The York University Lions football team fell to the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks by a score of 38-21 in their season opener on Sunday afternoon at York Stadium.
The Lions showcased multiple offensive looks by utilizing all three quarterbacks on the roster. Jahmari Bennett started the game behind centre, followed by appearances by first-year pivots Brett Hunchak and Eric Kimmerly. Hunchak had an impressive debut, going 3-3 with a 55-yard touchdown strike to fellow freshman Nathaniel Pinto. Hunchak displayed poise in the pocket and worked efficiently leading the squad down the field.
Bennett played the majority of the game, going eight-of-21 for 70 yards and an interception. He was much more dangerous on the ground, rushing for 88 yards on seven carries, including a 21-yard touchdown.
Pinto was tremendous in his debut game with the Lions, catching seven passes for 108 yards and the touchdown.
The first quarter remained scoreless until the very end, when Laurier finally broke the deadlock with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Eric Morelli to Greg Nyhof for a 7-0 lead. The Golden Hawks extended it to 14-0 early in the second on a 43-yard touchdown by Zeph Fraser, but less than five minutes later Hunchak’s bomb to Pinto cut the lead to 14-7.
Laurier pushed the lead to 14 once again on an interception return by Malcolm Thompson, and added a field goal before the half for a 24-7 lead.
Marcus Arakarakas added a six-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter before the touchdown runs by Bennett and Kimmerly cut the deficit to 31-21. That was as close as they would get, however, as Morelli ran in a 27-yard score with three minutes remaining for the last points of the contest.
Kimmerly went four-of-six for 43 yards and a rushing touchdown, and revealed that he could be a running threat.
There is no lack of receiving talent on the Lions, and in addition to Pinto, second-year receiver Joey Ricottone was also a consistent option, catching six balls for 51 yards.
Kicker Nick Naylor consistently locked Laurier deep into their own territory, placing three punts inside the 20-yard line and going perfect on extra point attempts.
For Laurier, Morelli finished strong at 19-of-28 for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Reigning Ontario University Athletics most valuable player Dillon Campbell was contained on the afternoon with 20 rushes for 116 yards.
The Lions are back on the gridiron on Monday, Sept. 7, at 7pm against the Western Mustangs in London, Ont. They will be back home for their highly anticipated Homecoming game against the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 1pm.