HAMILTON (October 29, 2016) - The No. 4 McMaster Marauders claimed a 17-11 come-from-behind playoff victory over the Guelph Gryphons Saturday, advancing to the OUA football semi-final stage next week.
The win now sets up an OUA final four match up with the No. 6 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (7-1) in Waterloo on Saturday, November 5. Kickoff is set for 1:00pm EDT.
Down 11-7, McMaster took their only lead of the game with 7:20 left to play, when quarterback Asher Hastings of Regina found Dan Petermann of Stoney Creek, Ont., in the endzone for an eight-yard touchdown reception. After a failed Gryphon drive, Marauder kicker Adam Preocanin of Burlington, Ont., hit a 23-yard field goal make the score 17-11 with 2:32 left to play.
In the final minute of play, Guelph marched down to the McMaster 12-yard line, before Keldyn Ahlstedt of Whitby, Ont. iced the game with an interception on the Marauder goal line as time expired.
Hastings finished 26 for 39 passing for 317 yards and one touchdown in the win, while running back Chris Pezzetta of Burlington, Ont., recorded 43 yards rushing.
For the Gryphons, James Roberts of Cambridge, Ont. was 23-35, tossing for 257 yards, one touchdown and a season-ending interception. A'dre Fraser was the game's top receiver, hauling in 93 yards on seven receptions, while notching Guelph's only touchdown in the game.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED: Preocanin played a big part in today's playoff win. After McMaster took the lead 14-11 in the fourth quarter, he booted a big, 60-yard kickoff, which Guelph returner Jamal Hooker of Regina bobbled to pin the Gryphons on their own nine-yard line. McMaster ultimately got the ball back on the 55-yard line, which set up the 23-yard field goal by Preocanin. The rookie also converted three field goal attempts and thumped a booming 62-yard kick that went over Guelph's returnees' heads and forced the Gryphons to surrender a rouge, making the score 10-7 just minutes into the fourth quarter.
SCORING PLAYS: Guelph opened scoring early in the second quarter, when Roberts found Fraser for a 32-yard touchdown pass (7-0 Guelph) ... Preocanin kicked a 38-yard field goal (7-3 Guelph ) while Guelph's Gabriel Ferraro of Mississauga, Ont., countered with his own 48-yard field goal as time expired in the opening half (10-3 Guelph) ... In the third, Preocanin added a 13-yard field goal (10-6 Guelph) ... The fourth saw McMaster put up 11 points to Guelph's 1. The two teams traded rouges in the opening minutes of the final frame (11-7 Guelph) before Hastings found Peterman on a 11-play, 75-yard drive with 7:20 remaining (14-11 McMaster) ... Preocanin capped the scoring with a 23-yard field goal with 2:32 remaining (17-11 McMaster).
LOOK SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS: McMaster came up big when needed. The fifth-year senior Ahlstedt picked off Guelph as time expired, while Preocanin made booming kicks when needed. But the entire Marauder team made plays in the crunch. McMaster was 100% in third-down conversions (three-for-three) while Guelph converted only 50% of their attempts (two-for-four). McMaster was also perfect in their red zone appearances, going three-for-three, while Guelph did not convert their only opportunity in the redzone.
UP NEXT: McMaster (7-2) travels to contend against Wilfrid Laurier (7-1), who earned a bye through the quarter-finals. The two teams did not meet this year in regular season play. Last year, McMaster was 1-1 against the Golden Hawks earning a 30-21 win at University Stadium in Waterloo on Oct. 17, but falling to Laurier 29-15 in a quarter-final at Ron Joyce Stadium on Oct. 31. The game will be featured on television station CHCH with coverage beginning at 1:00pm.
Carleton (7-2) will travel to London to take on the Western Mustangs (7-1) in the other OUA semi-final game set for Saturday. The Ravens advanced to the semi-final by dumping Ottawa 45-9 in their quarter-final match, and won their regular season game against the Mustangs 38-31 back on September 4th.
QUOTABLE: McMaster Quarterback Asher Hastings
Hastings on a third quarter drive which resulted in only in a field goal...
"That was tough. Obviously, every time you get down into that area, you want to score touchdowns. That's been an issue for us all season. It was again tonight. Again, that's something that we're going to have to address during the week, and score more points to help our defence out, who got us here."
Hastings on the final minute of the game…
"I was just standing there with Max Cameron and Chris Pezzetta, just praying. Praying for a turnover, and thank God for Keldyn Ahlstedt."
Hastings on Laurier...
"We expect another tough game. They're one of the best defences in Canada. They really, really bring it on defence, so it's going to be tough for us offensively. We're going to have to have a great week of preparation and stay dialled in and focused, because this one was way too close."
QUOTABLE: Fifth Year Senior Keldyn Ahlstedt who intercepted Guelph on the final play of the game
Ahlstedt on how the game ended...
"We needed a play, and I was fortunate enough that the ball came my way and I was able to make the play that we needed. I was just reading the quarterback. He was looking at number three [the intended receiver] really strongly on that play, and I believed in what I'd seen and I jumped it. Fortunately, I was able to catch it and saw some open grass."
Ahlstedt on rating the defence...
"I think, all in all, our defence played lights out. We had a few mental errors, especially in Guelph's one touchdown drive, which we'll need to clean up. But on the balance, I think we played pretty well."
THE LAST WORD: McMaster Head Coach Greg Knox
Knox on his assessment of how the game went...
"There's probably a bit more grey hair, and maybe a bit less hair at the end of the day. That was an exciting game to watch,, but less exciting to preside over. We rallied at halftime and did what we needed to do in the second half. We bend a little bit but we didn't break. A win is a win come playoff time. We're happy and we'll put it behind us, and try to learn from our mistakes."
Knox on the offense awakening...
"They dug deep, and what you saw was a lot of extra effort for first downs. What you saw was a lot of disciplined play and some precision play, and they put it all together in that stretch, and when that happens, they're able to put the ball in the end zone."
Knox on Preocanin...
"He did a good job all around, and I think he's rallied. He had a couple of tough outings, and we're proud of him for dealing with that. I think he proved what he's made of out there today and he did a good job."
Knox on next week and Wilfrid Laurier...
"Their defence is very aggressive and very athletic. Their offence is very strong running the ball, with a few dangerous receivers. So they're a formidable foe. But it's playoff time, so we expect a war each week, and I think that's what we're going to get."
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