WATERLOO, OM – Led by record-setting performances from Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and Nathan Mesher, the No. 7 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team kept their playoff hopes alive with a 39-24 victory over the Windsor Lancers in a School Day Game on Friday morning at University Stadium.
On a day in which the Golden Hawks recognized 17 graduating seniors in front of 4498 spectators, Laurier (4-3) outscored the visitors 24-5 in the second half to overcome a four-point halftime deficit as they temporarily moved into solo fifth in the OUA standings.
Needing a victory to remain in the playoff picture, Laurier came out strong and jumped out to a 13-0 lead thanks to a 36-yard touchdown run from Levondre Gordon of Mississauga, Ont., and a pair of field goals from Nathan Mesher of Waterloo, Ont.
However, Windsor turned the game around in the second quarter as they outscored the Hawks 19-5 thanks in part to touchdowns from Alex Bornais of Tecumseh, Ont., and Cody Knights of Aurora, Ont.
Needing a spark to turn the game back in the favour, Laurier got it in the form of touchdowns on back-to-back plays midway through the third quarter. Trailing 19-17, the Hawks retook the lead thanks to Kevin Wong’s (Mississauga, Ont.) first career touchdown, a 19-yard run midway through the frame.
On the ensuing kickoff, Max Sherwood’s (Hamilton) kick went deep into the endzone. Windsor’s David Adeniran of Hamilton, attempted to return the kick but was swarmed by Laurier defenders, fumbling the ball. It was scooped up by Esson Hamilton of Toronto to give the Hawks a 31-19 advantage.
From there, Laurier’s defence, and a pair of Mesher field goals, would seal the win as they recorded their second consecutive victory over Windsor.
ETCHED IN HISTORY
– with a reception late in the first quarter, Gittens Jr. overtook former Lancer Jordan Brescacin for the most career receptions in the OUA with the 193rd of his distinguished career. Gittens Jr. would finish the game with eight total receptions, making him just the fifth player in U SPORTS history to reach 200 receptions in a career
– Mesher moved into first on Laurier’s career scoring list with a 42-yard field goal late in the third quarter. He finished the game with 15 points, giving him 275 for his career, five more than former record holder Chris Mamo
– Mesher also tied Ronnie Pfeffer for the most field goals in a career in school history with 53 after a 4-for-4 performance against the Lancers
– Gordon finished the contest with 173 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries to lead Laurier’s offensive push, the third-most rushing yards in
a single game in his career
– Gittens Jr. led all players with 101 receiving yards for the contest
– Will Amoah of Kitchener, Ont., picked up his fourth interception of the season and also led the Hawks in tackles with seven
– quarterback Sam Girard of Amherstburg, Ont., finished the game 25-for-40 for 262 yards, two touchdowns and an interception
– linebacker Dan Stirling of Waterloo, Ont., led the Lancers defensive effort with eight tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup
IN THEIR WORDS – Michael Faulds
On the team’s second half performance
“Our season was on the line in the second half. We knew coming in that Windsor was a good football team and they gave us all we could handle. I’m proud of us for responding to adversity by winning the second half 24-5.”
On the careers of Gittens Jr. and Mesher
“It shows how consistent these guys have been throughout their careers. We really have some incredible seniors and I told the team that during the pregame speech today. When Kurleigh came to us as a 17-year-old from Ottawa, no one really knew that we would be playing with and coaching one of the greatest Golden Hawks ever. We’re all privileged to be around Kurleigh each and every day. And I’m super happy with how Nathan played today. After suffering an injury last week against Carleton, he responded really well today, making some key field goals despite the wind.”
On mind set going into final game of the season
“Our goal is to get to 5-3. Obviously Western is the best team in the conference and they proved that last year. However, for us to be the team we want to be we’re going to have to beat a team like Western. Whether it’s in the middle of November in the Yates Cup or whether it’s October 20th, if we want to be the Ontario champions we’re going to have to beat a team like that.”
The Hawks will head on the road for their final game of the 2018 regular season to take on the No. 1 Western Mustangs on Saturday, October 20 in a rematch of the last two Yates Cup finalists. Kick off is set for 1 p.m. at TD Stadium in London.