OUA Semifinal 2 Preview: Laurier Golden Hawks vs. McMaster Marauders

OUA Semifinal 2
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The dust has settled, and only four remain: The Western Mustangs, the McMaster Marauders, the Carleton Ravens, and the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks. The Marauders beat the Guelph Gryphons 18-11, earning a date with the Golden Hawks, while the Ravens defeated the Ottawa Gee-Gees in a rematch of the Panda Game. This OUA Semifinal 2 preview features the Golden Hawks and the Marauders.

OUA semifinal 2: Marauders try to turn the tables vs. Golden Hawks

This is the first time the two teams have faced each other this season. The Marauders, coming off of a close-call victory against the Guelph Gryphons, are looking to win their fourth Yates Cup in 6 years. The last time these two teams played each other in the playoffs was last year’s OUA quarter-finals, where the Hawks won 29-15. Meanwhile, the Hawks finished the year 7-1, their best finish since 2007, and are hosting their first playoff game since 2010.

Here are the keys to the game.

Keys to the Game

A defensive battle — This matchup sports the top two defences in the OUA, with the Marauders finishing the season with 10.9 points allowed, while the Golden Hawks allowed only 15.8 points per game. The Marauders led the OUA with 17 interceptions, while the Hawks defence finished the year with 36 sacks. With both teams sporting stout defences, the game could be decided on what offence can break through first. This could also mean that the match could remain a low-scoring affair.

Shutting down the run game — It is no secret that Laurier likes to run the ball, with five running backs on their depth chart. Leading the frontal attack is running back Eric Guiltinan, who rushed for 736 yards in seven games played this season. If McMaster looks to book a Yates Cup berth, they’re going to have to find an answer to the Hawks’ relentless running game, and force them to utilize the air game more. Laurier led the OUA in rushing yards with 2,251, which included 21 touchdowns, while the Marauders rushed for only 1,322 yards. Expect the run game to be a major factor coming in to this matchup.

Quarterback duel — McMaster main pivot Asher Hastings had a quieter season, albeit not breaking any records, he still passed for 1,915 yards on 150 completions with 233 attempts. He averaged 239.4 yards per game, and scored 11 touchdowns with five interceptions. On the other side of the ball, Laurier starting quarterback Michael Knevel grew into the role, replacing former starter Julien John. Knevel threw for 1,421 yards over 80 completions, with 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. While Hastings relies more on the air game, Knevel relies more on the ground game. With this in mind, expect the game to come down to situational plays in order to effectively move the ball.

Game time is at 1p.m. at University Stadium.

Main photo courtesy of Drew Yates.