WATERLOO, ON– The No. 10 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team wracked up 575 rushing yards, the second most in school history, as they cruised to a 74-3 victory over the York Lions on Monday night at University Stadium.
Armed with a stable of seven running backs, three of whom registered over 100 yards in the contest, the Hawks (2-0) ran wild over the Lions (1-1), recording their best rushing performance since 1974 to post their best start to a season since 2007.
“It felt really good to finally play all three phases that well,” said head coach Michael Faulds after the game. “I mean, look how many rushers and running backs got touches and touchdowns, look at our defense with another defensive touchdown from Malcolm Thompson, and then on Special Teams, getting that Carson Ouellette touchdown, so when all three phases are rolling like that, that’s a complete team.”
Leading the way on the ground for the purple and gold was fifth year running back Eric Guiltinan of London, Ont. In just his second career start, Guiltinan posted the best game of his career, recording 180 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. It marked the second time the product of A.B. Lucas SS has run for 100 yards in his career.
Joining Guiltinan in eclipsing the 100-yard rushing mark were second year backs Levondre Gordon of Mississauga, Ont., and Osayi Iginuan of Hamilton. Both players ran over the century mark for the first time in their careers while also recording the first touchdowns of their careers. Gordon finished the game with 115 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries while Iginuan had 110 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
The Hawks, who had six rushing touchdowns in the contest, also got a major from Elijah Fera of Windsor, Ont., who scored his first career touchdown while posting 69 yards on 10 attempts.
“All our running backs played really great obviously,” said Guiltinan of the group’s performance. “[The offensive line] really opened up some good holes so it was nice that all the other guys got to contribute too.”
While the scoreline ended up as one of the most lopsided in team history, with Laurier scoring their fourth-most points in a game, the contest was very much in doubt through the first 15 minutes. Laurier held a narrow 4-3 lead after one quarter as both teams struggled to generate much offence.
However, the second quarter was a completely different story as the Hawks exploded for 31 points, highlighted by long touchdown runs from both Guiltinan (46 yards) and Gordon (57 yards) as well as a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive back Malcolm Thompson of Windsor, Ont.
For Thompson, who was playing his 13th career gam e at Laurier, including preseason, regular season and playoffs, it marks the fourth time he’s found the endzone. It was also the second consecutive year that he has registered a pick six against the Lions.
The second half was much like the second quarter for Laurier as they would go on to find the endzone six more times. Four touchdowns came on the ground, one was through the air, courtesy of Daniel Bennett of Scarborough, Ont., which marked the first career passing touchdown for Michael Knevel of Brantford, Ont., and one was scored on a 65-yard punt return touchdown from Carson Ouellette of Windsor, Ont.
Quarterback Julien John of Oakville, Ont., who struggled in Week 1, was solid for Laurier in the contest as he completed 8-of-16 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown while throwing one interception. Knevel, who was seeing his first game action of his OUA career in his fourth year with the team, was impressive as he completed 5-of-6 pass attempts for 11 0 yards and a touchdown.
When all was said and done, the Hawks wound up posting 814 total yards of offence while limited the Lions to just 238. Laurier’s defensive effort, which duplicated their performance in Week 1 against Queen’s, saw the purple and gold record six sacks in the game while picking up three turnovers.
The victory keeps Laurier in a tie for first place in the conference as they remain deadlocked with the McMaster Marauders as the only teams with two wins in the league.
Laurier will now use a bye week to rest up a prepare for a showdown with the No. 9 Carleton Ravens (1-1), who are coming off a victory over the No. 4 Western Mustangs. That game is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 17 at MNP Park in Ottawa.
NOTES: The 74 points is the most Laurier has scored under head coach Michael Faulds and the most the team has recorded since scoring 80 against McMaster in 1992…the most rushing yards Laurier h as recorded in a game as a team is 637 against the same York Lions back in 1974, a mark that is an OUA record…defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng of Milton, Ont., recorded his 17th career sack to surpass Giancarlo Rapanaro for second most in school history…he currently sits half a sack behind the all-time leader Eric Schwab…Joshua Perez of Mississauga, Ont., also scored his first career touchdown on a 24-yard pass from John in the second quarter, giving Laurier four players who found the endzone for the first time in their careers on Monday…attendance at the game, which featured a large contingent of first year students for the Hawks’ annual O-Week game, was 4231