Mac plays it “safe” in pre-season football

With weather from tropical storm Irene looming over Peps Stadium on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 28) McMaster and Laval met for the first time since the 2003 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Mitchell Bowl game. With starting kicker Tyler Crapigna (Ottawa) unavailable due to injury, the Marauders would concede five safeties to Laval for 10 points in the 24-10 Rouge et Or pre-season victory.

The game got off to a slow start with a scoreless first quarter. McMaster had 112 yards of total offence to Laval’s 34 in the first period, but wouldn’t open the scoring until 12:28 left in the second. Mac’s defence kept the Rouge et Or pinned deep in their own end zone forcing Laval to concede a safety giving the Marauders a 2-0 lead.

Starting defensive back Stephen Dennis (Burlington), kicking in place of Crapigna, missed a field goal for a rouge to add to the McMaster lead. Laval would get on the scoreboard with 2:58 left in the half on the first of the five conceded McMaster safeties.

Linebacker Ben D’Aguilar (Hamilton) forced a fumble with 2:20 left in the half to give the Marauders great field position. Kyle Quinlan (South Woodslee, Ont.) would take full advantage connecting with Mike DiCroce (Hamilton) on a 25-yard pass to score the only McMaster touchdown. Dennis added the convert and Mac led 10-2.

Laval responded with a 31-yard Boris Bede (Toulon, France) field goal with 48 seconds left in the half to cut the McMaster advantage to 10-5 heading into the locker room.

The Marauders finished the half with 205 yards of total offence on 13 first downs to Laval’s 87 yards and four first downs.

Quinlan was 7-of-14 on passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in his only half of work. He was also the top rusher for the Marauders scampering five times for 42 yards.

As the two teams introduced reserves in the second half, Laval would start to show its depth. McMaster conceded a safety to make it 10-7 with 12:29 left in the third and then conceded another safety at 7:18 to cut their lead to 10-9. The McMaster defence held Laval to a field goal attempt which they missed for the rouge to tie the game at 10-10 heading into the fourth.

A 21-yard Maxime Boudreau (Matane, Que.) field goal would give Laval its first lead of the afternoon, 12-10. After another conceded McMaster safety and the weather continuing to deteriorate Laval would score its first touch on a one-yard Pascal Lochard (Montréal, Que.) run converted by Bede to give them a 22-10 lead. Another McMaster conceded safety would conclude the scoring for the afternoon.

McMaster head coach Stefan Ptaszek commented, “the Marauders have had a very productive weekend in Quebec City. Practising and playing the defending Vanier Cup champions has been a tremendous learning experience for our entire organization. We will work hard to leverage this experience to ensure we are ready for whatever Ontario University Athletics has to offer in 2011.”

Backup quarterback Marshall Ferguson (Kingston) also completed 7 of 14 passes for 64 yards for McMaster. DiCroce was the top receiver catching three balls for 48 yards and the touchdown. Jimmy Hill (Hamilton) carried the ball seven times for 30 yards. On defence, rookie Aram Eisho (Hamilton) was the top tackler with four solo tackles, and three assisted tackles for a combined total of 5.5.

Quarterback Tristan Grenon (Québec) came off the bench for Laval to complete six of 11 passes for 121 yards. Sébastien Lévesque (Brossard, Que.) was the top rusher for the Rouge et Or with 67 yards on 13 carries.

Maxime Boutin (Québec) made two receptions for 48 yards to lead the Laval receivers. The top tackler for Laval was Mohamed Zerbo (Montréal, Que.) with four solo and five assisted tackles for a 6.5 total.

McMaster opens the OUA conference season on Labour Day, Monday, Sept. 5 when they travel Kingston to take on the Queen’s Gaels at 2 p.m.