Lions lose heartbreaker to Golden Hawks

photo of 2 Lions football players doing a play

The York University Lions football team suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday, Sept. 15, falling by a score of 24-20 at University Stadium in Waterloo.

Running back Lance Freeman of Denver scored his second touchdown of the game with just over a minute remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Golden Hawks (1-2) their first victory of the season. The loss drops the Lions to 1-2, and both squads are now tied with the Toronto Varsity Blues for sixth place in the Ontario University Athletics standings.

Freeman, who finished the game with 100 total yards, ran in a 28-yard pass from back-photo of 2 Lions football players doing a playup quarterback Steve Fantham of London to give Laurier the win after York had taken a 20-17 lead just four minutes earlier.

The Lions earned their first lead of the game with 5:44 left in the fourth quarter on an interception by rookie defensive back Chris States of Brampton that was returned 22 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. He finished as the team’s top defender on the day with 4.5 tackles.

It was one of three interceptions thrown by Laurier starting quarterback Travis Eman of Brampton on the day. The other two were both picked off by another Lions rookie defensive back, Josh Small of Toronto. Small now has three interceptions on the year.

In what was a back-and-forth affair, the Hawks jumped out to a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter when quarterback Travis Eman of Brampton capped off an eight-play, 76-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run. The score was Eman’s first of his Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) career.

Laurier stretched their lead to 17-0 in the second quarter thanks to two quick scores. First, Ronnie Pfeffer of Kitchener connected on his first field goal of the year, a 26-yard boot, before Freeman ran in a 16-yard score two minutes later. The touchdown was also Freeman’s first of his CIS career.

As time expired in the half, York kicker Heneri Dervishi of Toronto, hit a 24-yard field goal to get the Lions on the board.

Down 17-3 entering the third quarter, the Lions continued to chip away at the lead. Dervishi hit his second field goal of the game just two minutes into the third after the Lions got the ball back on a fumble by Eman. On the final play of the quarter, York got the big play they needed to turn the momentum. Quarterback Myles Gibbon of Montreal, hooked up with Lashane Oldacre of Toronto, for an 81-yard major to cut the cut the Hawks lead to just four points. The score would remain 17-13 until States’ pick-six late in the fourth.

Gibbon finished the game with 274 yards on 11-of-27 completions, with one touchdown and one interception, that came on his final throw with time winding down. He also ran the ball 10 times for 43 yards.

Running back Kyle Exume of Whitby, the CIS offensive player of the week, was held to 67 yards on 18 carries.

Oldacre was the top receiver with 157 yards on just four catches, including the impressive 81-yard score. William Austin of St. Catharines continued his strong season with another four receptions for 93 yards.

Freeman was the Hawks all-around best offensive player on the day as he finished with a team-best 40 rushing yards, as well as 60 receiving yards. Fantham and Eman combined to throw for 242 passing yards, a season-high for Laurier.

The Lions will return home next Saturday for their annual Homecoming game, which will begin at 1pm at York Stadium. Their opponents are the Waterloo Warriors, who lost 47-17 to the Guelph Gryphons and are 0-3 on the year.