TORONTO, ONT – You could feel the intensity in the air. Leading up to kickoff, many fans from both contingents wore their respective teams colours. The purple and gold for Laurier. The blue and white for Toronto. The Varsity Blues were coming off a massive win against the #10 ranked Carleton Ravens. Some would have called that an upset.
On Saturday, the Toronto Varsity Blues failed to build off their win against Carleton, as they fell to the Laurier Golden Hawks 25-20, to move to 1-2 on the OUA season after three games.
Despite the Golden Hawks surrendering the first point of the game on a rouge, they set the tone with their offence. Laurier had a clear trend in their offence in the first half which was to be aggressive on 3rd down. The Varsity Blues defence really struggled on those 3rd downs and that proved to be crucial as the Golden Hawks marched down the field as Ben McAlpine scored his 2nd touchdown of the season.
For the most part, the Varsity Blues offence struggled to get their offence in a rhythm. 6 punts in the 1st half against a football program like Laurier is not good enough. It wouldn’t be until the 9 minute mark of the 2nd quarter where Adam Williams took the handoff and scored the Varsity Blues first touchdown of the game.
It took all of 34 seconds for the Golden Hawks to respond as Taylor Elgersma found Ethan Jordan for the touchdown.
With only 46 seconds left in the first half, the Varsity Blues knew they had to cut into the lead by any means. Going down 17-8 against a team that has shown over the years they can put up points at will was not in the plans. In the most Canadian way ever, the Varsity Blues catch the Golden Hawks off guard as with 13 seconds left the Varsity Blues decided to punt and they scored the rouge to go down 17-9.
The 2nd half was much of the same for the Golden Hawks. On their opening drive, Taylor Elgersma and Tanner Nemes made for a great combination between Elgersma slinging the ball downfield mixed in with explosive runs by Nemes. As they got into the red zone, however, it was Quentin Scott who took control and ran it into the end zone to extend the Golden Hawks lead.
Needing a score to continue to keep the game in reach, Kinsale Philip took control of the offence by throwing the ball to his #1 target throughout the game, Michael Lehman. However, staring down a 2nd and long the Golden Hawks were called with unnecessary roughness which extended the Varsity Blues drive and the offence proceeded to score as Philip found Lehman in the endzone on a patented post-corner route.
Once again, the Golden Hawks shot themselves in the foot by committing a defensive pass interference penalty on the two-point try. On the second attempt to convert, the Blues punched it in to cut into the Golden Hawks lead 25-17.
Throughout the stadium, you could feel the momentum shift. When the offence needed a stop, the Varsity Blues defence got them one. Despite the Varsity Blues defence forcing a fumble late in the 4th quarter, the Golden Hawks defence stepped up and forced a turnover on downs.
QUOTABLE: Toronto coach Greg Marshall
“I’ll give our kids credit, they fought hard the whole game, but sometimes we were our own worst enemies out there and made it hard on ourselves, but give credit to Laurier, they’re a good football team and made a few more plays than we did.”
- Taylor Elgersma did a surreal job escaping the pressure from the front 4 of the Varsity Blues. In the red zone, Ben McAlpine is a name to watch out for in future games. He has great chemistry with Elgersma.
- Penalties. Whether it was the Varsity Blues or the Golden Hawks. It seemed like there were many drives that should’ve stalled but were extended by defensive pass interference or unneccessary roughness.
- The rouge. Just the weirdest part of today’s game was at the end of the 1st half when the Varsity Blues surprised the Golden Hawks defence and punted with 13 seconds left on the clock and no Golden Hawks receiver back there to get the ball. Very Canadian way to end the half.
Photo credit: Tiffany Luke/Laurier Golden Hawks