The Blues finish their season and look to keep up the momentum during winter training. JESSE MCDOUGALL/THE VARSITY

The Toronto Varsity Blues closed out their 2019 campaign with a 40–26 loss against the playoff-bound Guelph Gryphons. The game began by celebrating the senior players who were playing their last game of the season. This included Mathew Duffy, Jeffrey Lam, Christian Krcilek, Matt Loenhart, Ethan Shafer, Malcom Campbell, Julian Romano, Eddie Nam, Jordan Gillespie, Matthew Renaud, and Damoy Robinson.

“I just wanted them to go out and enjoy the experience,” Head Coach Greg Marshall said of his senior players. “I wanted the rest of the guys to go out and battle hard for them and finish this off the right way… But if we’re not going to get a win, at least play hard and show some guts, and I thought we did that.”

Guelph and Toronto both went two and out on their first drives, before quarterback Clay Sequeira threw a bomb to receiver Will Corby for a 99-yard touchdown on the first play of Toronto’s next drive. With this pass, Sequeira broke a Varsity Blues record for most touchdown passes in a single season, a record which was previously held by former NFL player Dan Feraday, who had 22 touchdowns in the 1981 season.

“He’s had a great year,” Marshall said of his quarterback. “We ask a lot of him. He really responded well and the exciting part is we get him back for another year hopefully — and he had an outstanding year.”

At the next kickoff, the Guelph receiver slipped in the endzone, which gave Toronto an extra point. Guelph marched down the field and made a field goal to bring the score to 8–3 for Toronto. This would be the last time Toronto had the lead in the game, as Guelph would drive down the field after a Toronto two and out and tack on another touchdown to take a 10–8 lead.

Guelph was also able to score on their next drive, bringing the score to 17–8. On Toronto’s next drive, the bad field position led to Sequeria being pressured by the Guelph defense in the endzone, and forced him to throw the ball away. The referee called intentional grounding on this play, and Toronto gave up two points and the ball.

Toronto was able to force two turnovers, with a fumble recovery, and an interception by defensive back Jamal Johnson, but were unable to capitalize on either opportunity. However, Toronto was able to get a touchdown and a two point conversion just before half-time, with Sequeria finding receiver Nolan Lovegrove on both plays.   

On the first play of the second half, Guelph was able to march down the field and score another touchdown, making it 26–16. After Toronto was forced to punt on their next drive, Guelph made it all the way to Toronto’s one-yard line on first and made a field goal. The Blues defense stopped Guelph from running the ball into the endzone on first down, and forced a fumble on second down to prevent Guelph from getting any points from the play.

After a beautiful pass to around the midfield from Sequeira, Guelph was able to secure an interception. While Toronto’s next drive saw them get a field goal, Guelph was able to answer with a touchdown, bringing the score to 33–19.

Guelph missed a field goal on their next drive, but managed to secure a fumble and was able to tack on another touchdown, to give their offense 40 points. On Guelph’s last drive of the game, Toronto recovered a fumble inside the Gryphons’ five-yard line, and Sequeria threw the short touchdown pass with no time left on the clock to make the final score 40–26.

“[Guelph’s] a good football team. Our kids battled hard, they just made a few more plays than we did. We were running out of bodies there at the end a little bit on the [defense] line, and the linebackers. We had three [defensive linemen],” Marshall continued.

“I give our kids credit — they battled hard, they never gave up. And I’m proud of them for that,” he remarked.

“Obviously we moved the dial. We are… a better team at this point in the season than we were last year, so we’ve gained a little momentum in that regard,” he said on the growth that the Blues have seen this season. “A lot of our young guys have gotten experience. We need some more work in the weight room and on the field, and hopefully we’ll be better next year for it.”

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