Marauders remain unbeaten in dramatic come-from-behind win

McMasterAfter narrowly defeating the Queen’s Gaels on the final play in their opening game of the 2010 season, the No. 10-ranked Marauders overcame a 20-point half time deficit, broke a nine-game losing streak against the No. 6 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, and scored a 26-24 upset win in front of 5630 fans on Monday afternoon at McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium.

The Ontario University Athletics win for the Marauders is the first against the Hawks since Nov. 8, 2003 when Laurier fell in the Yates Cup 41-17 at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Following an uneventful first quarter that saw Laurier ahead 3-0 on a rouge and safety, the Golden Hawks scored 19 unanswered points to take a 22-0 lead into half time. Laurier’s first touchdown came when quarterback Evan Pawliuk (Kingston) connected on a 33-yard pass to 2009 Canadian Interuniversity Sports first team all-Canadian Dillon Heap (Waterloo) The Golden Hawks then capitalized on a botched McMaster exchange from centre that was recovered and returned 60 yards by Giancarlo Rapanaro (Niagara Falls) for their second touchdown of the quarter.

The Golden Hawk defence had a solid first half only allowing 65 yards on 30 plays while the offence was able to capitalize with 211 yards on 31 plays.

However, McMaster regrouped coming out of the locker room for the second half. The Marauders outscored the Golden Hawks 26-4 in the remaining two quarters sparked by a 37-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Quinlan (South Woodslee, Ont.) to Michael DiCroce (Hamilton) to start their scoring run. First-year kicker Tyler Crapigna (Ottawa) continued his consistent booting adding a field goal to cut the lead by 10 points heading into the fourth.

As the game progressed, the Marauders continued to adjust on offence putting up a combined 329 yards of total offence to Laurier’s 146.

The final quarter proved to be a dramatic one. With McMaster still trailing by two touchdowns, the Marauders marched down field and a one-yard Joey Nemet (Burlington) touchdown run capped a seven-play 104 yard drive to cut the Laurier lead to 22-17. After Laurier conceded a safety, Quinlan concluded another long drive with a 14-yard touchdown run of his own to put McMaster ahead, 26-22, with 2:41 remaining in the contest.

Quinlan passed for 264 yards in the second half, finishing with 32 for 286 yards on the day.

For the second straight game it was the McMaster defence which had to secure the win in the dying seconds. With McMaster ahead by four and just over two minutes to play, Laurier put together a 13-play, 85-yard drive that had them sitting first and goal on the McMaster one yard line with 34 seconds to play. Anton Bennett (Toronto) looked like he had put the Golden Hawks ahead when he made a dive for the goal line, but he couldn’t hold on to the ball and McMaster linebacker Ryan Chmielewski (St. Catharines) came up with the fumble to essentially end the ball game.

DiCroce was key in the McMaster comeback finishing the afternoon with 151 yards on eight catches and a touchdown. Jordan Kozina (Brantford) finished with 10 carries for 61 yards and Joey Nemet had 13 carries for 58 yards on the ground. On defence, Roberto Filice (Stoney Creek) had 6.5 tackles and Byron Metcalfe (Pickering) had 5.5 tackles. In addition to the fumble recovery, Chmielewski had five tackles and an interception.

For Laurier, Pawliuk threw for 279 yards on 21 of 37 passing and a touchdown. Heap finished with six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Bennett was the top Laurier rusher with 53 yards on 16 carries. Daniel Bishop (Mississauga) led the Laurier defence with 7.5 tackles.

With the win, McMaster improved to 2-0 on the season and Laurier dropped to 0-2 for the first time since the 2002 season. After completing half of a four-game stretch that will see them play four top ten opponents, McMaster will enter week three of the season tied with No.5 Ottawa and Guelph for top spot in the OUA.

Next week McMaster will travel to London to face the 1-1 and No.9 Western Mustangs. The game will broadcast nationally on the Score and kickoff at 1 p.m. Laurier will host the Toronto Varsity Blues.