Marauders steal game from Gaels, advance to Yates Cup

A full house was on hand to watch the Marauders OUA semi-final win. (Photo: Ron Bernardo)

The McMaster Marauders advanced to the Ontario University Athletics Yates Cup Championship game for the first time since 2004, defeating the Queen’s Gaels, 40-13, in semi-final on Saturday (Nov. 5).

The No. 4 Marauders will face the No. 3 Western Mustangs in London for the Yates Cup title on Saturday, Nov. 12. Kickoff is 1 p.m. at Western’s TD Waterhouse Stadium. Western won the title last year.

The Marauders didn’t waste any time in the first quarter against Queen’s, scoring on the opening drive of the game. A 38-yard Kyle Quinlan (South Woodslee, Ont.) completion to Brad Fochesato (Windsor, Ont.) setup the Marauders first attempt in the red zone. Quinlan took full advantage running a bootleg after a fake handoff and crossed the goal-line for the six-yard touchdown run. It was the first rushing touchdown the Gaels defence had surrendered all season.

A Queen’s Gael becomes a sandwich. (Photo: Ron Bernardo)

Quinlan finished 14 of 23 for 214 yards with two passing touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed the ball nine times for 96 yards and a touchdown.

Gaels’ starting quarterback Ryan Mitchell (Toronto) wasn’t on his game in the first quarter as Porter Player of the Game Joey Cupido (Hamilton) intercepted Mitchell on his first pass of the day.

The first Cupido interception resulted in a Teddy Peters (Mississauga, Ont.) 29-yard field goal to give McMaster an early 10-0 lead. Peters was appearing in his first career Canadian Interuniversity Sports game replacing starting kicker Tyler Crapigna (Ottawa) who was unavailable due to an illness. Peters connected on both of his field goal attempts in the game.

The Marauders intercepted Mitchell five more times in the half with four by Cupido. His four interceptions set a McMaster record, and tied the CIS and OUA records for most interceptions in a game.

Cupido’s second interception set up a drive starting at the Queen’s 35 that Quinlan quickly converted into his second passing touchdown of the day. He found Chris Pezzetta for the nine-yard touchdown strike to cap the five-play drive.

The McMaster special teams also contributed. Backup quarterback Marshal Ferguson, handling the punting duties for the first time, completed a 13-yard pass to Tyler Loveday (Kitchener, Ont.) on a fake punt to keep the ensuing McMaster drive alive. Pezzetta found the end zone again, this time with his legs, carrying the ball four times for 35 yards after the fake. He capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.

With McMaster leading 23-3, Aram Eisho (Hamilton) picked off Mitchell and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown to increase the Marauder lead to 30-3.

Dan Village (Abbotsford, B.C.) hit a 30-yard field goal for the Gaels only points of the half.

In the third quarter, the Marauders fumbled the opening kickoff and the Gaels recovered. The Marauder defence would hold and Queen’s was forced to settle for another Village field goal.

The Marauders kept the pressure coming as Quinlan hit Michael DiCroce (Hamilton) for his second passing touchdown of the day making it 40-6. DiCroce finished with six catches for 103 yards and the touchdown. Combined with his three rushes, DiCroce led the Marauders in all-purpose yardage with 131 yards.

Ryan Granberg (Sherwood Park, Alta.) looked to spark a comeback giving the Gaels back-to-back first downs, pushing the ball deep into the Marauders’ end. Granberg would finish off the drive with a six-yard touchdown run making it 40-13 for McMaster and to finish the scoring.

(Photo: Ron Bernardo)

The Marauder defence had contributors on all fronts. Eisho was the top tackler with seven and his interception. Steven Ventresca (Hamilton) added the sixth Marauder interception of the ball game. He returned it 41 yards to setup Petter’s second field goal of the game from 33 yards.

Granberg was the Gaels most productive player on offence with 128 yards and the Gaels’ lone touchdown rushing on 20 carries. Mitchell finished with 143 yards on 15 completions. Chris Patrician (Toronto) was his favourite target with four catches and 69 yards. Frank Pankewich (Thunder Bay, Ont.) was the team’s top tackler with eight tackles and a sack.