The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks will look to repeat last season’s dramatics as they once again head to TD Stadium in London in the quest for the Ontario university football championship — the Yates Cup.
The Golden Hawks, fresh off a 19-6 win over the McMaster Marauders on home soil in front of a chilly crowd of 1,678 Saturday, will now prepare to take on the No. 2 Western Mustangs this Saturday in London.
“The key for us on offence was getting first downs going into the wind,” said head coach Michael Faulds, noting the 50 km/h wind gusts.
For Western, it’s a chance at retribution for a dramatic 2016 loss. Down by 21 points with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Golden Hawks managed to stage one of — if not the — most dramatic comebacks in Yates Cup history. Rookie Nathan Mesher, a Sir John A. Macdonald grad, nailed the game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock to seal the deal for the Golden Hawks.
“When we lost the Homecoming game against Western here this year, we thought ‘OK, we’re going to see that team again,” said Faulds. “Obviously we had a feeling it was going to be in the Yates Cup.”
On Saturday, Tristan Arndt got hit second start behind centre as quarterback Michael Knevel had a “setback” during practice early last week. Reports say he’s been dealing with concussion-type symptoms.
Arndt, the arbitrary hero in the final game of the regular season two weeks prior, was on his game again, going 17-for-26 for a total of 189 yards through the air. Despite nearly 200 yards of passing, Arndt didn’t record a touchdown.
His favourite receiver, once again, was Kurleigh Gittens Jr., who made six receptions for a total of 70 yards.
The Golden Hawks were only able to muster one touchdown — a Levondre Gordon run — the entire game. The remaining 13 points came off the foot of Mesher, who finished the day 4-for-6. His longest was 27 yards.
On the other side, Jackson White, a former Jacob Hespeler Secondary School student, went 16-for-38 for a total of 160 yards against a tough Golden Hawks backfield. White also threw two picks — one to Godfrey Onyeka and another to Scott Hunter.
Knevel is expected to make his return to the lineup on Saturday against Western.
The 110th edition of the Yates Cup will mark the 15th time Western and Laurier have met in the Ontario championship.
The game takes place Saturday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. at TD Stadium in London.