The Varsity Blues football team kicked off the Thanksgiving weekend with a 34–6 loss to the Ottawa Gee Gees.
The game, between two teams with a combined 2–8 record, proved to be rather a dull affair.
“We’re a young football team and it’s going to take us a while to become a team that’s competitive all the time,” head coach Greg Gary admitted. “Ottawa deserves credit. They were a 0–5 team, but they really weren’t. These are the same guys that beat us 42–0 last year. That’s a good football team.”
On the play after Blues quarterback Simon Nassar threw his first completion of the day, he fumbled the ball, but fortunately it was recovered by Toronto’s Jason Harrison, who then also fumbled to allow Ottawa time to recover. Such was the state of the Blues’ luck.
The Blues can’t blame the loss on bad luck alone, though. Later in the first quarter, Toronto was forced into a first down and 25 after two consecutive penalties — a holding and an illegal procedure. Unable to convert, the Blues were then forced to punt from their own end zone, giving Ottawa the ball at the Toronto 28-yard line.
The Blues were flagged 20 times for 155 yards over the course of the afternoon. Indeed, the Blues more penalty yards than total offensive yards, of which Toronto had 144., for a total of seven first downs and 11 completed passes.
“We’re a young team and we’re still figuring things out,” said Gary. “They run an interesting defense. They run that sting and they bring everybody to the line of scrimmage and it’s tough to block that.”
The offense clearly faltered on a lack of productivity. Nassar started the game at quarterback for the Blues, but after only six completions and 57 yards in the first two quarters, Richard Quittenton came in behind centre for the second half.
“Richard went down a couple weeks ago and he had been out,” explained Gary. “Simon had been doing a really good job but we saw an opportunity to give Rich a shot. It didn’t look like we were moving the ball really well and we had only gotten a couple first downs.
“We’re a two quarterback system so Simon and Rich will both play and we’re just going to try to figure out which guy can fit the next game.”
The loss cannot be placed on the shoulders of the offense though; the team as a whole faltered and lacked consistency.
The defense, led by Dylan Gordon with eight tackles, allowed nearly 200 passing yards and over 180 rushing yards in the game. There were, however, some flashes of spectacular play; in the opening quarter Ottawa was forced to punt after Toronto’s Abiodun Olusoga and Owynn Lahnalampi sacked Gee Gees quarterback Colbon on consecutive plays.
The special teams unit seemed to overcome the irregular play that plagued the offense and defense. Player of the game Kevin Bradfield, had 162 return yards, including an impressive 40-yard run back. Immediately before the half, kicker Andrew Lomasney made two field goals with a 29 -ard score coming off of a Colbon fumble with two seconds left in the half.
“We’re trying to get back to being a competitive team in the OUA,” Gary noted. “There’s no panic button here. We’re exactly where we thought we’d be. Of course we’d like to win these games but we’re just developing still. Right now, we need to get that York win next week, that’s the most important game on our schedule.
“We’ll be okay. It’s just a matter of time.”