Final thoughts on the Yates Cup

[Editor’s Note: This post was almost entirely written before McMaster lost to Laval 37-14 in the Vanier Cup.]

A loss is a loss. They are all disappointing. Especially so, in a big game like the Yates Cup. And as much as I believe that Guelph could have potentially pulled off an upset, the fact remains that the Marauders were the #1 team in the country, the defending Vanier Cup champions and winners of 20 straight games. The 30-13 loss was certainly nothing to be embarrassed about compared to McMaster’s 45-6 demolition of the Calgary Dinosaurs in the Mitchell Bowl.

While the Gryphons held Mac to a season low 30 points, and produced 445 yards of offense [319 yds passing & 126 yds rushing], in the end they didn’t come up with enough big plays. No way you are going to beat a team like Mac when you lose the turnover battle 4-1. Starting the game by forcing Mac to go 2-&-out, then driving the ball down to the McMaster 5-yd line was impressive. But failing to come up with a touchdown, and settling for a field goal, was costly.

What was really costly were a pair of turnovers on back-to-back drives late in the first Q. The Gryphon D did an outstanding job of containing the Mac O and only gave up 24 points in the game. [The other six points were conceded safeties.] So it was serious blow to let the Marauders begin consecutive drives on our 38 & 39 yard lines. What made me realize what turning point plays these may have been was watching the game highlights later that night on TheScore.

The first thing that jumped out at me as I watched the highlights on TV, and rewatched them several times via youtube, was that it looked like receiver A’dre Fraser is hit in the back before he touches the ball [26 secs]. I don’t think the sure handed Fraser lets that ball deflect off his hands except for the pass interference. The deflected pass was picked off by a Mac DB. The second thing is Rob Farquharson’s “fumble” [44 secs]. Based on the video, that could easily have been ruled an incomplete pass. He never appears to have secured possession of the shovel pass even though he turned up field with the ball. Take away two questionable, first quarter turnovers in our own end, that led directy to 10 McMaster points, and the game could have been very different.

One play that the referees did get right was the 2nd Mac TD. If you recall Jarryd Baines stripped the ball from the receiver at the goalline. But the fact is, the ball had already broken the plane. In the extended, Gryphon-version of the highlights, Baines, who had the lone Gryphon interception [5:20] of Kyle Quinlan, came very close to grabbing a second one[8:00]. So while the final result [30-13] was a fairly decisive win for the Marauders, the Gryphons proved that they belonged on the same field with the champs and that they were really only a few plays away from being right in it to the end.

I really thought the defense played very well. Even though Quinlan was able to complete some long passes his receivers were well covered. It speaks to his accuracy that he was able to thread the needle and complete as many passes as he did. I sort of hate to start pointing out players because you always miss someone who deserves credit. But one particular player who stood out for me as I watched was DB Bryan Dunjko. What an excellent, hard-hitting game he had. The Mac O-line, while solid, was never able to dominate the way they did in the 2nd & 3rd quarters of the season opener. Our front 7 performed well throughout. Jordan Thompson, John Rush and many more defenders made plays.

I don’t think you can watch the highlight package without being impressed with the play of Jazz Lindsey. He did throw three picks but as I indicated above I don’t believe you can blame him for the first one. Overall he had an excellent game for a sophomore QB. While points not yards win games, our O did produce an impressive 445 yards. That compares favourably to the 250 yards that Mac allowed versus Calgary a week later.

Bottomline:

  • it was a loss but a good effort and nothing to be embarrassed about
  • the Gryphons had a great season going 9-2 overall .
  • reaching the Yates Cup exceeded all expectations for this team. They overachieved.
  • this team loses some great players and leaders but the talent is there to continue to compete with the top teams in the OUA.
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