WATERLOO, ON — The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team survived a late comeback attempt from the Carleton Ravens, holding on for a 38-35 win in front of 4,006 fans Saturday night at University Stadium.
The win improves the No. 6 Golden Hawks to 2-0 on the season while the Ravens drop to 1-2.
Third-year running back Levondre Gordon (Mississauga, Ont.) was the offensive star for Laurier, rushing for a career-high 208 yards on 27 attempts, also a career high, while adding two touchdowns. Quarterback Michael Knevel(Brantford, Ont.) set a new career-high of his own, throwing for 373 yards, adding a touchdown. Meanwhile, fourth-year Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (Ottawa, Ont.) tied a career-high with 130 receiving yards on 10 catches.
For Carleton, first-year quarterback Michael Arruda had a huge evening, finishing the game 27/51 for 441 yards and four touchdowns. Arruda’s go-to target was fifth-year receiver Kyle VanWynsberghe, who caught eight passes for 160 yards.
Three of Arruda’s four touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter as he engineered a 21-point frame that almost saw the Ravens mount an 18-point comeback.
“There is never a perfect game,” said Laurier head coach Michael Faulds. “As I told the guys it’s about finding different ways to win. So ultimately I am happy we got the win against a quality opponent. But there are things that will need to be improved on.”
In the first quarter, Laurier built a 14-0 lead before the game was two minutes old on the strength of a four-yard touchdown run from Gordon and a six-yard touchdown pass from Knevel to Stu Smith (Mississauga, Ont.). The Golden Hawks would add a pair of Nathan Mesher (Waterloo, Ont.) field goals to lead 22-14 at halftime.
On the Ravens’ first drive of the third quarter Isaiah Guzylak-Messam (Hamilton, Ont.) picked off an Arruda pass to set up Gordon’s second touchdown run of the night, a 21-yarder. The Hawks would shut out the Ravens in the frame and take a 32-14 lead in to the fourth quarter.
But in the fourth, Arruda threw touchdown passes to Quinton Soares and Chad Marchulenko to make the game close; and then hit Wilson Birch with eight seconds on the clock to pull the Ravens within three points.
Following the touchdown, Carleton was unable to convert an onside kick and the Hawks closed out the win.
“The overall message I give is that it is not a sprint; it is a marathon, this season,” said Faulds. “We are only at game two, so there are things we will be working on before our game against Queen’s next weekend.”
Both teams had big nights offensively with Laurier racking up 576 yards of offence to Carleton’s 551.
Carleton linebacker Leon Cenerini led all tacklers with 13 total (11 solo), while fifth-year Brandon Calver (London, Ont.) led the Golden Hawks with 7.5 tackles (6 solo).
Mesher finished 5/5 on field goals with a long of 45 yards. His Carleton counterpart Mike Domagala was 1/2 on field goals but had a great night punting, averaging 46.9 yards per kick.
Laurier now holds an all-time record of 7-2-1 all-time versus Carleton. The Ravens most recent win over the Hawks came in 1965; all seven Laurier-Carleton match-ups prior to 2013 took place between 1963 and 1970.
Next Saturday, the Golden Hawks hit the road to take on the Queen’s Gaels (0-2) at Richardson Stadium in Kingston. Kickoff at Queen’s is 1 p.m.
NOTES: Linebackers Brian Lowrence (Collingwood, Ont.) and Noah Usherwood (Waterloo, Ont.) and running back Elijah Fera (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) returned to the lineup for Laurier after missing week one… Carleton running back Jayde Rowe did not play for the second straight game … The Golden Hawks have now won their last seven games at home (including playoffs) dating back to week one of last season … Brothers Godfrey (Laurier) and Kene (Carleton) Onyeka (Brampton, Ont.) were both recently ranked among the top 10 draft prospects by the CFL Scouting Bureau — Laurier quarterback Michael Knevel’s twin brother David, an offensive lineman at the University of Nebraska was ranked at No. 1 on the list … Saturday night’s game was the conclusion of Laurier’s Orientation Week for first-year students.