The Varsity Blues played their first nationally televised game since 2006 on Saturday, and U of T fans across the country were treated to a 21-12 win over the Guelph Gryphons.
The students who took advantage of the free admission that TCards provide formed one of the better crowds that Varsity Stadium has seen in recent years. The game was sloppy at times, but competitive throughout—and it came down to the wire.
The passing game struggled to achieve rhythm in the first quarter due to an impressive performance by a Gryphon pass defence that was relentless both in coverage and with its pass rush. Quarterback Andrew Gillis felt the pocket collapsing early on, but used his mobility to avoid sacks.
As the game progressed, Gillis became more composed. His 49-yard bomb down the sideline in the second quarter caught by Michael Prempeh (a fifth-year history major who studies at UTM) changed the course of the game.
The laser from Gillis was thrown from midfield, and when Prempeh caught it, many felt he had instantly put 6 points on the board. Prempeh explained, “I thought I scored—but apparently I was a yard short.”
Mississauga’s presence wasn’t hard to find on Saturday. Lineback Kevin Asare had 6 tackles, playing a major role in a Varsity Blues defence that swarmed to the ball, causing 5 sacks and forcing 2 turnovers while holding Guelph’s passing attack to just 107 net passing yards.
The Varsity Blues offence sputtered after it took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter. The Blues put together a few decent drives, but were unable to put any points on the board.
Fortunately, the defence was smothering for four quarters and QB Andrew Gillis came through in the clutch with a QB draw for a 26-yard touchdown with 47 seconds left in the game. It was this run that solidified the Blues’ big win, as the Gryphons’ offence was no match for a 9-point margin with less than a minute left in the game.
Head coach Greg Gary (a familiar name to those who have followed the Mississauga Warriors in recent years) was very pleased with his team’s performance and understood the importance of winning a game that was televised across the country.
Gary commented, “We’re just trying to re-establish the program on the national stage. I think Guelph’s a good football team, and we competed against them, so that’s a good sign for our program.”