Marauders charge out, hold off Guelph rally

Quarterback Kyle Quinlan (South Woodslee) and running back Joey Nemet (Burlington) combined for 545-yards of offence in the No. 9 McMaster Marauders 43-35 victory over the Guelph Gryphons at Ron Joyce Stadium on Thursday.

Quinlan threw for 365-yards completing 19 of 31 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Nemet rushed the ball for 180 yards on 23 carries with three touchdowns and added a TD from a reception to hold off a late surge by the visiting Gryphons in the Ontario University Athletics football contest.

The Marauders opened the scoring early with a three-yard touchdown run by Nemet. Four minutes later Nemet struck again rushing the ball 49-yards to the Guelph one-yard line and then found the end zone on the next play for his second major of the game.

McMaster would score once more in the quarter when Quinlan completed a 72-yard touchdown pass to Mike DiCroce (Hamilton) to score his first touchdown since returning from injury. The McMaster defense held the Gryphons scoreless in the first quarter giving the Marauders an early 21-0 advantage.

Guelph found the scoreboard midway through the second quarter when Jedd Gardner (Niagara Falls) returned a missed field goal attempt 129-yards for a touchdown. McMaster’s only points in the quarter came from a Guelph safety, and a 33-yard field goal from Tyler Crapigna (Ottawa) to give the hosts a 26-7 lead at halftime.

McMaster increased its lead to 26 points early in the third quarter when Quinlan connected on a 20-yard toss to Nemet. Two minutes later Nemet found himself in the end zone again, following a 66-yard rush, with a one-yard touchdown run to give the Marauders a commanding 40-7 lead.

As the game progressed, the Gryphons continued to adjust on offence, and began to cut into McMaster’s hefty lead. With less than two minutes left in the third quarter, Guelph quarterback Chris Rosetti (Mississauga) threw a 17-yard pass to Gardner and then connected with Dillon Dimitroff (Burlington) for the two-point conversion.

Down 40-15, Guelph scored again early in the fourth quarter with a touchdown reception from Dimitroff reducing the McMaster lead to 19 points.

The Marauders would only score three points in the final quarter on a Crapigna field goal and the Gryphons would find the end zone twice more.

Guelph got within eight points when Rossetti connected with Kevin Campbell (Pickering) on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 1:24 left in the game.

McMaster ran down the clock, but was forced to punt with 14 seconds left. On the ensuing play Guelph’s specials team attempted to block the Crapigna punt, but ended up knocking him down, and out of the game, with a serious injury. The referees choose to call the game with three seconds remaining on the clock.

DiCroce caught nine balls for 169-yards and a touchdown in his return for the Marauders. Steven Ventresca (Hamilton) led the defense with six solo tackles. Byron Metcalfe (Pickering) had five tackles and grabbed his fourth interception of the season putting him second in the league behind Guelph’s Jordan Duncan who grabbed his fifth pick of the year.

Rossetti finished 16 of 24 for 221 yards and three touchdowns for the Gryphons. He was also the top rusher with 65 yards on nine carries. Campbell was the top receiver with 79 yards on three receptions. Duncan led the defense with 8.5 tackles and an interception.

With the win, McMaster improved to 5-2 on the season and secured a home playoff date. Guelph fell to 3-3 and continues to battle for a spot in the post season.

McMaster returns to action Saturday, Oct. 16 when the Marauders travel to Varsity Centre in Toronto to take on the Varsity Blues. Kickoff is 1 p.m.

Notes: McMaster reached a single season attendance record at Ron Joyce Stadium with 17,563 fans for their four regular season home dates.