This time there would be no late game heroics from the Guelph Gryphons.
The McMaster Marauders, playing with the poise and precision befitting Canada’s top-rated football outfit, took advantage of some sloppy Guelph play early in the contest to carve out a 30-13 victory on Saturday for their second consecutive Yates Cup championship.
It was a blustery and cool afternoon at Ron Joyce Stadium but it did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the capacity gathering of just over 5,400. The fans celebrated as the defending national champion remained undefeated this season (10-0) in Ontario University Athletics while rolling to their 20th consecutive victory.
Early turnovers proved costly to the Gryphons, who coughed up the ball three times in the first half, allowing the Marauders to secure a 23-10 lead.
Unlike last week, when the fifth-ranked Gryphons overcame a 22-point disadvantage in the fourth quarter to record a 42-39 overtime victory over Queen’s in an OUA semi-final, there would be no dramatic comebacks for Guelph.
A solid defensive effort by the Marauders saw to that as McMaster came up with timely big plays to overcome a plucky Guelph outfit.
Guelph counted 82 offensive plays compared to 56 for the Marauders but were undone by the miscues.
“They got backed up a couple times and forced a couple field goals deep inside the ten,” McMaster coach Stephan Ptaszek said. “Those are huge saves of points. They created some turnovers when they were backed up.
“If Guelph had scored seven every time they got inside the 25 this would have been a very close football game. Bend and not break helped us out a lot.”
A one-yard TD plunge by halfback Kasean Davis gave the Marauders a 30-10 cushion at 4:44 of the third quarter.
The best Guelph could manager after that was a 16-yard field goal by Daniel Ferraro before the quarter ended.
Guelph’s chances ended in the fourth quarter when Lindsey served up his third interception of the game to Steven Ventresca at the McMaster 27.
“This is a good defence and they bring a lot of pressure,” said Lindsey, who was 29 of 47 for 319 yards with the three interceptions the key blemish on his performance. “Like the first time we played them mistakes hurt us.”
Guelph’s failure to protect the football put them in a deep hole in the opening half, turning over the ball on successive offensive series late in the first quarter that directly led to 10 points, as McMaster opened up a 19-3 lead.
Guelph actually led 3-0 on a 12-yard field goal by Julian Tropea on the Gryphons’ first offensive series.
After that it was all McMaster who put up 23 unanswered points before the Gryphons would score their first touchdown.
After a Guelph safety, one of three the Gryphons surrendered in the first half, Kyle Quinlan directed McMaster on a 75-yard TD drive that culminated in a two-yard TD catch by Robert Babic.
An interception by McMaster’s Scott Martin and a late-hit infraction at the end of the play provided the Marauders with a first down at the Guelph 15-yard line.
McMaster wound up settling for a 20-yard field goal by Tyler Crapigna for a 12-3 Mac advantage.
A Kareem Ferreira fumble recovery late in the first quarter set up McMaster’s second TD of the game, a 21-yard TD reception by Tyler Loveday early in the second.
With Mac leading 21-3, the Gryphons put together an impressive 13-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard TD plunge on third down by Jazz Lindsey that cut the lead to 23-10 at the half.
The victory advances McMaster into next Saturday’s Mitchell Bowl against the Calgary Dinos who beat Regina 38-14 in Saturday's Canada West final, The Hardy Cup.
No. 2 Laval 40, No. 10 Sherbrooke 17
At Quebec City, the Rouge et Or jumped to a 16-0 lead seven minutes into the game and never looked back en route to their 16th straight win over Sherbrooke since the Vert & Or joined the RSEQ league in 2003.
Sherbrooke cut the deficit to 16-10 midway through the second quarter but the locals responded with two quick touchdowns to go into the halftime break with a comfortable 30-10 cushion, to the delight of the capacity crowd of 14,914.
As expected, Laval dominated on the ground with 309 rushing yards to Sherbrooke’s 32. Maxime Boutin, with 119 yards on only six carries, and Guillaume Bourassa, with 19 rushes for 112 yards and a TD, both went over the century mark.
Rouge et Or quarterback Tristan Grenon completed 10-of-20 passes for 131 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also scored on a pair of one-yard plunges.
For Sherbrooke, the duo of Jeremi Roch and Sebastien Blanchard put up impressive numbers in the losing cause. Roch was 28 of 48 for 306 yards, one score and two picks, while Blanchard caught 12 balls for 182 yards.
No. 9 Acadia 17, Saint Mary's 9
At Wolfville, N.S., the Axemen got all they could handle from Saint Mary’s but a remarkable defensive performance lifted them to their second straight AUS final win over the Huskies, in front of 2,678 fans. Acadia prevailed 39-20 in last year’s Loney Bowl.
Holding on to a slim 10-9 lead with less than seven minutes remaining, the Axemen sealed the win with two late safeties and a 28-yard Ryan Begin field goal with 52 seconds left on the clock.
Amazingly, Acadia’s defence allowed only one passing completion all afternoon, for a loss of five yards. Saint Mary’s finished with 97 yards of total offence and only nine first downs, including three on penalties.
Reigning two-time AUS MVP Kyle Graves was a modest 10 of 24 for 110 yards, one touchdown and one interception but the Axemen received a 181-yard rushing effort from conference rookie of the year Thomas Troop.
Jesse St. James led the way on defence with seven tackles, including 5.5 for losses and a pair of sacks, as well as a fumble recovery. Drew Morris had a game-high 10.5 tackles.
No. 3 Calgary 38, No. 7 Regina 14
At Calgary, conference MVP Eric Dzwilewski passed for 381 yards and running back Steven Lumbala rushed 22 times for 251 yards as the Dinos broke open a close game in the third quarter en route to their-record setting fifth straight Hardy Cup victory.
Calgary’s Jake Harty set a Canada West record for a playoff game with 15 receptions, good for 168 yards. His 15 catches rank second on the CIS post-season list, one short of the national mark.
Dzwilewski completed 33 of 46 passes, including a 35-yard touchdown strike to Richard Snyder, but was intercepted three times. The third-year quarterback added a pair of rushing TDs, both from one yard out.
The contest was closer than the final score would indicate. Regina took a 14-11 lead midway through the third quarter but Calgary closed out the affair with 27 unanswered points.
Playing in his final university game, senior QB Marc Mueller went 26-of-40 for 316 yards, one score and one interception for the Rams. Landon Buch was on the receiving end of seven of his passes and finished with 144 yards.
With reports from The Canadian Press