Defence smothers Redmen in exhibition win

Photo: Kha Vo

Jamie Howieson
Laurier Athletics

MONTREAL – Buoyed by a strong defensive effort and a pair of late fourth quarter touchdowns, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team earned their first non-conference win under head coach Michael Faulds as they downed the McGill Redmen 33-9 on Friday night at Percival Molson Stadium.

The win improved Laurier’s record to 1-3 in preseason play since Faulds took over head coaching duties in 2013 after suffering defeats to Concordia, Montreal and Saskatchewan the last three seasons.

The story of the game was the Hawks’ defensive effort as they gave up just 124 yards of offence to the Redmen and holding them off the scoreboard in the second half when the game was still up for grabs.

Conversely, Laurier posted 518 yards of offence but failed to put the game out of reach until the final minutes of the fourth quarter due to 134 yards in penalties and five turnovers. Linebacker Mario Pinedaof Cambridge, Ont., and running back Kevin Wong of Mississauga, Ont., found the endzone inside the final three minutes to turn a 10-point lead into a convincing advantage.

– Despite limited playing time, reigning OUA MVP Kurleigh Gittens Jr. of Ottawa, looked in midseason form making four catches for 141 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown in the opening quarter
– nine different players ran the ball for Laurier in the game but none was more efficient than Wong who scored a 72-yard touchdown on his only touch of the night
– Robbie Smith of Brampton, Ont., also made an impact in limited playing time, registering three tackles, one sack and two tackles for a loss

–  running back Donovan Martel of Montreal, stood out for the Redmen as he had 64 yards on seven carries
– receiver Jeremy Sauvageau of St. Augustine-De-Desmaures, Que., had McGill’s lone touchdown of the contest, a 10-yard catch late in the second quarter

COACH’S QUOTES – Michael Faulds
Thoughts on overall performance in the first game action of the year
“I was really pleased after this game. We managed to get everyone into the game and came away with a big victory. What’s bigger than that is how much closer we are as a team after traveling on the road together to another province.”

On the play of the defence, in particular the defensive line
“I was very happy with the performance of the defensive front. All 10 defensive linemen got rotated into the game and all put extreme pressure on the quarterback. Their intensity led that defensive unit and made it tough on McGill’s offence all night.”

Addressing the mental mistakes
“In the first half the game was closer than it needed to be with all the penalties and turnovers. We will definitely look to clean that up in practice this week. Anytime you out-gain a team 518 yards to 124 yards you can’t give them life by turning the ball over and getting penalties.”

Laurier returns home to Waterloo to prepare for their regular season and home opener on Sunday, August 26 when they host the Ottawa Gee-Gees at University Stadium. The game will mark the first time the two teams have faced each other in almost three seasons with their last contest coming back in 2015, a 65-30 win for the purple and gold at Knight-Newbrough Field.

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