Photo by Martin Bazyl
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues football team fell 41-25 to the Ottawa Gee-Gees in their 999th game in program history on Saturday, September 27 at Varsity Centre.
With the loss, the Blues drop to 1-4, while the Gee-Gees improve to 3-2 after Week 5 of OUA football action.
Blues quarterback Simon Nassar (Toronto) was 17-of-33 for 218 yards, while second-year running back Lukas Gavac (Mississauga) rushed 22 times for 165 yards and one major. Veteran receiver Kevin Bradfield had seven receptions for 98 yards, with fellow Toronto native Llevi Noel adding three catches for 57 yards on the day.
Third-year defensive back Jaiden McBride of Whitby, Ont., led the team with seven tackles and one sack, while Brittley Mokube (Brampton, Ont.) had six tackles in the loss.
Ottawa rookie Jackson Bennett got the Gee-Gees off to a great start, returning Eric Hewitson's opening kickoff 101 yards for the game's first major. Second-year kicker Lewis Ward (Kingston, Ont.) added a 21-yard field goal and Ottawa's Bryce Vieira (Montreal) added a 27-yard rushing touchdown to give the visiting team a 17-0 lead after the first 15 minutes of action.
The Gee-Gees extended their lead early in the second quarter when quarterback Derek Wendel (Belleville, Ont.) connected a 24-yard pass with third-year receiver Ben Fisher (Kingston, Ont.). That capped off a four-play, 90-yard drive as Ottawa took a 24-point lead.
The Blues got on the board on the ensuing drive. Gavac and receiver Rahul Madan rallied the troops down the field and back-up quarterback Marcus Hobbs (Mississauga) came in to finish it off with a one-yard rushing major.
Toronto seemed to build off that drive and energy when, with less than three minutes to go in the first half, Domenic Battistella (Maple, Ont.) blocked an Ottawa punt attempt and rookie running back Divante Smith (Mississauga) was there to pick it up and run it into the end zone.
The Gee-Gees were able to block the extra point and added one more score off a seven-yard Mitchell Baines reception. Ottawa led 31-13 at halftime.
Ottawa padded their lead after Greg Cherniak blocked a Toronto punt and Samuel Rupcic was there to gain possession. Wendel then ran it one-yard into the end zone.
Toronto responded as Nassar connected with Noel for a 43-yard gain, which set up a three-yard rushing touchdown from Gavac, his fifth of the season. The Blues trailed 38-20 heading into the final frame.
Hewitson kicked a 28-yard field goal on Toronto's first drive of the fourth and Ottawa conceded a safety to bring the Blues within 13 with just over 12 minutes to go in the game, but that was all that the Blues could muster. Lewis Ward added a 31-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining to round out the scoring.
Wendel was 26-of-32 for 334 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing eight times for 47 yards and one major. Ben Fisher tallied 138 yards and one touchdown on five receptions, while Vierira rushed 12 times for 105 yards and one major. Nick Lecour led all players with 14 tackles in the win.