Western falls to McMaster in Yates Cup

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Injuries and missed opportunities highlighted a tough afternoon for the Western Mustangs, as the team ended its season with a 29-15 loss to the McMaster Marauders in the 112th edition of the Yates Cup.

“It was just one of those days; we didn’t catch any breaks,” said Mustangs Head Coach Greg Marshall. “We missed some wide-open shots early in the first half where we could have taken a sizable lead, sometimes those things happen.”

The Mustangs took a 10-0 lead midway through the first quarter. However, McMaster ran off 22 unanswered points, en route to the school’s eighth Yates Cup title and first since 2014.

Mustangs QB Chris Merchant was under pressure in the first half taking several big hits, including a sack that knocked him out of the game. He returned for the last play of the game, and his career at Western.

“I feel bad for Chris. He wanted to go back in and was ready to go back in, but it was a decision in consultation with our doctors that it was in the best interest of his health. Sometimes, you have to do what’s best for your kids – and they’re my kids,” Marshall said.

At 8-0 on the season, Western had been the top-seeded team in the country.

McMaster will play the Calgary Dinos in the Mitchell Bowl next week, with a chance to move on to the national championship.

The Vanier Cup will have fresh faces in it this year, as Western’s opponent from last year, Laval Rouge et Or, was upset 25-10 by the Montreal Carabins.

Merchant, along with Andrew Thurston and Mackenzie Ferguson, are the only members of the team that played out their five years of eligibility. There are many other members of the senior class that although they still have time left on their athletic eligibility will graduate from their academic programs.

Marshall expressed his appreciation for those players post-game.

“We’re going to miss Chris and there will be a couple of other players graduating that we will lose and we will miss them all,” said Marshall, who believes the turnover of players won’t be as large from this year’s group as there was last year.