All it took was one afternoon, and both the Laurier Golden Hawks and Waterloo Warriors had their football seasons come crashing down.
We’ll start at University Stadium, where Laurier hosted its first playoff game since 2017, but fell to the Guelph Gryphons 31-18.
Despite the lopsided score, Laurier only trailed by five until Guelph scored two touchdowns with under five minutes to go.
“Just how I’m proud of how they battled,” Laurier coach Michael Faulds said post-game, “(Down) 17-0, it would be very easy to turtle and it would get really out of hand. The way we battled made it 17-9 going into the half, and we felt really good, we felt like we had momentum.”
Guelph took an early 7-0 lead, and extended that by blocking a punt and recovering the ball in the end zone. The lead went to 17 on the first play of the second quarter.
But credit Laurier for clawing back into it. Quentin Scott would run in the first of his two touchdowns on the afternoon, and Laurier even pulled out the trickery with a Philly Special on the two-point convert to close the gap to eight points going into the locker room.
Into the third quarter, as Faulds detailed, the Hawks couldn’t muster a drive like they finished the second quarter with.
“It would’ve been nice to come out with a nice drive, and at some point take the lead,” he said, “When we recovered the punt fumble on the 10-yard line, I thought ‘here’s our chance, here’s our break,’ and unfortunately we had to settle for a field goal.”
That field goal made it 17-12 with 4:21 left in the third. The two sides would go scoreless until Guelph’s late touchdowns sealed the deal, despite Scott running in a Laurier touchdown to round out the scoring.
Scott, the first year running back, had quite the day. He finished with 162 yards on 27 carries and the two touchdowns.
“He’s going to have a really bright future,” Faulds said of the youngster, “He’s kind of a super rookie we were excited about. We’re kind of a running back by committee all year, and in practice every day, we were seeing there was something special in Quentin so we gave him the nod today and he made the most of it.”
“Credit to the O-line and full backs for doing a good job blocking but Quentin did a lot on his own too He’s special.”
Carusello was 14-for-31, threw for 194 yards, no touchdowns and his lone interception came at the end of the game.
“I’m pleased, like all teams, having not played the previous year, a lot of new faces, obviously we battled injuries,” Faulds said, “So proud of Connor Carusello. Knocked out in the first game, missed a couple games and he was battling injuries even when he was in there the second half of the year.”
“Just proud of our guys. At this time, it’s really reflecting on our fifth year seniors, thinking of Christian Hutter-Coppin and Cal Taylor, Ente Eguavoen played his last game today in the purple and gold. And our fearless leader, local guy Will Amoah played his last game.”
“He’s been here six, seven years and so proud of him.”
Shawn Lal threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns in the Guelph win.
The Gryphons move on to face the Western Mustangs in the OUA semifinal, after Western took down the Waterloo Warriors 51-24 in London.
Waterloo went toe-to-toe with the OUA West’s best early on, and had a 17-14 lead going into the second quarter.
But Western piled on with 23 points in the second quarter to lead 37-24 at halftime, and were able to keep the Warriors off the score sheet in the second half.
This sets up a rematch of Week 2 next week, as Guelph will visit Western in the OUA semifinal.
Guelph handed Western its first and only defeat of the year, 23-21 on September 25.
The other OUA semifinal will see Queen’s host Ottawa, after the Gaels beat Carleton 41-14 and the Gee Gees knocked off the Toronto Varsity Blues 27-17.