counterpart, Lucas McConnell of Waterford, Ont., was under pressure all afternoon by a stout Laurier defence and completed just seven of 32 passing attempts for 76 yards. He also tossed one interception as fourth year Laurier defensive back Ben Millar of Campbellville, Ont., picked him off in the endzone in the fourth quarter to preserve the shutout for the purple and gold.
The victory was crucial for the Hawks as they keep themselves firmly in the race for the playoffs. Following a wild Saturday around the OUA, Laurier sits in a three-way tie for the sixth and final playoff spot as their 2-3 record matches them with the Toronto Varsity Blues and the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
“I told the guys enjoy this for the next 20 minutes and then we’re moving on to Ottawa,” said Faulds on the win. “We can’t get too excited, obviously it’s good to get a little bit of momentum, but since we’re playing next Friday at home, it’s a shorter week and we need to be ready for an important game.”
Laurier will face the aforementioned Gee-Gees on Friday, October 9 on Staff and Faculty Appreciation Day. All WLUSA and WLUFA members, as well as members of the Management group, receive two free tickets to the game that can be picked up with valid ID at either the Hawk Desk in the Athletic Complex or at the U-Desk in the Fred Nichols Campus Centre.
Kickoff at University Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
NOTES: Laurier has now won 12 straight games in the Battle of Waterloo…the Hawks have shutout the Warriors in back-to-back games and in three of their last four meetings…rookie linebacker Matt Williams of Ajax, Ont., led the Hawks in tackles with seven, a new career-high…attendance at Warrior Field was 1,328