HAMILTON – The No. 3 McMaster Marauders captured their third Yates Cup banner in four seasons with a 20-15 victory over the No. 5 Guelph Gryphons in the 107th Yates Cup, presented by Pioneer Energy at McMaster's Ron Joyce Stadium before a crowd of 4,554.
Defences dominated the contest, with a combined 12 turnovers between the two teams, including five interceptions by the McMaster defenders. For the Marauders, defensive backs Joey Cupido (Hamilton, Ont.) and Allan Dicks (Abbotsford, B.C.) each had a pair of interceptions, and defensive lineman Mike Kashak (Courtice, Ont.) returned one interception for a 30-yard touchdown. Each squad also conceded two safety touches apiece.
Cupido's performance earned him the Dalt White Trophy, presented by Porter Airlines, as the most valuable player of the Yates Cup game. In addition to two interceptions he posted three solo tackles, one assist, and one late-game pass breakup in a strong McMaster defensive stand.
"To be able to win this on our home field in front of our own fans in the city I grew up in is the most special feeling in the world," said Hamilton-native Cupido, who has now accumulated 14 career post-season appearances. "This defence just has so many good players. At the end of the day, we just stuck to the game plan and played our best game of the year today."
The championship marked the seventh Yates Cup title in McMaster club history, all coming from 2000 to date. The Marauders last won the title back-to-back in 2011 and 2012, advancing to the Vanier Cup both years and winning the national title in 2011. McMaster had downed Guelph 30-13 in the 2012 Yates Cup final.
"You win championships with defence and that was certainly true today," said McMaster head coach Stefan Ptaszek, claiming his third conference title as a head coach. "Our defence played their best football when we needed it most. I think Guelph's quarterback played a great game but he was playing against I think the best defence in the conference."
On offence McMaster running back Chris Pezzetta (Burlington, Ont.) amassed 144 yards on 23 carries to lead the ground attack, while quarterback Marshall Ferguson (Kingston, Ont.) completed 24 of 34 attempts for 191 yards and three interceptions. The top Marauder receiver was Daniel Petermann (Stoney Creek, Ont.) with seven receptions for 67 yards.
For Guelph, starting pivot Jazz Lindsey (Markham, Ont.) completed just one of six passes for 13 yards and threw three interceptions before being pulled early in the second quarter. In relief, James Roberts (Cambridge, Ont.) connected on 17 of 29 tosses, amassing 183 yards and blooping a pair of interceptions. Receiver Alex Charette (St. Catharines, Ont.) pulled in eight passes for 108 yards.
Both defences asserted their presence from the outset, the first quarter seeing a combined six turnovers in addition to a safety touch apiece. McMaster grabbed three interceptions, including a pair by Cupido, while the Gryphons reeled in one pick and a pair of fumble recoveries. In the dying minutes of the quarter, Guelph's Rob Farquharson (Niagara Falls, Ont.) scored the first touchdown of the game on a 41-yard run, giving the Gryphons a 9-2 advantage at the first intermission.
McMaster closed the gap midway through the second quarter with a 32-yard Tyler Crapigna (Nepean, Ont.) field goal, and took a 12-9 lead on the next play from scrimmage with Kashak returning a 30-yard interception for a major score.
Crapigna added a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter, and later conceded a safety on the final play of the frame, to nurse a 17-11 McMaster lead into the final intermission.
McMaster and Guelph each added a field goal in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, and a Guelph rouge on a 61-yard punt by Daniel Ferraro (Mississauga, Ont.) narrowed McMaster's advantage 20-15. Guelph mounted a last-ditch drive in the dying seconds, but was firmly repulsed by the Marauder defence.
With the win McMaster will now host the CIS semifinal Mitchell Bowl on Saturday, November 22, at Ron Joyce Stadium against the AUS-champion Mount Allison Mounties at 4.00 pm.