The No. 10 McMaster Marauders held on for a 32-29 victory over the Guelph Gryphons before a homecoming crowd of 5,348 at Ron Joyce Stadium on Saturday.
In an Ontario University Athletics game of contrasts, the Marauders dominated the first half, leading the Gryphons 419-121 in total offence and building a 29-7 halftime lead. The second half saw the Gryphons offence regroup, climaxing both of its third-quarter drives with touchdowns, and capitalizing on McMaster miscues in the fourth quarter to draw to within three points.
Marauder quarterback Kyle Quinlan (South Woodslea, Ont.) completed 17 of 26 passes for 284 yards, throwing three touchdowns and one interception. First-year Marauder receiver Michael Dicroce (Hamilton) accounted for 121 of those yards on five receptions, while slotback Kevin D’Hollander (London) was at the receiving end of two touchdown plays, making five receptions for 34 yards.
On the ground for McMaster, Joseph Nemet (Burlington) had 127 yards on 13 carries, followed by Jordan Kozina (Brantford) with 16 rushes for 102 yards.
Quinlan shared the Mark Timpany Memorial Trophy with D’Hollander as the MVP of McMaster’s homecoming game, presented to the co-winners by 13-year-old Mark Timpany Jr., the grandson of the award’s namesake, Trevor Mark Timpany.
For the Gryphons, running back Nick FitzGibbon (Puslinch) accounted for all four of Guelph’s touchdowns, also amassing 61 yards on 10 rushes and an additional 70 yards on five pass receptions. Guelph quarterback Justin Dunk (Guelph) completed 21 of 31 attempts for 243 yards, launching two touchdowns and no interceptions. Dunk was also the leading Guelph rusher, boasting 76 yards on 10 carries.
McMaster ended the game with 554 yards of total offence, while Guelph tallied 351 yards.
McMaster finishes the 2009 regular season with a 6-2 record, good for fifth place in the OUA. The Gryphons fall to 3-5, and finish in sixth place. The Marauders will travel to Ottawa on Oct. 31 to face the fourth-place Ottawa Gee-Gees (1 p.m.), while the Gryphons will visit London to play the third-place Western Mustangs (1 p.m.).
The Marauders opened the scoring on their second possession of the afternoon, capping an eight-play, 102-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown strike from Quinlan to D’Hollander. On Mac’s next possession, Quinlan connected with Kozina for a four-yard major, giving the hosts a 13-0 advantage after the first quarter.
After surrendering a safety touch in the opening minutes of the second frame, the Gryphons got onto the scoreboard at the 5:25 mark with a two-yard rushing major by FitzGibbon, closing McMaster’s lead to 15-7.
Pinned at their own one-yard line by the subsequent kickoff, the Marauders got instant breathing room with a 61-yard reception from Matthew Peressini (Hannon), extended 15 yards by a Guelph unnecessary roughness penalty. Quinlan soon capitalized on the long gain, carrying in a one-yard touchdown to climax the drive, and adding a further six points with a second touchdown toss to D’Hollander in the dying seconds of the half, giving McMaster a 29-7 lead going into the intermission.
Guelph took command of the third quarter, opening the half with a pair of sustained drives, each finishing with FitzGibbon touchdowns.
Andrew Waugh gave McMaster its sole second-half points with a 24-yard field goal.
The visitors capitalized on a botched punt late in the fourth quarter, launching a quick two-play drive that ended with Dunk firing a 20-yard touchdown pass to FitzGibbon. A successful two-point convert pass from Dunk to Jedd Gardner (Niagara Falls) narrowed McMaster’s lead to three points. Soon after, Gryphon defensive back Mark Durigon (Rockwood) intercepted a Quinlan pass, once again threatening the Marauder lead.
McMaster’s defence fortified itself to force a Guelph turnover on downs in the final minute of play.