After ending the regular season with a rough 40-15 loss to the Laurier Golden Hawks on Oct. 2, the McMaster Marauders’ win against the Queen’s Gaels on Oct. 28 brought them back to Waterloo for the Ontario University Athletics semi-final game. And reminiscent of the last time, the Marauders’ playoff season was brought to an end with a disappointing 16-9 loss.
Thanks to an early 11-yard touchdown run by the Golden Hawks’ running back Levondre Gordon, Laurier made their presence known early. The No. 5 U Sports team’s defence stopped several attempts made by the Marauders’ offence. By the half, the 2016 OUA Rookie of the Year Adam Preocanin was able to kick Mac on to the scoreboard, bringing the game to 7-3.
The low-scoring game was courtesy of both teams’ defence, but Laurier was able to move the ball just enough for “No Pressure” Nathan Meshur to kick four good field goals. Despite another good kick from Preocanin, Mac was unable to close the gap in the score.
Along with struggling on the field, penalties were a big issue for both teams and officiating in general was sometimes just inexplicable. With a total of 31 penalties (Laurier with 14 and Mac 17), some of Mac’s penalties were the result of mental errors including too many players on the field and offside, while others were more extreme like their three objectionable conduct penalties.
Two of those OC penalties were the aftermath of a verbal altercation on the field after a hard hit by Laurier’s defensive back Isaiah Guzylak-Messam on Mac receiver Mitch O’Connor. O’Connor was unable to get up for a long period of time and several players became extremely upset.
By this point Mac’s frustration was at an all-time high, while Laurier had started to prematurely celebrate their win. For the Marauders, this is their third-straight time getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Golden Hawks. This game’s outcome has surely intensified the rivalry between the two teams going forward, especially for the Marauders.
For first-year quarterback Jackson White, his first playoff loss happening so close to his hometown of Cambridge was the last thing he pictured for this season.
“Obviously it didn’t go how we wanted it to, but right now I’m just feeling for the fifth years,” said White. “If you look at the positives, they didn’t expect us to make the playoffs and we made it all the way to the OUA semi-finals.”
The game exhibited room for growth within the Marauder program and raised some questions about the OUA’s officiating.
“Our inexperience has shown all season but I think the kids played hard and it is what it is,” said McMaster head coach Greg Knox. “Congrats to Laurier and best of luck at the Yates Cup.”
With this being several senior players’ last game, Mac will be loosing key players especially on the defensive side of the ball. Fifth-year players including linebackers Eric Mezzarila and Alec Robertson will be among the major losses for the Marauders.
“Were going to lose a lot of great players but we just have to fill those spots and be better for the 2018 season,” said White.
The Golden Hawks will be face off against the Western Mustangs in London on Nov. 11 for the 110th edition of the Yates Cup. Laurier will be trying to defend their title as the 2017 Yates Cup Champions by fending off the No. 2 Mustangs, who have yet to lose this season and will be looking for revenge along with another shot at the Vanier Cup.