Courtesy Varsity Blues.

The University of Toronto Varsity Blues football team opened their 154th season with a 55­–33 loss to defending Yates Cup champions McMaster Marauders on Sunday at Varsity Stadium.

Blues quarterback Simon Nassar completed 29 of 49 pass attempts, throwing for 361 yards and one touchdown. Divante Smith powered his way through McMaster’s defensive line, rushing for 112 yards with 18 carries and scoring three touchdowns. Smith put Toronto up 23–17 with 7:36 left in the first half.

“Divante Smith is a special kid, he’s got some wheels and he’s mr. positive and always perky in the huddle and gets guys motivated,” said Blues quarterback Simon Nassar, who also praised the efforts of offensive linemen, Van Keerebroeck, DJ Sprukulis, and Kevin and Sammy MacMillian, saying, “those five guys played their tails off… those guys should get full credit.”

Anthony Iafrate tacked on a 22-yard field goal for the Blues, to which the Marauders responded by scoring a quick touchdown before the half. Second-year quarterback Asher Hastings threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Vandervoot for the score.

The high-powered Blues offense led McMaster 26–23 at halftime; however, the games’ momentum shifted in McMaster’s favour when the Marauders linebacker Steve McNicholl delivered a big hit on Domenic Battistella, forcing a fumble.

McMaster converted on the turnover and took the lead with a touchdown catch by Vandervoot — putting them in the lead 33­–26. The CIS all-Canadian receiver finished the game with an impressive 10 catches for 168 yards and four touchdowns, including one of the games’ highlights: an 89-yard reception in the second quarter.

“There’s definitely some plays we need to look back on film and correct,” Nassar said, adding, “the big one was the first play of the second half on the punt we fumbled and they got quick score, that didn’t help us. But overall I think we played a pretty good game.”

“We were ahead of the Yates Cup champions at halftime,” said Nassar, adding that, “there are a lot of positives to build off of and last year there weren’t many positives in the Laurier loss. This is a big stepping stone, we feel really good about Windsor coming to us next week, so it should be good.”

The Blues return to action next Monday, September 7 when they host the Windsor Lancers at 7pm at Varsity Stadium.

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