#5 Laurier meets #7 McMaster in OUA semis

sf-2016
Photo: Bruce Bell

Jamie Howieson
Laurier Athletics

Game Date/Time: Saturday, November 5 – 1 p.m.
Game Location: University Stadium, Waterloo
TV: CHCH
Radio: 570 News (Kitchener-Waterloo), TSN 1150 (Hamilton)
Live Webcast/Stats: OUA.tv
Live Audiocast: RadioLaurier.com
Tickets: tickets.laurierathletics.com

THE SKINNY

Fresh off their best regular season since 2007, the No. 5 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks will host a playoff game for the first time since 2010 when they take on the No. 7 McMaster Marauders in the OUA Semifinals on Saturday.

FAN INFORMATION
– Gates for the game will open at 12 p.m.
– 19 or older fans will have free access to the Somersby Tailgate Party in the West endzone
– Halftime will feature a performance from the World Champion disc catching dogs from Four Paws Flying Entertainment
– OUA Quest for the Cup Campus Tour will be on site
– fans attending the game are reminded that Saturday is also Fall Open House on the campus of Wilfrid Laurier University and to show respect and be safe for those visiting campus

SEASON SERIES

Laurier and McMaster did not meet during the regular season as they were non-combatants.

NEED TO KNOW

– The Golden Hawks hit the field for their first playoff game of 2016 after finishing second in the OUA, earning themselves a bye through the first round of the playoffs
– McMaster is coming off a hard-fought 17-11 victory over the Guelph Gryphons in the OUA Quarter-finals last Saturday to advance to this game
– Saturday’s game is a rematch of last year’s OUA Quarter-final, a contest that Laurier won in Hamilton by a score of 29-15
– Laurier owns a four-game playoff win streak against the Marauders dating back to 2004
– The Hawks last win against McMaster at University came in the OUA Quarter-finals back in 2008, a 29-0 shutout of the Marauders
– McMaster has won three-straight games in Waterloo, all during the regular season

ALL-TIME SERIES

Laurier leads the all-time series against McMaster with a 40-18-1 record. The Hawks own a postseason record of 6-3 against the Marauders, including a 29-15 victory in the OUA Quarter-finals a year ago. The victory was the fourth-straight playoff win over McMaster for the purple and gold.

MEET THE TEAMS
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (7-1/0-0) – No. 5 in Canada

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks put an exclamation mark on an impressive four-year turnaround under head coach Michael Faulds in 2016 as they went 7-1 this season, good for second place in the OUA, a marked contrast from their 1-7 record back in 2013.

Unlike last year, when the Hawks were slow out of the gates, Laurier got off to a flying start this season as they won their first four games, highlighted by an impressive road victory over the nationally-ranked Carleton Ravens. While the dream of an undefeated season would fall at the hands of the Western Mustangs in Week 6, the Hawks closed the year with three straight wins to secure a home playoff game for the first time since 2010.

Their performance on the field was all-around one of the best in school history. Laurier scored their most touchdowns ever in a season with 43, recorded the second-most points in team history with 341 and had the fourth-most rushing yards ever by a Golden Hawk squad with 2251.

Offensively, it was all about the run game once again for Laurier this year, as has become a staple of Coach Faulds’ teams. The purple and gold led the national in rushing, averaging 281.4 yards per game, primarily thanks to the work of backs Eric Guilitnan of London, Ont., Levondre Gordon of Mississauga, Ont., and Osayi Iginuan of Hamilton. Both Guiltinan and Gordon had over 600 yards on the ground in 2016, among the Top 7 in the conference, while the three combined to score 18 rushing majors, led by nine from Guiltinan.

On defence, the Hawks were led or were in the Top 3 in Canada in a number of categories including leading the nation in defensive touchdowns (six) and sacks (36). Laurier ranked second in Canada in both interceptions with 16 and points allowed at 15.8 while they were third in fumbles recovered with 11.

The Hawks feature an array of talent at all positions on the defensive side of the ball but are led by defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng of Milton, Ont., the second-ranked CFL prospect for the 2017 draft and Laurier’s all-time sacks leader, along with linebacker Nakas Onyeka and defensive back Godfrey Onyeka, both of Brampton, Ont. The cousins finished one-two on the team in tackles this season with Nakas recording 5.5 sacks and Godfrey picking off four passes, both second-best on the team.

McMaster Marauders – (6-2/1-0) – No. 7 in Canada

After being upset by the Golden Hawks in the quarter-finals last season, the McMaster Marauders come into Saturday’s game at University Stadium as the underdogs as they look to upset the purple and gold.

McMaster advanced to the semifinals thanks to a narrow 17-11 win over the Guelph Gryphons last week. Trailing the Gryphons, the 2015 Yates Cup Champions, for much of the contest, the Marauders scored 10 unanswered points in the final seven minutes of the game to come away with the win.

Like the Hawks, the Marauders feature one of the top defences in the country as they lead U Sports in points allowed this season at 10.8 per game. The group is anchored by defensive lineman Mike Kashak who led the nation in sacks with 11.5 while recording 29.5 tackles, 16.5 of those for a loss. They also feature senior defensive back Robbie Yochim who led the team with 40.5 tackles and three interceptions.

On offence, a year after featuring a pass-heavy look, the Marauders have turned themselves more to the run, led by fourth year back Chris Pezzetta. Pezzetta had a career-best 701 yards on the ground, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, along with five touchdowns.

McMaster still features a very talented group in the passing game, however, led by quarterback Asher Hastings who threw for 1915 yards this season along with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Top targets Dan Petermann and Dan Vandervoort still remain as weapons threw the air as both had over 500 receiving yards this season.

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