Meeting for just the second time since Carleton returned to the OUA four years ago, the No. 7 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (2-0) aim for their third straight victory to open the season as they take on the No. 4 Ravens (2-1) in Ottawa.
NEED TO KNOW
– Laurier heads into their CIS Top 10 showdown with Carleton fresh off their bye week
– the Hawks last game action came back on Labour Day Monday when they posted one of their highest offensive outputs in team history as they defeated the York Lions 74-3
– in that contest, the purple and gold rushed for 575 yards, the second-highest total in OUA history
– Carleton enters the game coming off back-to-back wins, including a 65-7 victory over the Toronto Varsity Blues last week
– Laurier enters the game ranked No. 7 in Canada, the highest the program has been ranked since holding down the No. 6 spot to open the 2010 season
– Laurier has not won three games in a row since winning three straight back in the 2014 season, which included their Homecoming victory over the Ravens
Laurier and Carleton will be meeting on Saturday for just the ninth time in the history of the two programs. The purple and gold own an all-time record of 5-2-1 against the Ravens, including a 53-3 victory over Carleton in 2014, the only meeting between the two teams since the Ravens returned to CIS football back in 2013. The previous seven meetings prior to the 2014 tilt occurred between 1963 and 1970.
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (2-0) – No. 7 in Canada
Off to their best start since 2007, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks will be a well-rested and confident team heading into their matchup with Carleton, as they come off their bye week currently tied for first in the OUA.
Offensively, despite a sluggish performance in Week 1 vs Queen’s, the purple and gold are rolling thanks to one of the best offensive performances in team history. Racking up 832 yards of total offence, including 575 yards on the ground, the second most in OUA history, Laurier put up 74 points against the York Lions in their last contest and will look to use that momentum heading into one of their biggest games of the season.
The Hawks have gotten the job done on the ground this season as they lead the league in rushing yards per game at 363.5 and average 7.7 yards per carry. Fifth year running back Eric Guiltinan of London, Ont., leads the way as he has 265 yards and three touchdowns through two games. However, right behind him are a pair of talented second years inLevondre Gordon of Mississauga, Ont., and Osayi Iginuan of Hamilton, who are coming off 100-plus yard performances against the Lions. All three players promise to showcase prominently on Saturday against the Ravens.
On defence, Laurier has also been dominant as they have allowed a conference-low 265.5 yards per game and just 10.5 points per game, second lowest in the OUA. The Hawks front four have led the way as they have helped create a league-best 15 sacks, six more then both McMaster and Queen’s who are tied for second in the conference.
While the purple and gold have a number of star players on defence, one of the brightest so far in 2016 has been defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng of Milton, Ont. A CFL draft prospect, Boateng is tied for second in the OUA in sacks this season with three and is tied for third in forced fumbles with two. Shutting down the fourth year defensive end will definitely be part of Carleton’s game plan on Saturday.
Carleton Ravens – (2-1) No. 4 in Canada
Like the Golden Hawks, the Ravens have been a team on the rise over the last four seasons. In 2013, both teams finished at the bottom of the OUA standings, the Hawks going 1-7 and the Ravens 0-8. Fast forward three years and now both programs are among the Top 10 in Canada.
Unlike Laurier, whose offence is built around the run game, the Ravens like to win games through the air. Ranked second in the OUA in passing yards per game at 364.0, Carleton is led by fifth year quarterback Jesse Mills of Halifax, who sits first in the conference with 1014 passing yards this season while completing nearly 72 percent of his attempts. Mills is flocked by a bevy of talented receivers including Nathaniel Behar of London, Ont., and Kyle VanWynsberghe of Delhi, Ont., who both have 21 receptions on the season.
On defence, fourth year linebacker Leon Cenerini of La Salle, MA, anchors a group that is allowing the fourth-fewest passing yards per game in the conference.
However, the Ravens biggest weapon is by far returner Tunde Adekele of Ottawa, on special teams. The fourth year defensive back is averaging an incredible 31.3 yards per punt return while returning three for touchdowns in three games this season. While not quite on pace to break former Golden Hawk Dillon Heap’s OUA record of 912 punt return yards in a season, Adekele will represent a stiff test for Laurier’s special teams cover unit.