With its defence in mid-season form and quarterback recording a career-high passing performance, the Laurier Golden Hawks were able to coast to a 39-0 Week 1 win over the Toronto Varsity Blues at home on Sunday afternoon.
It was the kicking game that got the Golden Hawks on the board just under five minutes into the game though, thanks to a 44-yard field goal by Waterloo native, Nathan Mesher. Ten minutes later, running back Osayi Iginuan of Hamilton, Ont., converted a goal line opportunity with a one-yard touchdown plunge to give Laurier a 13-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Toronto’s offensive possession would be short-lived as a high snap went over the outstretched arm of Varsity Blues starting quarterback Connor Ennis (Waashington, D.C.) and into the endzone. Out of desperation, Ennis kicked the loose ball out of bounds to concede the safety, increasing Laurier’s lead to 15-0.
After two more Mesher field goals of 21 and 13 yards respectively, the Golden Hawks headed into the halftime break with an 18-0 lead but still searching for a consistent flow to their offensive game.
Answering the call was Carson Ouellette of Windsor, Ont., who, after hauling-in a short pass from quarterback Michael Knevel (Brantford, Ont.), shed a number of would-be tacklers over the course of 52 yards before diving into the end zone for Laurier’s second touchdown of the day.
The impressive running display would continue just over five minutes later as Levondre Gordon (Mississauga, Ont.) hit pay dirt on a 13-yard scamper to give Laurier a 32-0 lead.
The Golden Hawks’ third rushing touchdown of the game would come in the form of a 20-yard run by rookie Kevantye Bailey (Calgary, Alte.) with 4:38 remaining in regulation to round out the scoring.
Somewhat overshadowed in the otherwise dominant defensive effort (which, surprisingly, didn’t include any forced turnovers), was Knevel posting a career-high 341 passing yards (25/39, 1TD 0 INT). His favourite target on the day was receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. from Ottawa, Ont., who hauled-in nine catches for a game-high 110 yards. A 2016 all-star on special teams, Gittens Jr. also added 128 total return yards.
When all was said and done, Laurier would finish with 492 yards of total offence.
Reflecting on his team’s opening week effort, Head Coach Michael Faulds was pleased to start with a victory and the balanced effort in all three phases.
“Our defense played outstanding, as we obviously got the shutout,” said Faulds, adding, “Special teams had some great returns and, offensively, we definitely had a better showing in the second half.”
The fifth-year coach was also quick to praise the contributions of the team’s rookies.
“We have guys like Kevantye Bailey who played in his first game and got a touchdown. So I am really pleased with how the young guys played as well.”
With a bye in Week 2, the Golden Hawks will host the Carleton Ravens (1-0) at University Stadium on Saturday September 9th. Kick-off under the lights is set for 7pm.
- Sunday’s game marked the return of former Laurier Offensive Coordinator and Receivers Coach Mark Surya to University Stadium for the first time since joining the Toronto coaching staff in the off-season as its new OC. Surya played two years with the Golden Hawks before overseeing the offence the last four seasons.
- The Golden Hawks’ annual Community Day game drew 1000 fans.
Written by Dan Polischuk (OUAtv/AM570 News)