With 26 seconds left in the first half of the Marauders 2012 season debut against the Guelph Gryphons, Kyle Quinlan jumped over a sideline advertisement after one of his several first down runs on the day. What would normally be a highlight reel play sealed with a glare at the record-setting opening day crowd, has become the show that Marauder fans and the OUA have come to expect from Saturdays at Ron Joyce.
Rushing the ball ten other times for a total of 109 yards, the nation’s best passer asserted both McMaster’s and his own poise to defend the title of national champions – a task made to be imperative for the Maroon and Grey.
Even the national anthem was drowned out by the buzz in and around the stadium, which featured a large line waiting to enter until well through the first quarter. No pressure at all.
However, with a target on their back and the weight of an entire campus resting on their shoulder pads, the Marauders demonstrated what all the hype was about.
After giving up an early score to the visiting team, Mac settled down on both sides of the ball. Two and outs turned into efficient drives, which soon became an onslaught of Robert Babic receptions for six. The fourth year slot back from Oakville, Ont. who scored three touchdowns in last year’s regular season, caught the ball eight times for 165 yards and two scores on Saturday.
As a result, Babic received player of the game honors – an accolade for which several Marauders could have made a case. One of those players, linebacker Ben D’Aguilar, earned himself a spot as the OUA defensive player of the week recording five tackles and three sacks.
The final score of the game was 50-9 in favor of the #1 ranked Marauders whose next game comes against the Waterloo Warriors on Saturday September 8 in Waterloo, Ont.
What appears to be an easy start to the schedule for Mac will quickly escalate as only a week later the nationally ranked Queen’s Gaels will come to town.
All things considered, Saturday was an excellent start to what is surely to be the most closely followed season in program history. The national spotlight seems to bring out only the best of not only the football team, but also the entire community.
By the looks of it, the Marauders are at the forefront of the growing popularity of Canadian university football. With exciting performances on the field and competitive title races, maybe one day the Vanier Cup and Hec Creighton will share the same buzz as the same awards south of the border. It’s a good place to start.