Uteck Bowl: Marauders off to first Vanier Cup final since 1967
Courtesy of John Edwards, for CIS/AUS - Photo credit Dan MacDonald
MONCTON, N.B.(CIS) – Three touchdown passes and a scoring run by Kyle Quinlan led the No. 4-ranked McMaster Marauders to a 45-21 come-from-behind victory over the No. 9 Acadia Axemen in the early CIS football national semifinal, the Uteck Bowl, at Moncton Stadium.
The South Woodslee, Ont., native’s three TD tosses all came in the second quarter, as McMaster scored 24 unanswered points to turn a 14-0 deficit midway through the first frame into a 31-14 halftime lead. The all-conference quarterback, who earned game-MVP honours, finished with 370 yards passing as he completed 23 of 35 attempts.
With the win, the Marauders (10-1) break a streak of four straight Bowl game losses (2000 to 2003) and advance to their first Vanier Cup final since 1967, a game they lost 10-9 against Alberta. The OUA champions are on a nine-game winning streak, having not lost since a 48-21 defeat to Western on September 10.
“We have emptied the tank the last two weeks, and we’ve needed to,” said McMaster's Stefan Ptaszek, who picked up a win in his first Bowl appearance as a head coach. “Acadia is a fantastic football team. I was worried about us coming out flat after the war against Western, and they stung us early and often. But we got our feet underneath us. When Kyle Quinlan gets his touches and feels, he’s going to make plays.
“I didn’t have to say much after we fell behind early. The guys are proud. And they knew that if they didn’t start playing like they’re capable of, the game would be over quickly.”
The AUS Axemen (8-2) got off to a strong start, as they recovered a fumble by Quinlan on the McMaster 17 and scored on a run by Zack Skibin of Edmonton on the next play. They took advantage of a short field on their next drive, as A.J. Durling of Fredericton scored on a 21-yard pass play, delighting most of the 3,726 in attendance. However, that was as good as it got for the AUS champions.
The Marauders started their comeback on the ensuing drive, as Matthew Peressi scored on a 12-yard rush to cap a six-play, 83-yard sequence. Quinlan tied the game at the 0:13 mark of the second quarter, on an eight-yard pass to Robert Babic.
The turning point came halfway through the quarter, as Quinlan found Brad Fochesato open for a 75-yard pass-and-run play at 6:39 of the second. Quinlan hooked up with Fochesato, who finished with five catches for 159 yards, on another touchdown later in the frame. A field goal by Teddy Peters rounded out McMaster’s 24-point second quarter.
“We’re disappointed for sure. We had such a good start,” said Acadia’s Jeff Cummins, the AUS coach of the year. “But I’m proud of the way our guys played in the second half. They never quit, they battled until the end.”
Quinlan put the game out of reach late in the third as he scrambled for a 14-yard touchdown run. A 14-yard run by Joey Nemet in the fourth rounded out the McMaster scoring. Acadia’s only scoring in the second half came on a 19-yard pass from Kyle Graves to Michael Squires on the last play of the third period.
The Barrie, Ont., native, who was named the AUS most valuable player earlier this month, went 19-for-33 for 292 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. His favourite target was Winnipeg native Taylor Renaud, who caught eight passes for 102 yards. Squires finished with five catches for 89 yards.
McMaster outgained Acadia 629-352, including a 265-95 edge in rushing yards. The Marauders ground game was led by Christopher Pezzetta, who gained 147 yards on 17 carries. Quinlan ran seven times for 65 yards.
McMaster led the country this season with 530 total yards per outing.
The Marauders sacked Graves five times, with Benjamin D’Aguilar picking up a pair. Linebacker Ryan Chmielewski made 2.5 tackles for losses, recovered a fumble and knocked down a pass. Acadia’s defence was led by defensive back Chris Cull, who made 10 tackles.
With the win, McMaster advances to play either Laval or Calgary in the Vanier Cup, set for Friday, November 25, at B.C. Place in Vancouver (6 p.m. PST, TSN & RDS).
MAC: 7-24-7-7: 45
ACA: 14-0-7-0: 21
ACA-TD Zack Skibin 17 run (Ryan Begin kick) 5:31
ACA-TD A.J. Durling 21 pass from Kyle Graves (Ryan Begin kick) 9:20
MAC-TD Matthew Peressi 12 run (Teddy Peters kick) 11:05
MAC-TD Robert Babic 8 pass from Kyle Quinlan (Teddy Peters kick) 0:13
MAC-TD Brad Fochesato 75 pass from Kyle Quinlan (Teddy Peters kick) 6:39
MAC-FG Teddy Peters 10 11:16
MAC-TD Brad Fochesato 11 pass from Kyle Quinlan (Teddy Peters kick) 12:19
MAC-TD Kyle Quinlan 14 run (Teddy Peters kick) 11:43
ACA-TD Michael Squires 19 pass from Kyle Graves (Ryan Begin kick) 15:00
MAC-TD Joey Nemet 14 run (Teddy Peters kick) 2:14