Marauders Bounce Back in Home Opener Win over Lions 

Hamilton, ON– A week after the McMaster Marauders football team lost to the Carleton Ravens to open the season, McMaster responded with an 39-1 win over the York Lions.

“Certainly a sense of urgency,” Marauders head coach Stefan Ptaszek called the response after losing to Carleton. 

In their home opener against York, it was a low scoring first quarter (McMaster led 4-0 after a pair of safeties) before the scoring picked up.

Turnovers and punts marked the opening quarter. McMaster’s defence pinned York deep in their own zone a few times – part of their stellar defensive performance.

Meanwhile offensively, McMaster moved the ball up the field but couldn’t find the end zone. York’s defence held strong, coming up with numerous second down stops. 

Benjamin McDonald hit two field goals before the Marauders scored a safety to go up 12-0. 

McMaster almost broke through after receiver Jacob Patten caught the ball in stride, spun off a defender and ran to the end zone. However, the touchdown was called back due to a penalty. 

Patton made another big catch and run shortly afterwards while Marauders quarterback Andreas Dueck found Dima Ignajatovic for the team’s first touchdown. 

The home team continued to score in the second half as Dueck hit Nicholas Adair in the end zone. MacDonald added a few more field goals while backup quarterback Keagan Hall completed a touchdown pass to David Bazzo. 

The triumph marked McMaster’s 23rd straight victory over York. The Marauders move to 1-1 while the Lions fall to 0-2. 

Attacking Defence Improves From Season Opener

The defence’s performance stood out as they held York to 13 first downs, 25 yards rushing and 166 yards passing. 

“I didn’t see many white [York] jerseys behind us. Everything was in front of us,” Ptaszek said of the defence. “We were rallying and making good tackles, forced a bunch of fumbles, 50/50 balls.”

Ptaszek pointed out how having an attacking defence – led by defensive coordinator Scott Brady – can lead to receivers being open at times. That wasn’t the case against York. 

“It’s really fun to see that they can attack and everything stays in front of them,” Ptaszek noted. “It looks like high percentage football and they’re rolling their sleeves up and pining their ears back and going after everyone.” 

The Marauders had three interceptions – two by Devonte Ballantyne and one by Josh Cumber. 

Ptaszek pointed out how the secondary was saavy in a zone defence, attacking the football and playing from depth. Ballantyne said the team’s film study and communication contributed to their strong defence.

He said the film study helped them recognize formations and certain down and distance situations. They players also talked about what they saw on tape together as a group. 

“Our D line played amazing,” Ballantyne added. “The quarterback wanted to roll out, our D line forced them to make some tough decisions and luckily they went our way and we got interceptions.” 

The third-year defensive back said their week one loss to Carleton emphasized how important it was for everyone to do their job and trust one another. A key moment came after Carleton scored on them. 

“We were kind of in shock…that really hit us and it changed the momentum for us,” he said. “We started not trusting one another after that happened.” The focus this week was on the players all doing their jobs. The defensive backs came together and talked about how they needed to improve and communicate better 

That applied to Ballantyne himself, who called his performance against Carleton “probably my worst defensive game ever played.” He said it motivated him going into the game against York. 

“There were some points I just felt selfish,” he said. “I feel like I didn’t do my responsibility and I wanted to make a play…I also have to understand that I don’t have to make every single play because there’s 11 other guys beside me who can make all those plays as long as I do my job.” 

Red Zone Production Remains Area for Improvement 

Offensively, the red zone production is still an area for them to get better at. “I feel like we’ve got issues and things we’ve got to sort out in the red zone,” Ptaszek said. He said settling for field goals cost them in the Carleton game. 

“It could just be a case of getting the monkey off our backs,” Dueck noted. “On offence, we did much better after we did much better after we got the first [touchdown against York].” 

McMaster’s Andreas Dueck (Photo: Rick Zazulak/McMaster Athletics)

Dueck finished with 26-34 completions for 338 yards and two touchdowns. The team finished with 500 total yards of offence, including 114 yards rushing. 

Dueck said an area the team did improve in was reducing mental errors and not beating themselves. 

“It’s about reps. It’s about just focusing and locking in,” Dueck added. “We’ve got some new guys on offence. We’ve got to just be able to clean up stuff and know exactly where everyone’s going to be on every play.” 

The Marauders will have a chance to continue improving their focus and red zone offence when they take on the Ottawa Gee-Gees at home on Sept. 10. On a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, they celebrated their first victory of the season. 

“I kid with our student athletes that the sun is a little brighter, your beverages are a little colder and the world’s a little better when you win a football game,” Ptaszek said. “We’ve been working hard since August 12th…I’m glad they got some positive feedback from the effort that they’re putting in.” 

Featured Image: Marissa Settimi/McMaster Athletics

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