LONDON, ON – The No. 9 ranked Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks had their season come to a halt in a heartbreaker, as the No. 2 Western Mustangs advanced to the Yates Cup with a 32-18 victory.
In what could be considered one of the tightest games against the Mustangs this year, Laurier was within a score for most of the contest including tying it up early in the second. The only touchdown for the purple-and-gold came from defensive back Malcolm Thompson of Windsor, Ont. who picked off pivot Will Finch of Burlington, Ont. and ran it back 58 yards later that quarter.
“Offensive, it just wasn’t our day. Trying to get it going can be frustrating when you can’t string plays together but we’re proud of the way our offence battled,” said quarterback Eric Morelli of Burlington, Ont. post-game.
Both teams saw significant offensive weapons sidelined in the contest including running back Dillon Campbell of Whitby, Ont. for Laurier and Mustang quarterback Will Finch.
After a 53-yard run in the second frame, Campbell came out of the game and the Hawks were without their leading rushing. Campbell’s final drive would lead to the first of what would be three field goals by Nathan Mesher of Waterloo, Ont. Towards the start of the third quarter, Western’s pivot Will Finch came out of the game due to a hit sustained on a pass attempt.
The Golden Hawks held Western to their lowest point output of the year with only the 32 points put on the board on 449 yards of offensive output.
“Our defence, against the top offence in the country, played outstanding. We just couldn’t make enough plays of our own, but we battled,” stated head coach Michael Faulds when asked about some of the highlights in the game.
After the tight first half, which ended 15-13 for the Mustangs, Western picked up five additional points on a Laurier safety and a field goal of their own. Matt Uren of London, Ont. would score his second touchdown of the game for the Mustangs to put the team up 25-15 before Mesher hit his final field goal to close the gap to one score. The final major of the game came with less than a minute left.
“I really feel for them right now,” commented Faulds on the last game for the graduating players. “For our young guys, I know they are really motivated. They are going to work hard this off-season, but today’s just about our seniors and them not going out in the way they wanted, but I told them that they’ve got to be happy of the way this season ended considering where it was halfway through.”