Smith, Knevel lead Golden Hawks over Queens

KINGSTON, ON — Robbie Smith (Brampton, Ont.) set a Laurier record while Michael Knevel (Brantford, Ont.) had another career day as the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team beat the Queen’s Gaels 40-17 Saturday afternoon. On a hot, muggy day at Richardson Stadium in Kingston, the Golden Hawks dominated the time of possession battle, wearing down the Queen’s defence as Knevel threw for 399 yards, setting a new career high for the third straight week. The Laurier quarterback also threw four touchdown passes, marking another career best.

Defensively, Smith racked up 4.5 sacks on the day, setting a new Laurier single-game record, breaking the previous mark (four) set by Kwaku Boateng in 2014. The Laurier defence picked up eight sacks on the day, holding Nate Hobbs and the Queen’s offence to 241 net yards and shutting out the Gaels in the second half.

The win keeps the Hawks’ perfect record intact, moving them to 3-0 on the season, while the Gaels drop to 0-3.

Laurier opened the scoring mid-way through the first quarter when Brentyn Hall (Toronto, Ont.) caught his first touchdown of the season, winning a jump ball in the endzone on a 23-yard pass from Knevel. Hall finished the game with 111 yards on eight catches, leading all receivers.

After Laurier went ahead, the teams traded touchdowns as the Gaels’ Jaeden Washington scored on a one-yard touchdown run before the Golden Hawks responded with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Knevel to Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (Ottawa, Ont.).

Queen’s would take the lead following a Nick Liberatore 42-yard field goal and a 27-yard touchdown catch from Chris Osei-Kusi, which was set up by a Laurier fumble — the Golden Hawks’ first turnover of the season.

But the Hawks grabbed the advantage back before halftime when Osayi Iginuan (Hamilton, Ont.) ran it from four yards out with less than a minute on the clock. Nathan Mesher (Waterloo, Ont.) hit a career-long 52-yard field goal as the second quarter expired to give Laurier a 26-17 lead at the half. Mesher finished the game 2/3 on field goals.

After the teams traded field position through the third quarter, Laurier’s Brendan McCracken (Kitchener, Ont.) made a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch with just over a minute left in the frame to put the Golden Hawks ahead 33-17.

The Laurier defence snuffed out any hopes of a Queen’s comeback when Scott Hutter (London, Ont.) intercepted Hobbs early in the fourth quarter, leading to Gittens’ second touchdown catch of the day, making the game 40-17. Gittens finished with 90 yards on seven receptions.

In addition to Smith’s record-setting day, the Hawks got sacks from Rashari Henry (Ottawa, Ont.), Trevaughan James (Whitby, Ont.), Alfred Green (Ajax, Ont.) and Sam Acheampong (Brampton, Ont.).

The win improves the Golden Hawks’ all-time record against the Gaels to 10-11 (including playoffs). Laurier has now won three straight over Queen’s, including last year’s 37-18 win in the season opener.

Next week the Golden Hawks visit the 4-0 Waterloo Warriors for the latest instalment of the Battle of Waterloo. Laurier owns an all-time record of 41-14-1 against Waterloo and have won the last 13 meetings. But the Warriors have had a resurgence this year in head coach Chris Bertoia’s third season at the helm and are fresh off a 45-43 win over Carleton.

This season the two occupants of University Avenue have added some extra intensity to the cross-town rivalry. The university with the best record from all contests between the Hawks and Warriors in baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer will be awarded the inaugural Battle of Waterloo trophy. So far the two schools are deadlocked with the Laurier-Waterloo men’s and women’s soccer games last weekend both ending in a draw.

Next Saturday’s contest on the gridiron will put one school ahead in the season-long competition. Kick off at Warrior Field is 1 p.m.

The Golden Hawks’ next home game will come Sept. 30 when the Western Mustangs visit University Stadium for a Yates Cup rematch on Laurier Homecoming.

NOTES: Levondre Gordon (Mississauga, Ont.) led Laurier in rushing with 94 yards on 19 carries …  The Golden Hawks have now won eight straight games against OUA opponents, a winning streak that dates back to Oct. 6 of last year (including playoffs) … Laurier’s last loss to Queen’s came on Oct. 5, 2013 when the Gaels triumphed 40-34 in overtime … Attendance at Richardson Stadium was 2,653.

– Written by Justin Fauteux

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