Eric Guiltinan posted his first career 200-plus yard rushing game on Saturday (Photo Credit: Kha Vo)
OTTAWA (September 17, 2016) – The No. 7 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team improved their record to 3-0 for the first time since 2007 on Saturday afternoon as they rallied to edge the No. 4 Carleton Ravens 17-16 at MNP Park.
For the second straight week, the Hawks rode the legs of fifth year running back Eric Guiltinan of London, Ont., who rushed for 200-yards on 23 carries to help his team overcome a 16-7 deficit late in the third quarter to come away with the victory.
“It feels amazing, especially how we won [coming from behind],” said head coach Michael Faulds following the victory. “Our defence played amazing today, especially with their ability to force and create turnovers. Offensively, we couldn’t muster much but we stuck with the run and we wore them down and it turned into big runs in the second half.”
Playing in a steady downpour for a majority of the contest, the two nationally-ranked teams kept the ball on the ground for much of the afternoon. However, both team’s defences were prepared and limited the scoring chances on both sides of the football.
It was the Hawks’ defence that struck first as safety Taylor Calverley of Pottageville, Ont., intercepted Ravens’ quarterback Jesse Mills of Halifax, in the endzone to keep the Ravens from opening the scoring midway through the first quarter.
From there, Laurier limited Carleton to a pair of first half conceded safeties and a 32-yard field goal from Michael Domagala of St. Catharines, Ont., as the Ravens took a 7-0 lead.
With the offence struggling to find their footing, recording just six passing yards in the opening half, the Hawks’ defence stepped up once again late in the second quarter. Linebacker Scott Hutter of London, Ont., stepped in front of a Mills pass and returned it 54-yards for a touchdown to tie the game at seven.
Hutter’s major marked the third consecutive week that the Hawks have returned an interception for a touchdown, as he joined Godfrey Onyeka of Brampton, Ont., and Malcolm Thompson of Windsor, Ont., in accomplishing the feat.
Despite the Hawks great play on defence in the opening half, the Ravens struck quickly to start the second. Carleton completed an eight-play, 76-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Mills to Kyle VanWynsberghe of Delhi, Ont., to give them a 14-7 lead.
After conceding their third safety of the day to stake Carleton to a 16-7 advantage, the Hawks run game slowly started coming to life late in the third quarter. With quarterback Michael Knevel of Brantford, Ont., running the offence in place of starter Julien John of Oakville, Ont., the Hawks put together a 10-play, 90-yard drive late in the quarter, highlighted by a 36-yard run by Guiltinan down to the Ravens’ one-yard line.
The drive was capped off one play later by a one-yard touchdown run from Darian Waite of Newmarket, Ont., the first touchdown of his OUA career, to cut the deficit to 16-14.
In the fourth quarter, Laurier’s defence once again made an impact in the contest. Defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng of Milton, Ont., forced a fumble deep in Ravens territory that was recovered by Hutter on the Carleton 10-yard line. While the Hawks weren’t able to punch it into the endzone, kicker Nathan Mesher of Waterloo, Ont., was successful in hitting the tough eight-yard chip shot to give his team a 17-16 lead.
From there, Laurier stood tall and held the Ravens in check, highlighted by an impressive stop on third and two at midfield on Carleton’s next possession. The Ravens would get no closer to scoring and Laurier ran out the clock to come away with the victory.
“We schemed a little differently in the second half on offence,” said Faulds on his team’s second half performance. “But when it comes down to it, it was the wear and tear of pounding the ball in the first half that allowed us to have success in the second half. We were the fresher team and that allowed Eric to have a big second half performance.”
Guiltinan, who continues to lead the OUA in rushing this season, now averaging 155.0 yards per game, was the lone star of a Laurier offence that produced just 263 yards in the contest. Guiltinan accounted for 212 of those yards, as in addition to his 200 rushing yards, he also had 12 yards on two receptions.
John, who started the game at quarterback, completed just 2-of-9 passes for six yards before he was replaced by Knevel who finished the game 4-for-8 for 40 yards.
“We’re going to have to look at the quarterback position this week,” added Faulds after the game. “That being said, it wasn’t the easiest day to throw the ball in the rain. I’m proud of Michael with how he played coming in at the half and with how Julien handled the switch. That’s the type of character we have on this team.”
On defence, the stars of the afternoon were Calverley and Hutter. Calverley finished the contest with six total tackles and two interceptions, the first two interceptions of his career. Meanwhile, Hutter registered 4.5 total tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup.
For Carleton, they were led on the afternoon by fourth year running back Jayde Rowe of Scarborough, Ont., as he posted 161 yards on 24 carries. Mills finished the day 19-of-36 for 202 yards and a touchdown while tossing three interceptions and on defence, Leon Cenerini of La Salle, MA, had 10.5 total tackles and one interception.
With the win, the Hawks remain tied with the Ottawa Gee-Gees (3-0) for first place in the OUA standings as the only two undefeated teams in the conference.
As for the Ravens, they drop to 2-2 on the year and sit in a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference.
Up next for Laurier, they will return to Waterloo for their annual Homecoming game next Saturday, September 24, when they take on the Waterloo Warriors (0-4). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at University Stadium.
Tickets for the game can be purchased by visiting tickets.laurierathletics.com or visiting the Hawk Desk or U-Desk on campus.
NOTES: Guiltinan became just the sixth player in Laurier history to record 200 rushing yards in a contest…it also marked a new career-high for the fifth year back…the Hawks were held without a sack on the afternoon after recording 15 through their first two games…Laurier also prevented Carleton from recording a sack in the contest…Saturday’s game was Carleton’s annual Homecoming contest…attendance at the game was 2,819