Assistant Sports Editor
Passes wobbled through the air, receivers dropped footballs that would normally be caught and special teams play was interesting to say the least as the Marauders looked to continue their win streak in Waterloo on Oct. 15.
Touted as the matchup of the two premier passing offences in the OUA, the Saturday contest against the Laurier Golden Hawks was supposed to feature highlight reel performances from the quarterbacks and receivers on both teams.
However, rain, wind and frigid temperatures created less-than-ideal conditions for either team to develop any sort of aerial attack. With both squads also struggling to make any headway on the ground, the promised offensive matchup quickly turned into a gritty battle against both opponents and the elements – a battle Mac would prevail in, defeating Laurier 25-6 and moving to 6-1 on the season.
Kyle Quinlan led the Mac offence with 230 passing and a touchdown. Mike DiCroce’s fifth touchdown of the year gave Mac a 10-point lead late in the third quarter they would not relinquish, and Chris Pezzetta put the icing on the cake with a one-yard TD run with less than a minute left.
DiCroce’s catch was the only touchdown reception of the quasi-apocalyptic day, of note considering the game featured the CIS total passing yards leader in Hawks QB Shane Kelly and the yards per game leader in Quinlan.
The Mac defence, which once again showcased its talent in the secondary, picked off Kelly twice, including a massive snag in the end zone by Mike Daly, his CIS-leading fifth of the year. The other pick was nabbed by Joey Cupido, playing in his first game after returning from injury.
Holding an opposing team to less than ten points for the second time this season, Coach Stefan Ptaszek’s defensive unit can attribute their big game to shutting down the Laurier receiving core.
Combined, Shamawd Chambers and Dillon Heap, two of the conference’s top receivers, managed only 10 receptions for 94 yards and no touchdowns, a result that was far less dominant than that of the expected passing clinic.
By the final whistle, the Marauders had secured a convincing victory, extending their win streak to five games in a row and solidifying their place in the OUA standings. It was also the first victory for the team while visiting Laurier in 10 seasons.
With a record of 6-1, McMaster currently sits second in the OUA behind the undefeated Western Mustangs (7-0) who handed McMaster their first and only loss of the season thus far back on Sept. 10.
The Mustangs have established themselves not only as the front-runner for the Yates Cup, but for the Vanier Cup as well. The most recent CIS top-ten rankings feature UWO at the top spot with McMaster also receiving national attention, ranking no. 6 in the country.
Now on the doorstep of the playoffs, the Marauders have a chance to earn a first-round bye with a win against Ottawa in the season’s last game.
The Gee-gees could also earn a playoff bye with a win as they visit McMaster currently tied for third place in the OUA.
Ottawa’s squad brings with it the dazzling duo of quarterback Aaron Colbon, who is the conference’s second leading passer and Simon La Marquand, who trails only Mac’s DiCroce in receiving yardage.
However, unlike Laurier, the Gee-gees have a serious threat on the ground with running back Brian Gillanders sitting third in OUA rushing and backup Franck Ngandui also in the top ten.
McMaster’s defence appears to be up to the task of stopping these threats. The unit has held their last two opponents to 20 points while the offence scored 75 in those games.
The season-ending contest will kick off at 1 p.m. Coverage of the game can be seen on Hamilton’s Cable 14 or heard on campus radio CMFU 93.3.