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photo by Mico Mazza

Gee-Gees men’s football home game sees a 19-6 victory

To the 6,270 boisterous first years cheering in Frank Clair Stadium, the Gees were conquering heroes. They successfully maintained their winning streak—bringing their record to 2-0—and offered entertainment worthy of a home opener with the Highland Mist pipers and drummers in addition to the Gees’ mascot dancing in the stands. Yet something was missing that fateful Sept. 10. Maybe the expectations were too high, or perhaps the home-field advantage shot some nerves—because although they ended up victorious 19-6 against the Queen’s University Golden Gaels, the University of Ottawa’s football team left much to be desired.

“We executed OK,” said head coach Jean-Philippe Asselin after the game. “But the main thing was [the] penalties and things we control.”

“The execution wasn’t perfect, but it was still good,” he said with a smile.

The game marked the team’s home opener, and the first time these players competed in front of their own. Newly chosen fourth-year quarterback Aaron Colbon—who succeeds Brad Sinopoli, the 2010 Hec Crighton winner and draft  pick of the Calgary Stampeders—labelled this as the reason for the offence’s slow start.

“I think what it was [is] that everyone was a bit nervous, especially myself—first game in front of the home crowd, a lot of fans in the stands. We just had to get into the game a bit, get into our groove and start scoring,” said Colbon. “A few mistakes [were made], but we shook them off and got the win, and that’s what counts.”

The first quarter of the game saw the Gees in a standstill with the Gaels’ defensive line. Queen’s scored a field goal thanks to kicker Dan Village, while the Gees returned an attempted field goal by fourth-year kicker Matt Falvo, resulting in a one-point rouge. With neither team able to break through the other’s defence, the tally remained 3-1.

Although the game continued to show incomplete passes and complete defensive blocks from both sides, Colbon made a 47-yard pass to fourth-year receiver Bogdon Raic for the first touchdown of the game. With four minutes remaining until halftime, the Gees ran a second touchdown when third-year receiver Simon Le Marquand caught a corner pass from Colbon, widening their lead to 15-4.

Asselin attributed the sudden pick-up of momentum to the team’s desire to win, especially after such a dismal first quarter.

“I think that helps—when you shoot yourself in the foot and you are a little harder on yourself. So I think that is what happened in their drive,” he said.

Third-year running back Brendon Gillanders played a significant part in the Gees’ win, running 161 yards with 24 carries and securing many first downs for the Garnet and Grey. After being benched due to an injury for the majority of last season, he is happy to be back on the field.

“It just feels absolutely amazing to contribute in any way possible to help the team win. [We’re] not too concerned with individual stats as long as we get the ‘W’ at the end of the game,” he said.

While the offence was able to gain an extra few points in the second half of the game, it was the defensive line that held the team together.

“The defence won this game, in my mind,” said Asselin. “We scored only two touchdowns on offence, but when the [other team] scores six points, that means our offence had the ball a lot.”

Although the game wasn’t executed to the high standards of the players and coaches, no one could deny them their 19-6 victory and current 2-0 standing. The cheers from the crowd were proof of that.

The Gees will travel to Western on Sept. 17 to compete against the Mustangs, who are currently ranked second on the Canadian Interuniversity Sports Top 10 list.

—Katherine DeClerq