Marauders, Gryphons earn quarterfinal wins to clinch semifinal berths

Photo by Marc Bourget
Photo by Marc Bourget

Marauders, Gryphons earn quarterfinal wins to set up semifinal showdowns

BURLINGTON, Ont. – There may have only been two games on the schedule, but there was plenty of entertaining action on the gridiron from Saturday’s quarterfinal games, with the McMaster Marauders and Guelph Gryphons punching their tickets to next weekend’s semifinals.

In a matchup that pitted one of the province’s top offensive clubs against one of the top defensive teams, the defence was the difference-maker. In what turned out to be a low-scoring affair from both clubs – combining for just 21 points – there was just one touchdown scored in the entire game. A 24-yard pass from Jackson White to Dan Petermann opened the scoring, before an Adam Preocanin field goal and team safety in the second quarter helped the No. 3 Marauders take a 12-0 lead to the half.

In the second half, the Gaels flipped the script and kept the Marauders off the scoreboard, but the stout Marauders defence continued to play a big role in the team’s success. The Hamilton squad kept the potent Queen’s offence out of the endzone and limited them to just three field goals on their quest for offence. And while the leg of kicker Nick Liberatore pulled the No. 6 Gaels to within three, the Tricolour would come no closer.

McMaster’s defensive stand earned them the win and sets up a semifinal face-off against the No. 2 Laurier Golden Hawks next weekend.

Saturday’s second quarterfinal matchup saw the No. 5 Guelph Gryphons travel to the nation’s capital to battle the No. 4 uOttawa Gee-Gees. The Gryphons got off to a dream start in the first quarter, which saw a pair of touchdown passes from James Roberts (31-yard TD to Jacob Scarfone and 10-yard TD to Jordan Terrio) help build a strong 20-0 cushion after one 15 minutes of play.

From there, much of the scoring came from the two record-setting kickers, as Guelph’s Gabe Ferraro would add three more field goals to his total, bringing him to five on the day, while the Gee-Gees’ Lewis Ward connected on a pair of his own. Despite the more closely contested final three quarters, the opening frame offence from Guelph proved to be the difference en route to the team’s 30-8 win.

With the victory, the Gryphons have earned a spot in next week’s semifinals and will travel to Western to take on the No. 1 ranked Mustangs.

Semifinal Matchups

No. 5 Guelph Gryphons @ No. 1 Western Mustangs

No. 3 McMaster Marauders @ No. 2 Laurier Golden Hawks

Game Recaps

Queen’s Gaels 9 | McMaster Marauders 12

HAMILTON (October 28, 2017) - The No. 7 McMaster Marauders outlasted the Queen's Gaels for a 12-9 OUA quarterfinal football win Saturday at Ron Joyce Stadium.

Jordan Lyons of Burlington, Ont. tied an OUA playoff record for carries, registering 39 and rushing for 319 yards. That mark was also the second most all-time in a playoff game in Canadian University football history. 

McMaster put up all of their points in the opening half, and then relied on their defence to hold on for the victory, as Queen`s posted three field goals in the second half with multiple opportunities to strike.

McMaster`s Eric Blake (Hamilton) intercepted Queen`s quarterback Nate Hobbs of Mississauga, Ont., with 1:20 remaining in the game, essentially sealing the result. The Gaels, who had been hanging around with good field position in the fourth quarter, were driving down the field after getting the ball back on the 55-yard line. Four plays later, Blake picked off Hobbs at the 35-yard line and returned the ball six yards.  

That interception allowed McMaster to wind the clock down to three seconds left on the clock setting up Queen`s desperation pass which fell incomplete to end the game.

Lyons' 319 rushing yards and 39 carry performance ranks as one of the best single-game performances in Canadian university football's history. His 39 carries ties Dillon Campbell (Laurier) for most carries in an OUA playoff game (against McMaster in 2015). The 319 yards is the second-most yards rushed for in a playoff game, just eight yards short of Davie Mason (Ottawa), who posted 327 against Guelph in 2008. It also ranks as 11th all time (playoffs & regular season) in Canada. 

McMaster alumnus, Jesse Lumsden holds the school record for most rushing yards in a single game, finishing with 344 vs. Waterloo back on Sept. 11, 2004. Lyons' performance was just 25 yards shy of that mark.

Veteran receiver Dan Petermann of Stoney Creek, Ont., hauled in a 24-yard pass from Jackson White of Cambridge, Ont. to record the game's only touchdown, giving the Marauders a  7-0 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Burlington, Ont.'s Adam Preocanin chipped in a 12-yard field goal with the defence adding a safety to make the score 12-0 at the half.  

