Volume 94, Issue 19
Laurier defeats Western
©Photo by Casey Lessard
By Joel Brown
Saturday's football match between Western and Wilfrid Laurier can best be described as a game of irony.
It is ironic that a team that has lived by the comeback sword had the same sword thrust into them, as the Golden Hawks scored the winning touchdown with two seconds left on the game clock and edged Western 38-37.
Golden Hawks quarterback Andrew Lane engineered the comeback on the strength of a series of completed passes, which ended with him squeezing a pass between two Western defenders and into the outstretched arms of receiver Matt Babel. Laurier kicker Ed Becker was then able to convert the single, which gave the Golden Hawks the win.
"We've finally got a monkey of our back," said Laurier head coach Rick Zmitch, whose team had not beat Western since 1996. "It was a very big victory for us. I'm so happy for the student-athletes who got to partake in this."
Despite his team usually being on the winning side of late-game heroics, Western head coach Larry Haylor was not disappointed with his team's inability to hold onto the led. "We're never surprised when a team with ability can make plays," Haylor said of the Golden Hawks. "Big players can make big plays and they've got a number of big players. I wish our guys could have made a big play instead, but we didn't.
"Our guys played very well," Haylor said. "It's important to distinguish this as a Laurier win and not a Western loss."
The game was a see-saw battle, as both teams took turns leading. Western had a 37-31 advantage with 1:14 seconds left, until Laurier received a punt after Western was unable to get a much needed first down.
Laurier's star of the game was runningback Justin Praamsma, who rushed 28 times for 157 yards breaking Laurier's career rushing record, which he was 147 yards shy of before the game.
"It was a goal that some set for me at the beginning of the season," he explained. "But stats don't mean shit to me. W's mean shit. Today was our game."
Western head coach Larry Haylor said it was important his defence face a running back like Praamsma, who despite his 5'7, 195 pound frame, has a great combination of strength and quickness. "Our guys realized that if they don't gang tackle him they won't get him at all."
Along with the strong running game of Laurier, Western defence had to contend with Laurier's solid passing. Lane completed 15 passes in 24 attempts for 244 yards. WideĞreceiver Andre Talbot compiled 175 yards on nine completions.
"Hopefully we'll learn from our mistakes," said Western wide-receiver Tim Hatfield. "This is a lesson we needed to be taught."
The Mustang offence was unable to convert their two second-half touchdowns, as they opted to try for the two-point convert instead of the single kick.
"It definitely made a difference," Haylor said. "You have to take that into account along with the two points we gave up [on a safety in the fourth quarter]. However, it's a game of risk and reward and we understood that."
Zmitch believes that it was good strategy on the part of Western. "[Haylor] was looking to get an advantage," he said. "If I was in his position I'd do the same thing myself."
Mike O'Brien had an off-game as a kicker, missing three of his five field goal attempts and punting for an unusually low 34-yard average. At quarterback O'Brien passed for 295 yards, bringing him to second place Western's all-time career passing list. Meanwhile, runningback Fabian Rayne had his best game this season rushing the ball 20 times for 95 yards.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000