The McMaster Marauders are headed to the Vanier Cup for the second straight season after beating the Calgary Dinos on Saturday by a score of 45-6. The Nov. 17 Mitchell Bowl at Ron Joyce Stadium in Hamilton marked the first ever meeting between the two teams.
A crowd of 5,442 packed the stadium to watch one of the most anticipated matchups of the year in the CIS.
Mac’s quarterback Kyle Quinlan took over the game in the first half despite struggling early, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and throwing another to receiver Bradley Fochesato for 61 yards. After two frames, the Marauders were up 24-4 over the Hardy Cup champion from the west.
The visiting Dinos racked up a costly 97 yards of penalties in the first half, which helped Mac sustain drives and get into good scoring position.
The Marauders defense neutralized the nation’s number-one offense, holding Calgary to their lowest halftime point total of the season.
In the second half, the Marauders extended their lead early. Quinlan scored his third rushing touchdown to make the score 31-4 with 11:49 left in the third quarter.
From that point, Mac never looked back. “When this team goes all out, they are pretty good,” said head coach Stefan Ptaszek of his team’s performance.
Receiver Robert Babic had a strong third quarter, catching the ball six times for 95 yards in the frame. Babic added a 31-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for his ninth catch of the game, making the score 38-4. He would finish with an outstanding 10 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown.
Drive after drive, Calgary could not seem to penetrate the home team’s defense. On the other side of the ball, the Dinos could not stop Kyle Quinlan and the McMaster air attack. “The guys were doing the little things and it came together as a full team effort offensively,” said Quinlan.
With the Laval Rouge et Or winning the Uteck Bowl by a score of 42-7 earlier in the day, it looked as though a rematch of the 2011 Vanier Cup final was inevitable.
The 13th man was alive and well for the Marauders as the Ron Joyce crowd made constant noise.
Both quarterbacks in the Mitchell Bowl game are candidates for the Hec Creighton trophy, awarded yearly to the most outstanding player in the CIS.
Calgary’s Eric Dzwilewski finished 10 of 21. Quinlan, who will be taking his team to a second straight Vanier Cup game, with one of his best games of the season, completed 25 of 35 passes for 412 yards, three TDs. Quinlan also added 50 more yards and three scores on the ground.
“He is one of the best I have ever seen at this level, he does it so many different ways. The bigger the game, the better he plays. That has been his entire career – not just once or twice. He comes up big in the biggest stages,” said Ptaszek of his senior pivot.
For the quarterback, and numerous other Marauders, Saturday was their last game on the turf of Ron Joyce. There could be no better ending to that chapter. “It is a pretty special program; we talked about this being our last game at Ron Joyce for a lot of our senior guys. We came in and this was a brand new stadium and this program has grown so much. It is pretty special to send it off that way for sure,” said Quinlan after the game.
By the time all was said and done, McMaster had crushed the Dinos, not allowing a single touchdown while scoring six times, extending their winning streak to 21.
Only Laval, St. Mary’s and Western have ever consecutively repeated as national champions, and the Marauders have a chance to join that exclusive company next week.
The 48th Vanier Cup will be played on Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The game will be a rematch of the 2011 final between the Laval Rouge et Or and the McMaster Marauders. Last year, Mac won in double overtime by a score of 41-38.