11/22/2014 07:33 EST | Updated 01/22/2015 05:59 EST

McMaster beats Mount Allison 24-12 to win Mitchell Bowl, advance to Vanier Cup

HAMILTON - Mark Mackie and Wayne Moore stepped up when the McMaster Marauders needed them most.

Mackie was named most valuable player of the Mitchell Bowl after a three-sack performance as McMaster downed the Mount Allison Mounties 24-12 on Saturday in the semifinal for the Canadian university football championship.

"I think we've come to the part of the season where everybody knows and can feel out what each other's doing," said Mackie, who combined with his teammates to sack Mounties quarterback Brandon Leyh nine times for a total loss of 63 yards. "I think we've got a good shot if we play our best at the Vanier so it's really exciting."

It was a career performance for Mackie, who had four sacks all season in 2013 and just two in 2014.

The OUA champion Marauders will play the Montreal Carabins in the Vanier Cup on Nov. 29 in Montreal. The Carabins slipped by the Manitoba Bisons 29-26 in the Uteck Bowl earlier Saturday.

Moore rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown to lead McMaster's offence after fellow running back Chris Pezzetta re-injured his surgically repaired left knee.

"Today's game showed our heart. Our heart and our perseverance," said Moore. "We had to persevere throughout the whole thing. It's a national semifinal and both teams are going to be good. It's not going to be a blowout at this level.

"Thank God we came out with the win."

Pezzetta ran the ball on McMaster's first offensive play of the game, gaining three yards. He stayed on the ground after being tackled, clutching his knee. Although he walked off the field under his own power, Pezzetta did not return to the game.

"He will make the trip (to Montreal) as the heart and soul of this football team," said head coach Stefan Ptaszek. "Whether he will play or not... it's very unlikely."

Ptaszek said he had no update on Pezzetta's injury, except that it would require an MRI to properly diagnose.

Pezzetta tore his ACL in 2012 and 2013, with the Marauders easing him back into the lineup for the 2014 season. His best games of the season came in the playoffs where he rushed for 143 and 144 yards.

"He should be so proud of himself, to come back from what he came back from and to do what he did," said Ptaszek. "He knows better than any of us how fragile this game of football can be. He might be in a place where he's been too often in the last three years."

QB Marshall Ferguson completed 18-of-32 pass attempts for 154 yards and an interception for McMaster.

Leyh completed 15-of-33 pass attempts for 186 yards with one TD and one interception for Mount Allison, the AUS champions. The Mounties were the only undefeated team in the CIS playoffs until the Mitchell Bowl.

McMaster returns to the Vanier Cup for the third time in four years, having beat Laval 41-38 in 2011 and losing to Laval 37-14 in 2012.

"We know the Quebec teams are great and it's in their own province, it's in their own barn," said Mackie. "We're going to have to prep for the full week but our defensive co-ordinator Greg Knox, he always comes up with a plan so I'm really excited to prep for these guys."

Tyler Crapigna kicked a 32-yard-field goal with 31.4 seconds left in the first quarter to give McMaster a 7-0 lead. Mount Allison surrendered two team safeties earlier in the quarter.

The Marauders defence was dominant in the first, sacking Leyh four times in the quarter.

Crapigna was good on a 38-yard field goal with 12:48 left in the second to put the Marauders up 10-0.

The Mounties finally scored just over five minutes later. Josh Blanchard scored on a 48-yard pass and Ryan Lambert kicked a conversion to make it 10-7.

A bad snap to Mount Allison punter Kyle McLean with 40.5 seconds left in the half resulted in McMaster's third safety of the game to make it 12-7.

Moore helped the Marauders start to pull away 4:17 into the third quarter, running six yards for a touchdown. It was the first rushing TD the top-ranked Mounties defence allowed all season. Crapigna's conversion made it 19-7 for McMaster.

Special teams came through for Mount Allison with 7:52 left in the third. Setting up for a field goal from the 42-yard line, the holder tossed the ball to defensive back Michael Bohan, who ran a reverse down to the 20-yard line.

That trickery led to a 23-yard field goal by Lambert to make it 19-10.

The Marauders tacked on two more points a minute into the final quarter, scoring their fourth safety of the game when McLean took a knee in the end zone on a Mounties punt.

A 30-yard field goal by Crapigna with 4:40 left to play gave McMaster a 24-10 lead. The Marauders surrendered a late safety to kill time off the clock.

Notes: There were 3,810 fans in attendance at McMaster's Ron Joyce Stadium. ... Heading into the game the Marauders were 1-3 when hosting Vanier Cup semifinals. ... McMaster and Mount Allison had previously never met in the CIS football playoffs.


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