Assistant Sports Editor
Under the lights of Ron Joyce Stadium, with his arms crossed in pride, Kyle Quinlan turned to pose triumphantly for the crowd after a powerful 12-yard run.
Seeing the playing field for the first time in three games after a suspension, Quinlan received a warm welcome from the Marauder faithful.
Although it was not his first game, his last or a contest featuring a top-ranked opponent, Oct. 6 presented the fourth year star a unique opportunity to remind the CIS why he is widely considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
By the time Quinlan was taken out of the game, with almost an entire quarter remaining, he had lit up the scoreboard for five touchdowns and 455 yards passing. The yardage was spread out with seven different receivers getting at least one catch.
“Kyle did not look even a little bit rusty, it was as good a football game as you can play, he stretched the field vertically, horizontally and that’s as good as our offense has worked in a while,” said coach Stefan Ptaszek.
Perhaps the Toronto Varsity Blues were the victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Quinlan’s return seemed to add tremendous electricity not only to the passing game, but to the entire team as well. Rallying around the all-star performance of their quarterback, McMaster won the game handily by a score of 50-14.
Once again the defence chipped in with a dominating performance, intercepting Toronto’s quarterback Andrew Gillis three times.
“The defense has come back from getting their nose bloody in the second week to playing four solid games, they’ve really helped carry our team through this win streak and hopefully it continues not only for the next two games but after that as well” said Ptaszek.
The victory brings the Marauders winning streak to four games after beginning the season 1-1. Not that the good news ends there, but up next on the schedule are two of the more formidable opponents in the OUA.
The Laurier Golden Hawks, whom the Marauders play on Oct. 15 in Waterloo, possess one of the strongest passing attacks in the conference. Shamawd Chambers and Dillon Heap are both having tremendous seasons receiving the ball.
Each player has also had personal success against the Marauders as well. In the two games the teams have played against each other in since 2009, Chambers has recorded 10 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown. Heap has had even more success also making 10 receptions for 226 yards while torching Mac on kick and punt returns.
The Marauders have not had good luck visiting the Tri-City area, something that pre-dates Ptaszek as head coach of the team.
“[Laurier] have athletes from top to bottom, we haven’t won there since 2001, that’s a decade ago” says the coach currently in his sixth year with the team.
Ptaszek has weapons of his own to use. This week marks the return of all-star running back Joey Nemet from injury opening the possibility for the Marauders to have a triple-pronged attack in the backfield.
Running backs Jimmy Hill and rookie Chris Pezetta shared the load effectively while Nemet was out. Now the coaching staff is charged with the task of getting them the ball on Saturday.
“We’re a better football team with all three of those kids getting their fair share of touches, Joey is probably the best pass protector on the team and he’ll keep Kyle (Quinlan) off his back, while the burst and change of pace that we get from Jimmy and Chris means they will still have to touch the ball,” said Ptaszek of his running game plan for the weekend.
With such consistent play coming from both sides of the line of scrimmage, Ptaszek expects that a pair of regular players will have big games.
“[Kick returner Gary] Spero is due for a big return, he’s been playing wonderful at receiver, he’s going to have a breakout game and Joey Cupido has been resting, and he’ll have an All-Canadian receiver [in Heap] across from him.”
After a shaky start and numerous injuries to key players, the Marauders look better than ever. The return of Kyle Quinlan adds veteran leadership and championship caliber play at pivot, while the defense looks ready to take on any challenge.
The matchup with the Hawks can be seen on the Score’s University Rush. Game time for the Oct. 15 clash is 1 p.m.