Laurier faces Queens with playoffs on the line

campbell_trevormahoney
Photo: Trevor Mahoney

Jamie Howieson
Laurier Athletics

Game Date/Time: Saturday, October 24, 2015 – 1 p.m.
Game Location: Richardson Stadium, Kingston
Live Webcast/Stats: OUA.tv
Audiocast: None
Tickets: Tickets are sold out for Saturday’s game

THE SKINNY

Needing a victory in their final game of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (3-4) will look for their fourth win of the season on Saturday when they head to Kingston to take on the Queen’s Gaels (5-2) on their Homecoming weekend.

NEED TO KNOW

– Saturday’s matchup between the Hawks and Gaels marks the fifth time the teams have played at Richardson Stadium in the last four years
– the last meeting between the two teams saw Queen’s earn a 40-34 overtime victory over the purple and gold at their Homecoming back in 2013
– the Hawks enter the final week of the season after losing a close contest to the nationally-ranked McMaster Marauders 30-21 a week ago
– the Gaels are winners of their last three games entering their final game of the regular season
– Saturday’s game marks the final home game at the current version of Richardson Stadium for the Gaels

ALL-TIME SERIES

The Hawks and Gaels meet for just the 19th time in their respective histories. Queen’s leads the all-time series with 11 wins in 18 games and have won the last five meetings with the Golden Hawks. Laurier’s last victory against the Gaels was a 44-23 decision back in 2010 while the Hawks last victory in Kingston came back in 2007.

MEET THE TEAMS
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (3-4)

It’s been an up-and-down season for the purple and gold through their first seven games of the year. They’ve experienced the highs of impressive wins over Ottawa and Waterloo, their cross-town rivals, and the lows of defeats at the hands of Windsor and Guelph, both games which they had the opportunity to win. However, the Hawks can erase all those lows with a victory in their final game of the year which will send Laurier through to the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Laurier has had great success when they establish the run and that will be something they look to do once again on Saturday. Dillon Campbell of Whitby, Ont., who is playing in his final regular season game with the purple and gold, is the key to that success as Laurier has won all three of their games this season when he rushes for over 100 yards. Campbell also has the opportunity to make Laurier history, once again, as he needs just 22 yards to become the first running back in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season twice in his career.

However, for the run game to be efficient, Laurier is going to need a great day from quarterback Eric Morelli of Burlington, Ont., and his receiving core. While no one should expect Morelli to throw for six touchdowns every game, like he did earlier this season against Ottawa, the second year pivot, who is expected to make his fifth career start on Saturday, will need to manage the football and mix up the offence to keep Queen’s off balance.

On defence, the key for defensive coordinator Ron VanMoerkerke and his squad will be limiting the big-play capability of the Gaels. In the last two weeks, Queen’s has had two passing touchdowns of over 100 yards, something that the purple and gold need to contain as they will want to limit the cheers of the sold out crowd in Kingston.

Queen’s Gaels (5-2)

After missing the playoffs a year ago, the Queen’s Gaels have put together a solid season that has them returning to the postseason in 2015. Thanks to impressive victories over Carleton and Guelph, both playoff teams this year, the Gaels have the opportunity to clinch a home playoff game with a victory on Saturday.

The Gaels have had success this season thanks to a balanced offensive attack that sees them ranked fourth in the conference in rushing yards per game, just behind the Hawks who are third, and fifth in Ontario in passing yards per game. The keys to their offensive attack are running back Jesse Andrews of Arnprior, Ont., and quarterback Nate Hobbs of Mississauga, Ont.  Andrews, whose status is questionable for Saturday after missing the last two weeks with injury, is leading the league in rushing yards per game at 147.6 while Hobbs, in his first season under centre for the Gaels, has thrown for 1,979 yards and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 13:5.

Defensively, Queen’s has had their struggles this year as they rank last in the league in passing yards allowed per game at over 316 while their rushing defence ranks seventh out of 11 teams. However, two players to keep an eye on include Jason Shamatutu of Port Coquitlam, B.C., and Mike Moore of Mississauga, Ont., who rank seventh and tenth in the league in tackles this season.

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