Courtesy of Michael Grobe (for McMaster Athletics / CIS)
November 17, 2012, HAMILTON (CIS) – The McMaster Marauders are going back to the Vanier Cup thanks to a 45-6 Mitchell Bowl victory over the visiting Calgary Dinos in the first-ever meeting between the two programs, Saturday evening, in front of a packed house of 5,442 at Ron Joyce Stadium.
The result sets up a rematch between top-ranked McMaster (11-0) and No. 2 Laval (11-1) Friday at 7:30 p.m., live on TSN and RDS from Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Rouge et Or defeated Acadia 42-7 earlier today in the Uteck Bowl in Quebec City.
A year ago in Vancouver, the Marauders edged Laval 41-38 in overtime to capture their first-ever CIS football title. They now hope to become only the fifth team in history to repeat as Vanier Cup champion after Manitoba (1969-1970), Western (1976-1977), Saint Mary’s (2001-2002) and Laval (2003-2004).
It will be only the second rematch in Vanier Cup history. Western beat Acadia in back-to-back CIS finals in 1976 and 1977.
Playing in his final game as a Marauder at Ron Joyce Stadium, fifth-year quarterback Kyle Quinlan resumed his playoff dominance. The Hec Crighton Trophy nominee, who a year ago was voted MVP of the Yates Cup, Uteck Bowl and Vanier Cup, was once again named player of the game after he accounted for six touchdowns, including three on the ground and as many through the air.
“The bigger the game the better he plays and that’s for his entire career. That’s not just once or twice,” said McMaster head coach Stefan Ptaszek, whose team has now won 21 straight games dating back to Week 3 of the 2011 schedule – a CIS record – and finally won the program’s first national semi-final at home after losses in 2000, 2002 and 2003. “He comes up big on the biggest stage.”
“It was wild,” said the OUA player of the year, who completed 25 of 35 passes for 412 yards and rushed 11 times for 50 yards. “There was a sense it might be a shootout if we do our job and two high scoring offences going head to head. Our defence shut that up pretty quickly.”
In a contest that featured the top two offences in the country, only one showed up. The Marauders, who ranked second behind the Dinos this season in points (47.5 to 45.6) and total yards per game (592.1 to 582.5), outgained their Canada West rivals 486 yards to 200 and had a 33-16 advantage in first downs.
McMaster led 7-3 after the opening quarter following a 37-yard field goal by Calgary kicker Johnny Mark and Quinlan’s first rushing major of the day on a one-yard plunge.
After the teams exchanged rouges early in the second frame, the Marauders built a comfortable 24-7 cushion by halftime thanks to a safety, another one-yard run by Quinlan and his first TD pass of the day, a 61-yard play to Brad Fochesato.
Quinlan all but put the game away three minutes into the third stanza with his third score on the ground, this time on 11 yards.
The talented pivot added TD passes of 31 yards to Robert Babic and 16 yards to Michael DiCroce in the final quarter, and Calgary rounded out the scoring with a late safety.
Babic was Quinlan’s favourite target with 10 receptions for 156 yards, while Fochesato hauled in four balls for 113 yards.
On defence, a pair of OUA award winners led the charge for the Marauders. Linebacker Aram Eisho, the conference’s defensive MVP, tallied a match-high 10 solo tackles, while end Ben D’Aguilar, who was voted the OUA’s top down lineman after he set a single-season CIS record with 12.5 sacks, added three to his resume against the Dinos.
Defensive back Steve Ventresca also contributed with nine tackles and two pass breakups. Joey Cupido was the lone Marauder to register an interception, which he returned on 49 yards late in the contest.
“Those kids were on the bit all day, we gave up things horizontally and nothing vertical,” said Ptaszek on his team’s defensive play. “[Calgary] were out of sorts all day. That’s a tribute to the game plan and the kids playing their hearts out.”
Calgary came undone in the second quarter committing eight penalties for a loss of 66 yards. In total, the Dinos were flagged 17 times for 127 yards.
“We spoke about penalties all year and it came back to bite us today,” said Calgary head coach Blake Nill. “Our defence came out strong but got worn out and the offence just couldn’t get it started today.”
Third-year quarterback Eric Dzwilewski, the Canada West player of the year, had a rough day at the office going 10-of-21 for 114 yards. Andrew Buckley took over late in the third quarter and was 10-of-15 for 66 yards with an interception.
Named CIS player of the week on offence after a 251-yard performance in last Saturday’s Canada West final, running back Steven Lumbala was held to 39 yards on 14 carries.
GAME NOTES: TSN’s pre-game coverage of the 48th Vanier Cup kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday… McMaster improved to 3-4 all-time in CIS football semi-finals, while Calgary dropped to 7-6… The Dinos were losing in the Mitchell Bowl for the second straight year after playing in back-to-back Vanier Cup finals – both losses – in 2009 and 2010… The Marauders are 1-1 in the Vanier Cup, including last year’s OT win over Laval and a 10-9 loss to Alberta back in 1967…