The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, the sixth seed in the OUA, will be looking for the upset this Saturday when they face the No. 6 McMaster Marauders, the third seed in the OUA, in one of two OUA Quarter-final games.
The Hawks and Marauders last squared off two weeks ago in Week 8 of the regular season where McMaster picked up a 30-21 victory at University Stadium.
NEED TO KNOW
– Laurier qualified for the OUA playoffs for the second consecutive season under head coach Michael Faulds thanks to a 49-26 win over the Queen’s Gaels last weekend
– the victory allowed the Hawks to finish the season with a 4-4 record as they clinched the sixth and final playoff spot
– McMaster enters the playoffs after suffering their second defeat of the year, a 46-24 setback to the No. 2 Western Mustangs that snapped their four-game win streak
– Saturday marks the ninth all-time playoff meeting between Laurier and McMaster with the Hawks owning a 5-3 record in the previous eight games
– the last playoff meeting between the two schools came back in 2008 when the purple and gold shutout the Marauders 29-0 at University Stadium
– Laurier and McMaster have not played a playoff game in Hamilton since the 2003 Yates Cup, a game that was won 41-17 by the Marauders
– the home team has won each of the previous five playoff meetings between the two universities, with Laurier coming out on top in the last three games
Laurier leads the all-time series against McMaster with a 39-18-1 record dating back to the 1963 season. However, the Hawks have lost their last six meetings with the Marauders dating back to 2010 season.
MEET THE TEAMS
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (4-4)
For the second straight season under head coach Michael Faulds, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks will vie for the Yates Cup as they qualified for the OUA playoffs with a 4-4 regular season record.
The season was a tale of two halves for the purple and gold. Laurier went 1-3 through their first four games before rallying with three wins in their final four games to clinch a spot in the postseason. The turning point of the year may have also been the lowest point of the season for the Hawks as they lost to at-the-time winless Windsor 22-18 on Homecoming. Since that time, Laurier has outscored their opposition 177-86 and enters the playoffs full of confidence.
The key is Laurier’s success this season has been the ground game, led by three-time OUA rushing champion Dillon Campbell of Whitby, Ont. The Hawks rank second in the OUA, behind only the Western Mustangs, in rushing offence this year as they averaged 214.9 yards per game on the ground. Campbell has been a big part of that success as he rushed for 1,115 yards on the season, becoming the first Golden Hawk to ever run for more than 1,000 yards in two different years.
Despite only making five starts in his career, quarterback Eric Morelli of Burlington, Ont., has done an outstanding job of managing the football and moving the ball through the air. He finished the year completing 62.3 percent of his passes, fifth-best among the league’s regular starters in 2015, while also having a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 12:3.
The defence has also been one of the Hawks strengths this year and they will need another great game going up against a high-powered Marauders’ offence. Laurier finished fourth in the OUA in points allowed per game while tying for the league lead in both fumble recoveries and touchdowns this year.
A multitude of Hawks have featured in the success of the team’s defence but watch out for linebacker Nakas Onyeka of Brampton, Ont., who had a team-high 48 tackles this year, tied for fifth in the OUA, as well as defensive end Kwaku Boateng of Milton, Ont., who has three sacks in his past two games.
McMaster Maraduers (6-2) – No. 6 in Canada
It has been another great season for the Marauders as the defending Yates Cup champions posted a 6-2 record to finish third in the conference.
Offence has been the name of the game for McMaster in 2015 and they are led by quarterback Asher Hastings of Regina, Sask. The third year pivot set a new CIS record for most touchdown passes in a single season as he threw for 31 this year to go along with 2,586 yards and a 71.5 completion percentage, highest in the league. While he only threw five interceptions this year, two of them were against the Golden Hawks just two weeks ago.
Hastings has a number of weapons at his disposal in his receiving core, including Dan Petermann of Stoney Creek, Ont., and Danny Vandervoort of Barrie, Ont. Petermann finished third in the OUA in receiving yards this year with 831 while Vandervoort led the league in touchdown catches with 11. Both will need to be watched closely by Laurier’s defensive backs on Saturday.
Although the Marauders lost a large core of their defence after their run to the Vanier Cup a year ago, McMaster possesses an under-rated group that finished third in the league in points allowed this year at 26.4 while allowing the fewest rushing yards in the OUA at 122.8 per game. The matchup between this group and Laurier’s rushing offence could be the key that decides which team comes out on top Saturday.