Tristin Park caught a pass from quarterback Ben Maracle to give Ottawa the lead in the fourth quarter. Photo: Greg Mason/Sports Services
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Gees still perfect at home after massive comeback win Saturday

The Gee-Gees football team was back in action on Saturday afternoon for a bought with the Laurier Golden Hawks at Gee-Gees Field. Following a 44-27 win last week against Queen’s, Jamie Barresi’s troops looked to build on their momentum and finish their two-game homestand on a high note.

Things didn’t start the way the Gee-Gees wanted when less than four minutes into the game the Golden Hawks managed to push Ottawa’s defence back to their 46th line and kick for a field goal.

The Gees struggled to leave their side of their field in the first half as their offence failed to gain almost any yardage, leaving the defence to hold down the fort half a dozen times in the quarter before pushing Laurier back and giving their offence a fresh start.

 After one quarter the team from Waterloo, Ont. led 5-0.

The second quarter wasn’t any easier for Ottawa. Quarterback Ben Maracle couldn’t seem to complete a pass and Laurier was muting the Gees ground game. But late in the half, Maracle found receiver Dylan St. Pierre open for a 30-yard pass to get Ottawa within field goal distance from the Laurier goal line. Failing to gain any yards on the next two plays, Campbell Fair entered the game and kicked a field goal to get Ottawa within two points of the Golden Hawks.

The Golden Hawks led 5-3 at the half in a very defensively-oriented ball game. 

“It was really frustrating we didn’t get the protection we would like, I can’t really say it was a protection problem we got away from their heavy D-line but made plays when we needed but we missed a lot and we’re gonna do better next week,’’ said Maracle after the game. “It was really frustrating, because we really weren’t there for the first three quarters, me especially, just not having good chemistry.’’

The Gee-Gees got back on the field in the third quarter and struggled some more, but this time Laurier would cash in big time on the Gees’ struggles. 

On the first drive of the quarter, Laurier running back Levondre Gordon rushed seven times to reach the Ottawa endzone and give his team a 12-3 lead. Laurier then added to their lead two drives later when Gordon, again, would push through the Gee-Gees defence to give the Golden Hawks a 19-3 lead. Laurier then kicked another field goal to widen their lead to 22-3.

On the next drive, and down by 19, the Gees failed again to muster any offensive power and were forced to punt. Loic Legendre punted 66 yards into the Golden Hawks zone and Laurier’s Malcolm Thompson fumbled the ball, giving Gee-Gees defensive back Rashad Spooner the opportunity to rush him and recover the ball in Laurier’s endzone for a touchdown. Fair kicked the extra point, cutting Laurier’s lead to 22-10.

Photo: Greg Mason/Sports Services

A couple drives later the Golden Hawks were forced to punt, but punter Nathan Mesher messed up his kick, sending the ball only 21 yards and right into the hands of Kalem Beaver. Beaver rushed down the field for a touchdown to slash Laurier’s lead to 22-17 following Fair’s kick.

“The punt block, the fumble back there, all these things are big things,” head coach Barresi said. “The thing we told the kids is to keep hustling, make a play and at the beginning of the fourth these kids just kept hustling and I got to give them credit for that, it’s not on me, it’s on them they hustled and they deserved it.”

On their next drive, Laurier tried to push through Ottawa’s defence on their own 46-yard line on a third-down to no avail, forcing a turnover. A struggling Maracle finally found both receivers Daniel Oladejo and Tristin Park on successive passes to give Ottawa its first lead of the afternoon and complete the fourth-quarter comeback.

‘’It was all emotion for me and the receivers (on that drive), we wanted to win right from the start it didn’t go the way we wanted but we got one (touchdown) in the end,” Maracle said “Me and Tristin [Park], we saw each other and I found a way to get the ball to him.”

With the score 23-22 Ottawa and under two minutes to go, the Gees managed to push Laurier back in its zone for a safety to take the game 25-22.

After the game, running back Donald Shaw spoke of how big that safety was to his team assurance.

“It was long-awaited, it was overdue, I’m just glad we got there and we played well.”

The Gee-Gees stat line was a bit uglier than last week against Queen’s, with Maracle completing 13 out of 34 pass opportunities for only 172 yards in total. The Gees also only rushed for 28 yards compared to 239 for Laurier, something the Gees will need to work on in practice. On the bright side, Maracle threw no interceptions, a problem that had plagued both him and Sawyer Buettner against McMaster and Queen’s.

The Gees will be in Toronto next week as they face off with the York Lions at 5 p.m next Saturday. The Grey and Garnet will be back in Ottawa on Oct. 5 to take on the Carleton Ravens at TD Place in the much-anticipated 51st Panda Game.