Laurier looks to punch postseason ticket

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Photo: Trevor Mahoney

Game Date/Time: Saturday, October 17 – 1 p.m.
Game Location: University Stadium, Knight-Newbrough Field, Waterloo
Live Webcast/Stats: OUA.tv
Audiocast: RadioLaurier.com
Tickets: tickets.laurierathletics.com or at the box office on Game Day

THE SKINNY

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (3-3) look to punch their ticket to the OUA playoffs on Saturday afternoon as they host the No. 6 McMaster Marauders (5-1) on Seniors Day at University Stadium.

FAN INFORMATION

– Laurier students can attend the game for just two dollars if they purchase their game ticket prior to game day either online at tickets.laurierathletics.com, or at the Hawk Desk or U-Desk on campus
– Saturday is Autograph Day for the men’s football team and the Hawks will be on the field post-game to sign autographs for fans
– Prior to the game, the team will recognize the Hawks’ 17 graduating players who could potentially be playing their last game at University Stadium

NEED TO KNOW

– Laurier comes into the game riding a two-game winning streak following wins over the Waterloo Warriors and Ottawa Gee-Gees
– McMaster enters Week 8 on a winning streak of their own as they haven’t lost in three games, picking up wins over York, Windsor and Waterloo during that stretch
– The Marauders have won five straight games against the Hawks, including a 27-10 victory last season
– Laurier’s last home victory over McMaster came in the OUA Quarter-finals back in 2008 when they shut them out 29-0
– A win over the Marauders will send Laurier to the playoffs for the second straight season as they own the tiebreaker over both Ottawa and Toronto, with only one team able to catch them at four wins this season

ALL-TIME SERIES

Laurier leads the all-time series against McMaster with a 39-17-1 record dating back to the 1963 season. However, the Marauders have won the last five meetings with the purple and gold with the Hawks last win coming back in September of 2009.

MEET THE TEAMS
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (3-3)

The mood around the Golden Hawks has changed dramatically in the past two weeks thanks to a couple of big wins for the purple and gold. After reaching their lowest point of the season following the Homecoming loss to Windsor, Laurier has responded with their best two games of the season to put them into the playoff picture.

A big part of the Hawks’ success has been improved play in all facets of the game, combined with an increased focus on discipline. Over the last two games, Laurier has scored over 100 points while allowing just 30, and they are down to an average of 12 penalties per game in their last two contests, a big difference from the 20 they took against the Lancers three weeks ago.

Leading the offensive surge over the past two weeks has been quarterback Eric Morelli of Burlington, Ont. After managing a tough weather conditions game against Waterloo, he put up one of the best games by a quarterback in school history as he completed 20-of-42 passes for 298 yards and six touchdowns last week against Ottawa. Spreading the ball around to six different receivers, Morelli kept Ottawa’s defence off balance all night and is now fifth in the conference in completion percentage at 64.7 percent.

Laurier will need Morelli to be at his best against a stingy Marauders defence that currently ranks first in the OUA in passing yards allowed per game, at 220.8 a contest, and second in rush defence that is giving up just over 100 yards per game.

Defensively, the Hawks, who have given up less than 20 points per game in their last three contests, have been led by the play of Nakas Onyeka of Brampton, Ont. The third year linebacker currently ranks fourth in the OUA in tackles this season, with 39, and if he keeps up the current pace he’s on, he’ll finish the year with the seventh most tackles in a season in team history.

The Hawks will be challenged with trying to shut down another potent passing attack this week as the Marauders rank third in the province in passing yards per game.

McMaster Maraduers (5-1) – No. 6 in Canada

A year after reaching the Vanier Cup, the Marauders have not suffered any let down as they currently sit in a tie for second in the conference through six games this year.

The story of the season for the Marauders has been the play of quarterback Asher Hastings of Regina. Taking over from Marshall Ferguson, Hastings has been arguably the top quarterback in the country this year, averaging over 300 yards passing per game and as well as owning a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 25-to-2. His 25 touchdowns has already established a new OUA single-season record and he sits just five touchdown passes away from matching the all-time CIS single-season record.

Hastings benefits from having two of the top receivers to throw to as both Daniel Petermann of Stoney Creek, Ont., and Danny Vandervoort of Barrie, Ont., both rank in the Top 5 in the OUA for receiving yards this season. The pair also sits one-two in receiving touchdowns on the year with Vandervoort having caught nine while Petermann has six to his name.

Defensively for McMaster, the Hawks offensive line will have to contend with a pair of talented defensive linemen as Mike Kashak of Courtice, Ont., and Mark Mackie of London, Ont., are ranked fourth and fifth respectively in the conference in sacks this year. Kashak has 4.5 through six games while Mackie has four.

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