London, Ont. – McMaster quarterback Kyle Quinlan threw four touchdown passes to lift the Marauders to a 41-19 victory over the Western Mustangs in the 104th Yates Cup at TD Waterhouse Stadium. A crowd of 6,556 was on hand for the game.
Quinlan, from South Woodslee, Ont., captured the Dalt White Trophy as the game MVP, completing 16 of 24 passes for 275 yards. He was also a driving force in the McMaster ground game, amassing 103 yards on 10 carries.
McMaster posted just eight yards of net offence in the first quarter, but regrouped from its lacklustre start with a run of 34 unanswered points to claim its first Ontario University Athletics football title since 2003. The win also marked the first time that McMaster has won a Yates Cup on the road.
Marauder receiver and 2011 OUA MVP Michael DiCroce (Hamilton) led McMaster receivers with 128 yards on four receptions and a pair of touchdowns, including a 102-yard receiving major. Chris Pezzetta (Burlington) topped McMaster rushers with 145 yards on 19 carries, including one touchdown.
In the losing effort, Western’s Tyler Varga (Kitchener) the winner of the 2011 Norm Marshall Trophy as the OUA rookie of the year, gained 154 yards on 30 carries. Quarterback Donnie Marshall (London) threw for 187 yards, connecting on 14 of 27 attempts and a single touchdown.
Linebacker Aram Eisho (Hamilton) led the Marauders defenders with 9.5 tackles, including two tackles for a loss.
“I am awestruck at how well our defence played – they exceeded every expectation we had of them this game,” said a jubilant McMaster head coach, Stefan Ptaszek, celebrating his first Yates Cup banner as a head coach.
The first quarter saw Western failing to capitalize on numerous opportunities and a sluggish McMaster start. Mustang place kicker Lirim Hajrullahu (St. Catharines) missed two field goal attempts in the first quarter, his initial try being the victim of a bad hold, and the second being partly blocked by the McMaster line and rattling through the end zone for a single point. McMaster, which posted just a single first down in the opening frame, conceded a safety touch rather than punt into the wind from its own end zone, giving Western a 3-0 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The Marauder offence came to life in the second quarter, capping their first drive of the quarter with a 29-yard field goal by Teddy Peters (Mississauga). Pezzetta added a major score on a seven-yard rush to give McMaster a 10-3 advantage
McMaster’s defence made a dominating goal line stand with three minutes remaining in the quarter, stopping the Mustangs on three straight plays from within their three yard line and forcing a turnover. In the dying seconds of the half, Western had again driven the ball to the McMaster 16 yard line, but a 40-yard interception by McMaster defensive back Joey Cupido (Hamilton) again kept the Mustangs off the score sheet.
The Marauder offence dominated the second half, widening its lead with DiCroce’s 102-yard major and a 15-yard Peters field goal in the third quarter.
McMaster opened up a 34-3 lead the opening minutes of the final quarter with Quinlan finding, in succession, Robert Babic (Oakville) and Bradley Fochesato (Windsor) for a pair of touchdowns.
Largely unheard of since the first quarter, Western’s offence finally found the end zone at the 7:22 mark of the final frame, capping an eight-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard rushing score from Varga.
Quinlan and DiCroce connected for one final McMaster major in the final minutes of the game, followed by Donnie Marshall connecting with Zach Bull (Port Colborne) for a seven-yard touchdown at the 13:39 mark.
McMaster advances to the Canadian Interuniversity Sports semi-final Uteck Bowl, against the AUS-champion Acadia Axemen, Friday, Nov. 18 at Moncton, N.B.