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Gee-Gees propel into post-season after McMaster upset

Photo credit: Remi Yuan

After a trying week, the Gee-Gees football team closed the regular season with a secure finish against the third-ranked, undefeated McMaster Marauders Oct. 22.

The last time the teams met was when the Hamilton team ended the Gees’ season in the playoffs last year. The Gee-Gees knew the game would be a test, but it could also prove that they belong amongst the upper-tier teams in the country.

Prior to kickoff, the Marauders entered Gee-Gees Field carrying the flag of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, the Hamilton-based infantry unit of fallen soldier Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. There would be a moment of silence in reflection of the events at Parliament Hill on Oct. 22, followed by the crowd singing “O Canada” without an accompanying singer.

Once the game was underway, it was clear the Gee-Gees weren’t going down without a fight. Despite allowing a touchdown on McMaster’s first drive, the team regrouped and held off the Marauders. Into the half, the Gees were only trailing 12-11.

Early in the third, Tunch Akkaya picked up a fumble and ran back for an 86-yard touchdown. This score would give the Gees their first lead in the game, only to be added to minutes later on a massive 74-yard touchdown catch by Ian Stewart.

The Gee-Gees defence would step-up and shutdown all but one of Mac’s drives for the remainder of the game. In the end, the Gee-Gees clinched the 38-18 win.

Ettore Lattanzio, the Gees’ defensive captain and a potential frontrunner for the J. P. Metras Trophy, said the team knew it would be a hard game and was pleased with the outcome.

“We knew who they were, we knew what they’ve accomplished in the last couple of years,” said Lattanzio. “We’ve played them before so it was no surprise that this game was going to be a battle.”

Gees head coach Jamie Barresi said that every week, the next game is the biggest game of the year.

“I’ve said this continuously, I will continue to say it, and I’ll emphasize it again: We have to bury this one,” he said. “Enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow is another day and reality is setting in real fast.”

The Gee-Gees will move on to the playoffs and face a familiar foe, the Windsor Lancers, in the quarterfinals on Nov. 1. The team will have to deal with the long road trip once again, but in their last matchup it was the Gees that put up the strongest fight in the closing minutes of the game. Now with playoff football upon us once again, it’s time for the real action to start.

“We have to keep up with this tempo,” said Lattanzio. “I think that right now we just proved to the entire country that we can go with the best of them.”