By Michael Grobe
The No. 4 McMaster Marauders will battle the No. 2 Western Mustangs in the 112th Yates Cup, as they took down the No. 3 Guelph Gryphons 19-9 in their OUA semifinal football game at Ron Joyce Stadium on Saturday.
Quarterback Andreas Dueck led the Marauders by dashing for a touchdown and tossing another to send McMaster to its 11th Yates Cup appearance. Dueck finished 17 for 32, passing for 216 yards and rushing for another 89 on the ground.
With Guelph leading 7-5 coming out of halftime, McMaster’s offence started to click and converted two touchdowns on their first three drives of the half to break the game open. Dueck showed his mobility in the first of those, taking the ball himself and running up the middle untouched for a 55-yard score.
Two McMaster drives later, the Marauders extracted a touchdown on a 12-play, 90-yard drive, using up seven minutes and 10 seconds of clock time. Blake Reason capped that drive on a 24-yard pass from Dueck.
“We were able to have some big plays in the first half and we just couldn’t string it together,” said Dueck. “In the second half we just put it all together and you need to make a couple key drives that turn out our way. “Execution [in the second half] was better.”
In the fourth quarter, the Gryphons efforts to mount a comeback were denied by key defensive stands by the Marauders. With just over two minutes remaining in the quarter, the Marauders defence stopped Guelph on third and goal, with Nate Edwards stuffing quarterback Theo Landers inches from the goal line.
On Guelph’s next drive, Edwards sacked Landers for an 11-yard loss, and two plays later, Lucas Bill iced the game with his second interception of the game to send the Marauders to the Yates Cup.
Overall, McMaster’s defence finished with three sacks and two interceptions.
Head coach Stef Ptaszek lauded Guelph as a tough opponent, and it took time to break open the game as Mac’s defence continued to play the shutdown role.
“A couple of big plays and finishing a few drives in that third quarter greased the wheels a bit,” said Ptaszek. “Our defence has been championship calibre since week one and this game was no different.”
McMaster’s defence held Guelph to just 262 total offensive yards, limiting their passing game to just 142 yards while their rushing game gained 122.
Guelph held a 7-5 lead at halftime with Gryphon Juwan Jeffrey punching in a two-yard run to take the lead. Prior to that, Adam Preocanin drained a 31-yard field goal and the Marauders added two points through a safety.
NEXT UP: McMaster will travel to London to battle the Western Mustangs for the 112th Yates Cup. It will mark only the second time that McMaster and Western have played off against each other for the OUA title; the first meeting was in 2011 when McMaster defeated Western 41-19 en route to their first Vanier Cup title.