U of T Varsity Blues football couldn’t hold back the Ottawa Gee-Gees in a crucial playoff-determining match-up in the capital city, losing 45-9. The Blues came into Saturday’s contest with strong hopes that they’d make the playoffs for the first time in 22 years.
The matchup would have seen the winner grab the sixth and final playoff spot for the OUA playoffs if the Laurier Golden Hawks lost to the Queen’s Gaels. That wasn’t the case in Kingston, with Laurier defeating Queen’s 49-26. With the win, Laurier grabs the sixth playoff position for the second consecutive season.
It was the last game of fifth-year quarterback Simon Nassar’s career. Nassar went 21-for-49 for 257 yards, also rushing twice for 17 yards and one touchdown. The long-serving quarterback has been a leader of the program longer than he’s been the starter.
Shuffled between second and third on the depth chart for the majority of his Varsity Blues career, Nassar made a significant impact last year, not only showcasing himself as the best quarterback for the Blues but arguably as the best in the OUA—Nassar has record-setting performances attached to his name. Even though Nassar won’t be on the field next year receiving calls from coaches Greg Gary and Luigi Costanzo, his mental approach to every game, practice, and meeting will likely pass on to the minds and attitude of the rookies and leaders of next year.
Third-year running back and UTM criminology student Lukas Gavac of Mississauga rushed 12 times for 81 yards.
Also in his last game for the Blues is receiver Boris Isakov, who made six catches for 97 yards. Isakov had a four-year career playing football for the Queen’s Gaels, until he transferred to Toronto for his master’s program three years ago.
Rahul Madan, who favoured the left boundary and made some spectacular catches, caught five receptions for 92 yards.
Third-year UTM student Nick Hallett has been an exceptionally bright spot for the Blues defense this year. Hallett had six tackles and one forced fumble in the loss.
The Blues couldn’t handle the Gee-Gees’ aerial attack or their quarterback, Derek Wendel. Wendel went 34-for-46 for 564 yards and four touchdowns adding 53 yards on the ground rushing four times. With the game’s personal accomplishment, Wendel set the single-season Canadian Interuniversity Sports record for passing yards with 3,136. He also rewrote the record books with 346 attempts and 216 completions.
UTM’s TJ Morton and punter for the Varsity Blues punted a season high 12 times, averaging 43.1 and kicking one for a game-high 54 yards. Morton was arguably the best punter in the CIS this year, recording a 40.2 average with 17-of-68 kicks landing inside the 20-yard line.