Queen`s Nick Liberatore of Dartmouth, NS., kicked three field goals (27, 30 and 33 yards) to round out the game's scoring at 12-9. He tallied two of his kicks in the third quarter.

Liberatore had a fourth field goal set up, which would have tied the game, but hit the left upright for a missed attempt.

Queen`s stuck around the entire game, and looked at times like they would break the McMaster defence for a big play. Blake`s interception, along with a sack by veteran defensive end Mark Mackie of London, Ont., late in the game, snuffed out key late drives by the Gaels. Blake, playing in his second game of the season, also had five total tackles. Hassan Barry of Cambridge, Ont., led the team with six. Will Hudson of Oakville, Ont., and Jake Heathcote of Hamilton both had two pass break ups, with four others contributing one.

Queen`s Hobbs finished the game with a game high 227 yards passing, completing 18 of 47 attempts while his McMaster counterpart was 12 for 26 for 154 yards and a touchdown strike to Petermann. Both quarterbacks had an interception.

Petermann posted the game's only touchdown, tallying 62 yards, with 51 coming in the opening half.  Chris Osei-Kus of Brampton, Ont., was the game's top receiver, hauling in 105 yards in the loss.

Queen`s Jake Puskas of Thunder Bay, Ont., had 10 carries for 49 yards.

Lyons 319 yards were a career high for the second year running back. His previous high came earlier this year when he collected 176 yards against the York Lions back on September 30. Lyons surpassed his career high total late in the second quarter against Queen's, putting up 197 yards in the first half alone.  He also earned his career high total in an unusual way. Sitting at 165 yards, Lyons would pick up 12 yards for his career high, but ended up fumbling the ball in the process.

McMaster travels to Waterloo, into hostile territory, to battle the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in the OUA semi-final matchup. McMaster is aiming to upset the No. 5 Golden Hawks in a rematch of last week's final game of the regular season, which saw Laurier drop McMaster 40-15. With a second look, the Marauders look to rebound and punch their ticket into the 110th Yates Cup. set for November 11th.

McMaster Linebacker Eric Blake
On his crucial fourth-quarter interception

"Our offence couldn't really get it going in the fourth quarter, so it fell to our group to step up and make a play, and get that momentum coming back our way. Our coach put us in a great position to make a play, and we did the rest. It was my first of the season, and it felt great to get it in that moment."

McMaster Running back Jordan Lyons
Reflecting on his output Saturday

"I don't know if I've ever reached 300 yards in a game, even in high school. I didn't really know how many yards or carries I had. I was so much into the flow of the game. All I really cared about was getting the win today and keeping us playing for another week."

Praising the offensive line
"They did a hell of a job getting up on the linebackers today, and that did a lot to key up some of the big runs. They opened big holes for me, and I made the most of them."

Coach Greg Knox
Assessing the game as a whole

"We showed some grit and resilience that we didn't last week. The offence did an excellent job moving the ball in the first half. We're still having trouble putting the ball in the end zone, but when the group needed to perform today, they came through."

On Blake and his interception
"We ask him to do a lot, and he responded well today. He always gives his best, so it was great to see him make a play like that when it counted."

Defensive End Mark Mackie
On watching the dramatic third-down call in the fourth quarter

"I'm jumping up and down, yelling "first down, first down," doing anything I can do to influence the action on the field. It all means so much more, because it's not just potentially the end of your season, but it could be the end of your career. My heart is still pounding in my chest."

"We've always been a bend-don't-break kind of defence, and I think we matched up really well with them today. We had to limit the long drives, and on offence, we had to finish. We're a great team, and I think we proved it out there today. We like to ground-and-pound, and we're having a fun day when it's a scrappy game like that."

"The mentality is always "next man up." Eric's been around for a little while, but he hasn't really gained that game experience. But that was a massive play, and really changed the momentum of the game for us. Kudos to him, and we're going to need him going forward, but when you have injuries like us, you need that."

Watching Lyons rack up the yards
"We're jumping on that guy's back today. He showed up to play, and he led us today. It was an unbelievable performance. He was gritty all game, finding the holes. When you have a guy balling out like that, it gives your whole team energy. Not to mention, on a cold day like this, if the offence can hold the ball, it does a lot. Because as a defence, you're not remotely tired and you're licking your chops.

Facing Laurier again
"You want every game bad, but Laurier has had our number. It's going to come down to whether we can pull together and have a gritty performance. We've got to get ahead of it this week and build some momentum.They got us last week, but it's all about who comes to play on Saturday."


