If it were a fight, they would have stopped it – very early on.
What was billed as a tight matchup for second place in the OUA turned into a laugher as the McMaster Marauders punished the Ottawa Gee-gees 51-24 Saturday afternoon, earning a first-round bye in the OUA playoffs.
Mac took a 31-3 lead just seconds into the third quarter, Ottawa never cut the deficit to less than 20 points and Mac locked up a 7-1 regular season record, tied for best in the OUA with Western and good enough to ensure a week off as the OUA playoffs get underway.
“In all three parts of the game we were on task, with big plays on specials [on offence and defence]. When this team does that, they’re pretty freakin’ good,” said McMaster coach Stefan Ptaszek.
Kyle Quinlan and the Marauder receiving corps simply ran wild on an overmatched Ottawa defence, scoring early and often and putting any question about the game’s outcome away.
Quinlan threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters of work.
After a 25-yard field goal by Tyler Crapigna made it 3-0 Mac on the game’s first drive, kick returner Gary Spero ran a punt 80 yards to the end zone, giving the Marauders a 10-point lead just three minutes into the game.
Ottawa would respond with a Matt Falvo field goal, but from then on, it was virtually all McMaster.
Chris Pezzetta ran in a 1-yard touchdown on Mac’s next drive, then less than four minutes later, Mike DiCroce hauled in a 27-yard TD reception from Quinlan.
Robert Babic hauled in a 6-yard scoring pass from Quinlan to make it 31-3 just seconds into the third quarter, and though Ottawa responded quickly with a 13-yard touchdown from Aaron Colbon to Simon Le Marquand, the Marauders would find the end zone twice more before halftime
DiCroce led Mac with 124 receiving yards on the day. Babic hauled in two touchdowns, Brad Fochesato caught another and Matt Peressini made a team-high seven catches for 99 yards.
“A month ago, we challenged our guys to get better each week as we move towards the playoffs. Each of the last three weeks we’ve gotten a bit better and heading towards the post-season, the real season, we’re playing our best football,” said Ptaszek.
The first round bye is the first of Ptaszek’s 6-year tenure at McMaster, and the semi-final in two weeks will be a first at the three-year old Ron Joyce Stadium. Depending on next week’s first-round results, Mac could host one of Queen’s, Ottawa or Windsor.
Queen’s (6-2), with a 37-0 win over Western (7-1) on Saturday, will host Laurier (4-4), while Ottawa (5-3) will host Windsor (4-4). If Laurier manages to upset Queen’s, McMaster will host the winner of Ottawa-Windsor, while a Queen’s win would mean a Gaels-Marauders postseason matchup at Ron Joyce Stadium on Nov. 5.
“We have three different teams we could potentially play and we’ll prep for all three. Once that second week rolls around, we’ll get ready to play our best football in the semi-finals here,” said Ptaszek. “We have to find a way to get better over the next couple of weeks, because the bar has been set high.”