The York University Lions football team is back in action at home on Saturday afternoon as the squad welcomes the No. 5 nationally ranked McMaster University Marauders to Alumni Field.
This contest represents the Lions’ inaugural International Student Festival, where York University students from around the world will get to see football up close, many of them for the first time. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Fans unable to make it to the stadium can also watch live online on OUA.tv.
The Lions are still looking for their first win of the season and will be in tough against a solid McMaster squad that is one of the strongest in the country.
The game promises to be a defensive battle as both teams have so far been stronger on that side of the ball. The Marauders rank third in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) in yards allowed, at just 332.3 per game. They lead the league with nine interceptions and are third with 10 sacks. The Lions have given up 396.7 yards per game, good for seventh in the conference.
McMaster has the OUA’s top two tacklers, linebacker Nate Edwards and defensive back Nolan Putt. York’s leaders are linebacker Damian Jamieson and safety Jacob Janke.
The offence will take place primarily through the air, as both squads are in the top four in the OUA in passing yards per game and at the bottom in rushing yards. The quarterback duel will see York’s Brett Hunchak go up against McMaster’s Andreas Dueck, who are fifth and second, respectively, in passing yards so far this season. Luther Hakunavanhu leads the Lions with 16 receptions for 277 yards, while Dueck’s favourite target has been Michael Bazzo with 18 catches for 195 yards.
The last time the Lions were home, they played a tight game against the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks that ended 18-10 in favour of the visitors. Last week, they were defeated by the University of Guelph Gryphons 53-19 in a game that was only separated by a touchdown (26-19) when the fourth quarter began.
The Marauders are coming off a loss last week to the powerhouse Western University Mustangs, the two-time defending Yates Cup champions who currently rank second in U SPORTS at an undefeated 3-0. The Marauders tied the game at 17-17 early in the third quarter before the Mustangs pulled away with 17 unanswered points to win 34-17.
Prior to that contest, the Marauders won their first two games of the season, defeating the Gryphons 25-10 in the opener on the road and then the Ottawa Gee-Gees at home by a 35-22 score.
Saturday’s game is the first meeting between the two teams since 2017, as they did not face each other last year. The previous matchup resulted in a 32-2 victory for McMaster.
The Lions will play back-to-back games at home, returning to the gridiron on Saturday, Sept. 21 for the annual homecoming game against the Gee-Gees beginning at 5 p.m.