Guelph Gryphons 30 | uOttawa Gee-Gees 8

OTTAWA – The Guelph Gryphons football team entered the postseason as one of the hottest teams in Canadian university football. The Gryphons went 5-1 in the final six games – and that momentum continued Saturday in their second trip to the nation's capital in eight days. Guelph stormed out of the gate and soundly beat Ottawa 30-8 in an OUA quarter-final at Gee-Gees Field Saturday afternoon.
The No. 5-seeded Gryphons earned a semi-final berth at No. 1 Western next week, the site of their 2015 Yates Cup win. Guelph lost the 2017 season opener to Ottawa 24-21 in double overtime at Alumni Stadium. But the script was different in the rematch as they took control of the playoff game immediately scoring the first 20 points.
"We're the more veteran team and we played like it," head coach Kevin MacNeill said after the game. "The guys did a great job. We controlled the ball and managed the clock well."
Fourth-year quarterback James Roberts returned to action and completed 10 of 19 passes, for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Scarfone (five catches for 83 yards) and Jordan Terrio (two grabs for 41 yards) were on the receiving end of the two scores, while fifth-year running back Johnny Augustine was a workhorse again, carrying the ball 21 times for 151 yards. 

Gabriel Ferraro, who set the U SPORTS single-season field goal record last week with 33, while also tying the OUA single-game mark of seven made against Carleton, was good on five of six attempts. The fourth-year Mississauga, ON native hit from 18, 22, 19, 23, and 47 yards out.

Roberts had not played since leaving with an injury in Guelph's Homecoming game against McMaster on Sept. 23. But he showed little rust, orchestrating early drives well. Guelph did work in third-year backup Theodore Landers, who started the last three games of the regular season, all wins. The Maple Ridge, BC native chipped in 67 rushing yards on seven attempts.

"It was great having James back," said MacNeill. "He didn't miss a beat, and showed excellent control of the offence. We were able to put in Theo, as well. Having the combination of the two of them was exactly what we wanted to do today."

There wasn't much doubt about the outcome with the Gryphons producing one of their best performances of the season. But the Gee-Gees did have a couple chances to get back in the game in the fourth quarter. At 29-8, Ottawa was deep in Guelph territory and went for it on third down, only to be denied by a timely Alain Cimankinda sack. On another possession later in the fourth, the Gee-Gees faked a field goal attempt but Guelph defenders swarmed the ball carrier before reaching the first-down marker to kill the drive.

On the change of possession, Guelph began handing off to Augustine, who gained big chunks on the ground late. He had entered the game with at least 100 yards on the ground (404 in total) in the last three games of the regular season.

The experienced Gryphons defence was stellar. They demoralized the Ottawa offence, limiting rookie quarterback Alex Lavric to 118 passing yards. Veteran running back Bryce Viera led all Gee-Gees rushers with 38 yards and the hosts had just 278 yards of total offence.

Guelph's unit was led by the linebacking tandem of Job Reinhart and Luke Korol. The fourth-year Korol had two of the team's six sacks on the day to go with 7.5 tackles, while Reinhart, a third-year Guelph native, led all players with eight solo tackles.

"The defence balled out," said MacNeill. "They did a tremendous job of shutting Ottawa down."

The Gryphons came out flying and built a 20-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. Ferraro got the hosts on the board with a short 18-yard field goal at 11:23. Guelph has showed an ability to strike for huge plays all season long and the visitors stretched the lead to 10-0 when Roberts found Scarfone from 31 yards out. It was an incredible, over-the-shoulder catch from the talented receiver, who made an adjustment to haul in the pass at 5:06.

Just over a minute later, Ferraro booted his second field goal of the quarter, this time from 22 yards. And with just 31 seconds left in the first, Roberts hit Terrio for a 10-yard touchdown, a tough blow for an Ottawa team that was trying to stop the bleeding. Guelph finishedthe opening 15 minutes with 180 yards of offence and 10 first downs.

The Gee-Gees finally put up some points when Lewis Ward hit a 22-yard field goal early in the second quarter. After Ferraro added his third of the day, this time from 19 yards out, Ward would make another 18-yarder to get Ottawa within 17 before halftime at 23-6. But the hosts could not string any offence together and went down quietly.

Guelph is eager to keep its run going. The Gryphons know it will be a challenge against the powerhouse Mustangs.

"Every game will be a battle here on out," said MacNeill. "They're one of the best teams in the country and we'll have to be at our best."