Big first half leads Laurier over Waterloo

Jamie Howieson
Laurier Athletics

WATERLOO, ON – Running back Eric Guiltinan and defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng both etched their names into the Wilfrid Laurier history books on Homecoming weekend as the Golden Hawks defeated the Waterloo Warriors 68-7 at University Stadium.

Playing in front of a boisterous crowd of 7,595 fans, Guiltinan ran for four first half touchdowns, tying him for third on Laurier’s single-game list, while Boateng became the team’s all-time sacks leader to help the Hawks improve their record to 4-0 on the season.

“Obviously we played really well, and clean football, in the first half,” said head coach Michael Faulds after the Hawks’ fourth straight win to open the year. “In the second half, it’s kind of common nature, you take your foot off the pedal a little bit, you’re getting some of the younger guys into the game, but I’m proud of our team effort.”

“Yeah, we executed pretty well at the start of the game,” added Guiltinan, echoing his head coach’s comments. “Obviously it was nice having that first drive on the three-yard line to get the momentum going, so yeah it was nice.”

Entering the game with just nine points scored in the first quarter, Laurier looked to get off to a flying start against the last place Warriors (0-5). After a quick two-and-out by Waterloo, Laurier’s special teams unit gave the Hawks the start they needed as they got to Waterloo punter Caleb Girard of Waterford, Ont., taking him down on his own three-yard line.

On the ensuing possession, Guiltinan, a native of London, Ont., punched in his first touchdown of the afternoon from two-yards out to give Laurier a 7-0 lead just two minutes and three seconds into the game.

Following a conceded safety by the Warriors, the Hawks wasted little time finding the endzone once again. A three-play, 50-yard drive that lasted just 25 seconds was capped off by Guiltinan’s second touchdown of the afternoon, a 21-yard run to the house that extended the Hawks lead to 16-0.

Laurier would add one more score in the quarter, a four-yard run by Darian Waite of Newmarket, Ont., to claim a 23-0 lead after 15 minutes, more than doubling their first quarter offensive output from their first three games.

The second quarter was much of the same from the Hawks. The team found the endzone on four more occasions, including a pair of 54-yard runs from Guiltinan and Levondre Gordon of Mississauga, Ont., and a 16-yard touchdown reception by Brendan McCracken of Kitchener, Ont.

Guiltinan would cap the half with a 36-yard scamper to pay dirt as Laurier cruised to a 53-0 lead over their cross-town rivals.

The first half stats were impressive for the Hawks as they posted 426 yards of offence under the guidance of quarterback Michael Knevel of Brantford, Ont., who was making his first career start. On his own, Guiltinan ran for 176 yards on just 14 carries to go along with the four scores giving him 642 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, tops in the OUA, on the year.

While Laurier slowed down offensively in the second half, adding just 15 points to their final score, the special performances for the Homecoming faithful didn’t stop. Midway through the third quarter, Boateng, a native of Milton, Ont., got through the Warriors offensive line and took down Waterloo starting quarterback Ethan Belbeck of Hamilton, in the endzone for the sack and a safety.

The sack gave Boateng 18 for his career and moved him into first place on Laurier’s all-time list, 0.5 sacks ahead of Eric Schwab who played for Laurier from 1995-2001.

“I’m not surprised [that Kwaku set the record],” said Faulds on his star defensive lineman. “He is an unbelievable leader for us. It’s kind of very fitting that he does it, and gets a safety on the play. He’s just an outstanding leader for us, a great student, and I’m happy for him.”

One bright spot for Waterloo came in the fourth quarter. Down 65-0 following a 39-yard field goal from the HawksNathan Mesher of Kitchener, Ont., and a 21-yard touchdown from Mario Villamizar of St. Catharines, Ont., Waterloo finally found the endzone on a 21-yard pass from backup quarterback AJ Stewart of Ridgeway, Ont., to Tyler Ternowski of Hamilton.

The scoring play ended Laurier’s shutout streak against Waterloo at 185 minutes and five seconds, a stretch that dated back to the fourth quarter of the Hawks game against the Warriors in 2013.

Outside of Guiltinan’s impressive game, other strong performances came from Knevel, who finished his first career start completing 14-of-21 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns.

“He played well,” said Guiltinan on Knevel’s performance. “He didn’t really show any nerves which is always the biggest concern but he stepped up and played great, which is good for him.”

Gordon was also strong on the ground, as he had 86 yards and a touchdown on just five carries. In total, eight Laurier rushers combined to post 440 yards, the sixth-highest total in school history.

Defensively, the Hawks spent much of the afternoon in Waterloo’s backfield, finishing with 16 tackles for a loss as well as five sacks, raising their season total to a league-best 20.

Linebacker Nakas Onyeka of Brampton, Ont., led the way as he had 7.5 total tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, and a pass breakup. Defensive back Scott Hutter of London, Ont., the reigning OUA Defensive Player of the Week, had 4.5 tackles, two for a loss, and two sacks, while rookie defensive back Christian Hutter-Coppin of Barrie, Ont., had Laurier’s lone interception of the day, the first of his career.

Laurier’s impressive defence limited Waterloo to just 17 rushing yards and a total of 182 yards on the day. Ternowski was the only player to enjoy any success against the Hawks, making four catches for 133 yards and a touchdown.

The purple and gold now turn their attention to the purple and white from London, the Western Mustangs. The matchup on October 1 will see two of the three four-win teams in the OUA go head-to-head in one of the biggest games on the conference calendar this year.

“It’s a big game for us,” said Faulds ahead of the showdown. “Obviously we haven’t beaten them in I think 10 years so I’m going to remind the guys of that all week. It’s definitely a team that’s been the class of this league for a while and if we’re going to make some real noise, we know we have to beat a team like that.”

Kickoff for next Saturday’s game at TD Stadium in London is set for 1 p.m.

NOTES: Linebacker Brandon Calver of London, Ont., returned from missing the last two games to record 4.5 tackles…receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. of Ottawa, had his best performance of the year, making six catches for 56 yards while adding 102 kickoff return yards on three attempts…Guiltinan continues to lead the OUA in average rushing yards per game at 160.5

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