HAMILTON (September 5, 2016) - The No. 8 McMaster Marauders dumped the Toronto Varsity Blues 32-5 on WeatherTech Football Day in Hamilton at Tim Hortons Field.
The win improves the Marauders record to 2-0 to start the 2016 campaign, while the Varsity Blues fall to 0-2 in OUA league play.
Asher Hastings of Regina tossed a touchdown to go with 346 yards in the win. Dan Vandervoort of Barrie, Ont. was the game's top offensive player, pulling down five catches for 119 yards to go with a single touchdown.
On the ground McMaster's Chris Pezzetta of Burlington, Ont., was the game's top rusher, driving for 117 yards on 18 handoffs.
Toronto's Rahul Madan of Scarborough, Ont., hauled in 12 receptions for 154 yards in the loss for the Varsity Blues. Marcus Hobbs of Mississauga, Ont., finished 22 for 38 with 288 yards and one interceptions.
The Marauders defensive unit had a strong afternoon, with Robbie Yochim Kelowna, B.C., leading on the stat sheet, recording 7.5 tackles and an interception. Keldyn Ahlstedt of Whitby, Ont., had a blocked field goal, while on the same play, Ben Megarry of Burlington, Ont., returned a fumble for a touchdown.
McMaster kicker Adam Preocanin of Burlington, Ont., converted a career high six field goals in his second start with the Marauders. Preocanin has yet to miss a field goal opportunity having connected with three kicks last week (nine field goals in nine attempts).
Toronto's points came on a conceded safety by McMaster and a 32-yard field goal by Ryan Grandell of Thunder Bay, Ont.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED: A blocked field goal by Ahlstedt helped McMaster break the game open in the third quarter. With the score 19-2, Ahlstedt blocked the kick, and the ball popped up immediately into an attacking Megarry who ran it back for a 70-yard fumble recovery touchdown.
DANNY V, BEING DANNY V: Vandervoort got the crowd on its feet midway through the second quarter when he made a spectacular one-handed grab to complete a 49-yard toss by Hastings. That set up an eventual three-yard touchdown from Hastings to Vandervoort, which put the Marauders up 13-2 at the time. (Link to play: https://twitter.com/McMasterSports/status/772840826925789184/video/1
SOMETHING TO WORK ON: McMaster was slowed by penalty trouble against the Varsity Blues. The Marauders had 17 penalties for 189 yards while Toronto only had eight penalties for a loss of 50 yards.
THE COFFEE GROUNDS: The game was the first of two on WeatherTech Football Day in Hamilton, with the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats hosting the Labour Day Classic vs. the Argos in the evening match at Tim Hortons Field.. It was the first time the Marauders have played at Tim Hortons Field since the new stadium opened in 2014. Announced attendance at the game was 5,802 which puts McMaster's yearly attendance over 10,000 in just two games.
UP NEXT: McMaster (2-0) will travel to the University of Ottawa (1-0) to take on the Gee-Gees in the nation's capital next Saturday (Sept. 10). In the last 10 games vs. Ottawa, the Marauders are 7-3 dating back to the 2005 season. Ottawa opened up their season today with a 65-1 win over the Waterloo Warriors.
THEY SAID IT:
Fifth year senior Chris Pezzetta on playing at Tim Hortons Field on Football Day in Hamilton...
"It was exciting playing here today, even though at times it felt like a road game. The atmosphere was great, and it's been a fun day so far."
Pezzetta what he sees about this team so far...
"Our defence is really playing a lot better and starting to gel this year after having a year to play together. On the offensive line, I like how we're starting to gel as well. We've got some young guys stepping up, guys who haven't played offensive line before, really playing big for us."
McMaster head coach Greg Knox on his impressions from today...
"It was a little spotty here and there today. But a win is a win. Toronto played us tough and did a good job. I thought we responded well in the second half. We wanted to establish the running game and we did a little bit of that, and got a lot of people into the game."
"Overall, it's a step forward, and we've got to be happy with that."
Knox on the McMaster defence…
"One of the things that's worked to our advantage is that we've been playing with a lead a little bit. It's enabled us to be a bit more conservative and make offences move the ball in small chunks and not going over the top. That's probably been our biggest success, limiting 'explosion plays.' We're making offences work for everything they get."
Knox on rookie kicker Adam Preocanin...
"Whatever he's doing is working. We'll leave that alone, and he's done a good job. He hasn't been perfect, but he's shown a great deal of poise for a young man and has stepped up, and we have a lot of confidence in him."
Knox on McMaster's high penalty total
"We've got to reduce unforced errors. That's going to change in that equation very quickly."
Knox on Labour Day experience...
It shapes up like an away game a little bit. From an operations perspective, I think our [McMaster ] Athletic Department did a good job of limiting distractions and making it as comfortable an environment as they could. But it is challenging, and we could always do better.
Source: McMaster Marauders