The Varsity Blues fell 13–6 to the Queen’s Gaels as over 2,000 fans sat huddled beneath umbrellas and thin plastic ponchos while the rain poured down on Varsity Stadium on Friday night. It was a close game until the final two minutes, when miscommunication by the Blues helped carry Queen’s, leaving Toronto 2–3 this season.
It was a game of errors, as events went from bad, to worse, to utterly embarrassing. Neither team truly deserved the victory.
Despite an inefficient first half, in which Toronto’s defense held Queen’s off the scoreboard and limited quarterback Billy McPhee to only two completions for 16-yards, the Gaels were able to topple the Blues through a series of twists, turns, and momentum shifts.
Near the end of the first half, Blues fifth-year receiver, Rolli Adenmosun, who ended the day with one catch for 15-yards, was hit high while trying to reel in an Andrew Gillis pass in front of the Blues’ bench. He hit the ground hard and lay motionless as a hush came over the stadium and all eyes focused on the video board. After several minutes he was helped off the field, but did not return to the game. Blues head coach Greg Gary confirmed that Adenmosun had been taken to hospital, but he refused to speculate on the nature of the injury.
When the Blues’ offense returned to the field following the injury, Gillis, who finished the night going 21-of-45 for 277-yards, threaded a tight spiral between two defenders for a 54-yard reception by Paul de Pass at the one-yard line. However, the Blues once again failed to convert on a trip inside the red zone — a common trend throughout the night — and were forced to settle for a field goal.
“The weather was never a factor for us. They [Queen’s] gave up the ball a lot and we didn’t give it up that much,” Gary said. “We were comfortable. We just couldn’t get the ball in the end zone, and I’m going to give them credit for it.”
In the second half, Queen’s quickly gained momentum, cutting out the errors and making good use of their special teams, who shifted the momentum of the game. Midway through the third quarter, the Gael’s Giovanni Aprile blocked a Willie Sharpe punt from deep in Blues’ territory, recovering the lost ball and returning it for a touchdown. The move put Queen’s on the board, with a lead they would not relinquish.
Although the Gaels were able to produce points in the second half, the Blues’ defense continued to pressure quarterback McPhee. Toronto linebacker Wilkerson DeSouza led the Blues with eight tackles, while Adam Fehler had five tackles and recorded a sack.
The Blues’ inefficiency in the red zone and poor snaps by both the long snapper and centre proved to be the difference in the game. With time expiring, the team was forced to wish for a miraculous, strong offensive drive.
Down by seven with just under four minutes left to play, the Blues caught a much needed break, when what would have been a 71-yard Queens touchdown was brought back on an offside call against the Gaels’ offensive line.
Following the negated score, which would have sealed the victory for the visitors, Queen’s was unable to convert, and Toronto regained possession with just over two minutes to play. As the clock wound down, Gillis led a thrilling drive down the field that included a 30-yard reception by second-year receiver Alex Pierzchalski, who led the team with six catches for 88-yards.
Queen’s was then flagged for an illegal substitution penalty, which Gillis quickly followed with a strike to Michael Prempeh of Toronto that took the ball down to the three-yard line. With just under two minutes left in the game and the Blues standing just feet from the end zone, the team seemed poised to tie the game with the go-ahead score.
However, disaster struck as miscommunication between centre Jessie Raycroft and Gillis resulted in a high snap that the quarterback was unable to secure. Queen’s recovered the ball at their own 13-yard line and proceeded to slowly run down the clock.
“It’s all three facets of the game,” said Gary. “Special teams, offense, and defense. We just gave them their points on special teams today. I’d like to say it was our fault, but they played a good football game.”