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(Photo Credit: Kha Vo)
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PREVIEW: No. 6 MFOOT hosts Carleton
WATERLOO, Ont. (Sept. 7, 2017) — Following their bye week, the No. 6 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team (1-0) will host the Carleton Ravens (1-1) Saturday night to cap off Laurier’s Orientation Week. 

Game Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m.
Game Location: University Stadium, Waterloo
Radio: AM 570 NEWS
Live Webcast/Stats: OUA.tv
Live Audiocast: RadioLaurier, 570news
Tickets: laurier.universitytickets.com

THE SKINNY
After shutting out the Toronto Varsity Blues 39-0 on Aug. 27, the Golden Hawks are looking to improve to 2-0 after their early-season week off. The Ravens, who finished 6-2 and made the OUA semifinal last year, opened their season with a 22-17 road win over the Queen’s Gaels before dropping their home opener last Sunday, 23-9 to the McMaster Marauders. 

NEED TO KNOW
- Saturday’s game features two of the best rushing attacks in the country. Last season, Laurier finished first in U Sports in rushing yards per game while Carleton finished third. Laurier put up 154 yards on the ground in week one versus Toronto while Carleton is averaging 146.5 rush yards/game in their first two contests of 2017. 

- Both teams have seen key contributors from last year move on to the CFL. For Laurier, defensive end Kwaku Boateng and linebacker Nakas Onyeka are having solid rookie seasons for the Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts, respectively. Meanwhile former Ravens receiver Nate Behar also stuck with Edmonton while defensive back/returner Tunde Adeleke is now with the Calgary Stampeders. 

-The Hawks’ win over Toronto extended their home winning streak to six games after they went 5-0 at University Stadium last season (including playoffs). 

ALL-TIME SERIES
The Golden Hawks are 2-0 versus Carleton since the Ravens returned to U Sports in 2013. The purple and gold took the latest meeting between the two teams 17-16 in Ottawa on Sept. 17 of last season. Overall, Laurier holds a 6-2-1 record against Carleton, with the Ravens most recent win over the Hawks coming back in 1965; all seven Laurier-Carleton match-ups prior to 2013 took place between 1963 and 1970.

TEAM BREAKDOWN 
Laurier Golden Hawks 

The Golden Hawks were firing on all cylinders in their season opener versus Toronto. The offence racked up over 500 net yards while the defence not only shut out the Blues, but held them to just 113 yards of total offence. 

Quarterback Michael Knevel (Brantford, Ont.) put up a career-high 341 yards in week one, connecting with third-year Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (Ottawa, Ont.) nine times for 110 yards. 

On the ground, third-year Levondre Gordon (Mississauga, Ont.) was the Hawks’ leading rusher versus Toronto and should figure prominently in the offence along with backfield compatriot Osayi Iginuan (Hamilton, Ont.). Former Carleton running back Jahvari Bennett (Mississauga, Ont.), who had a 1,000-yard season for the Ravens in 2015, will make his Golden Hawks’ debut Saturday after transferring to Laurier. 

The Hawks will be hoping for another big performance from its defence, which racked up three sacks against Toronto led by Laurier’s defensive player of the week Rashari Henry (Ottawa, Ont.) who had a sack and two tackles that went for losses. 

The Laurier defence was smothering against Toronto, only allowing nine completed passes all game. Leading the way in the secondary were fourth-years Godfrey Onyeka (Brampton, Ont.) — recently ranked No. 4 on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top prospects list — and Isaiah Guzylak-Messam (Hamilton, Ont.), who combined for three knockdowns and 10 tackles.

Nathan Mesher (Waterloo, Ont.) went 3/4 on field goals in week one, while Carson Ouellette (Windsor, Ont.) had a big day in the return game, racking up 114 punt-return yards. 

Carleton Ravens 

The Ravens have looked to a combination of red-shirt freshman Mike Arruda and second-year Giordy Belfiore to replace graduated quarterback Jesse Mills, who finished second in the OUA in passing yards last season. Arruda went 19/30 for 238 yards in Week 1 against Queen’s, but threw a pair of interceptions versus McMaster before splitting time with Belfiore. Despite Behar’s departure, the Ravens have a solid group of veteran receivers to lean on in fifth years Kyle VanWynsberghe, Dexter Brown and Wilson Birch plus third-year Phil Iloki.

In the ground game, Nathan Carter has been the feature back so far this season with 37 carries for 206 yards, almost equalling his totals in from all of last season. Jayde Rowe, who last year led the country in rushing yards, only saw nine carries in week one before not playing last week versus McMaster.  

The Ravens defence leads the country in sacks having already racked up 16 in their two games this season. Recently ranked No. 8 on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top prospects list, Kene Onyeka, brother of Laurier’s Godfrey Onyeka, already has four sacks himself, which is tied for most in the country. Fifth-year Leon Cenerini, the OUA’s leading tackler last season, anchors a talented linebacking corps.

With Adeleke now in the CFL, the Ravens lost one of the premiere returners in U Sports — he put up five return touchdowns last season and had nine in his career. Veteran Dexter Brown has taken over the primary kick return duties while kicker Micke Domagala is 3/5 on field goals this season and averaging more than 40 yards per punt after a solid season in both respects last year. 

EXTRA POINTS
-Saturday is Laurier’s annual O-Week game for first-year students. 

-Fans will have a chance to win tickets to the Golden Hawks Homecoming game Sept 30 versus Western at the Somersby Tailgate Party. 

Written By: Justin Fauteux
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