Photo C/O Brandon Vandecaveye / Western Mustangs
On Nov. 9, the McMaster Marauders beat the Western Mustangs 29-15. This marks the eighth Yates Cup win in school history and will hopefully lead to the fifth Vanier Cup appearance for McMaster, although the Marauders will have to get through the University of Calgary Dinos first.
Although it was a big win for the school, we wish a speedy and full recovery for Mustangs’ quarterback Chris Merchant, who left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Merchant was the league’s Most Valuable Player this year and had a phenomenal season leading Western to an undefeated regular season.
The game was won in old school football fashion, with a strong run game and even better defensive play. With 37 rushing attempts for 123 yards, the Marauders were able to dominate time of possession at 34 minutes and 30 seconds out of a total game time of 60 minutes. In addition to their successful run game, the team upheld the old saying “defence wins championships”. The Marauders’ defence held Western’s high flying offence to just nine yards in the second quarter. The Marauders also had two safeties, six sacks, two recovered fumbles, two interceptions and a blocked punt.
In addition to their successful run game, the team upheld the old saying “defence wins championships”. The Marauders’ defence held Western’s high flying offence to just nine yards in the second quarter. The Marauders also had two safeties, six sacks, two recovered fumbles, two interceptions and a blocked punt.
— Scott Radley (@radleyatthespec) November 9, 2019
No game can be perfect. In particular, the Marauders had three turnovers in the first quarter. Retaining possession of the ball will be a key factor in the Mitchell Bowl, the game they play this Saturday Nov. 16 which is the precursor to the Vanier Cup, where they play the Calgary Dinos. The Marauders won’t be able to get away with that many turnovers in one quarter on the higher stage. Calgary’s defence has been a force all season and they held the University of Saskatchewan Huskies to just four points in the Hardy Cup, the final game of the Canada West division.
The University of Calgary will undoubtedly be a tough opponent, as they boast an undefeated home record this season. The game will be played at McMahon Stadium, on the Dinos’ home turf. The odds are certainly stacked against us as no Ontario University Athletics team has won a bowl game out West since 1968.
The odds are certainly stacked against us as no Ontario University Athletics team has won a bowl game out West since 1968.
If the maroon and grey beat the Dinos, then it will mark their first Vanier Cup appearance since 2014, where they lost by only one point to the University of Montreal Carabins. If the Marauders win against Calgary, then they will play the winners of the Uteck Bowl, which will be either the University of Acadia Axemen or the University of Montreal Carabins. The Uteck Bowl and Mitchell Bowl are essentially the semi-finals leading up to the Vanier Cup, where the top teams from the different conferences will take turns hosting and visiting.
The Marauders have prospered under head coach Stefan Ptaszek. He has been the head coach for the team in their past three out of four Vanier Cup appearances. In other words, Ptaszek has been influential in three-quarters of the Marauders’ Vanier Cup appearances. Not only is Ptaszek a prolific coach, but he was also an outstanding player. Ptaszek remains the current all-time leader in receiving yards for the University of Laurier Golden Hawks and played in the Canadian National Football league from 1995-2000, as a player, and from 2016-2017 as an offensive coordinator and receivers coach.
On Nov. 16 we play the Dinos for a Vanier Cup bid, where two of the best defences in Canada will battle for a place in the history books.