The University of Toronto Varsity Blues were done no favours by the OUA schedulers this year. They opened up against three nationally ranked playoff teams from the previous year. After visiting the Guelph Gryphons and the McMaster Marauders, Toronto faced off against the number six-ranked Carleton Ravens for their home opener in Week 3.
Carleton had some trouble early but ultimately pulled away near the closing of the second quarter. The game was out of reach for Toronto by the time the halfway mark came up.
Varsity Blues Unable to Fend Off Ravens
Defence Keeping the Game Close Early
U of T was able to keep the game close for the majority of the first half while the defence was still fresh and full of energy. The Blues, facing 3rd-and-1 from the two-yard, line forced a fumble from Ravens quarterback Jesse Mills when the sneak play didn’t work. After the ball popped loose, Jaiden McBride scrambled to jump on the ball and took away the scoring opportunity.
After Mills seemed to be gaining a rhythm, Richard Gillespie made a play on a deep pass to intercept the ball and kept Carleton off the board. The Ravens were able to score thanks to a long 77-yards punt return from 2015 All-Canadian Tunde Adeleke.
28 points in less than Five minutes
The Varsity Blues defence kept them in the game early but the offence couldn’t put anything together, giving the Ravens plenty of opportunities to take shots before erupting on offence. Marcus Hobbs couldn’t complete the ball and when he was on target, his receivers had brick hands dropping catches.
Hobbs was 3/15 at halftime and the only offence Toronto could manage came from running back Alex Malone with 10 rushes for 84 yards.
Toronto’s defence has talent and the ability to make plays. They were left out on the field too long and often, were burnt out by the time Carleton took a strangle hold on the game, erupting for 28 points in the final five minutes of the second half.
Nate Behar had two touchdown receptions coming in on 19 and 14-yard catches, Jayde Rowe had a 25-yard scoring rush, the Blues took two safeties at various different points in the mayhem and it was all topped off by a 48-yard field goal from Michael Domagala as time expired. The Ravens were up 35-0 at half.
Post-game a very disappointed head coach Greg Gary reflected on the first half the team played.
“Defence did what they needed to do for us early on, our offence had a lot of trouble finding themselves, once they broke and they couldn’t get rolling, it really affected the whole team.”
Deadliest Returner in the Country
Adeleke was an All-Canadian kick returner last year, and he burned the Blues in the return game for 196 yards and two touchdowns on five attempts. It’s shaping up that he will be on the honoured roster at the end of the year. Adeleke provides explosiveness to an already good Carleton team.
Adeleke has three punt return touchdowns now in 2016 and is able to make coverage teams pay for over-pursuing, by making sharp cuts and effectively setting up blocks. He has the ability to make teams pay consistently as one of the most explosive athletes on the field.
No Comeback for Toronto
After all was said and done when the time clock read 0:00, the Ravens added another 30 points in the second half, handing the Blues a 65-7 loss. Behar, a 2016 East-West bowl attendee and CFL prospect, caught three touchdown passes while accumulating 129 receiving yards.
Toronto was able to get on the board when Jamal Johnson scored on an 85-yard interception touchdown off back-up quarterback Tanner Dejong, after the score was already 58-0.
TOUCHDOWN!!! Jamal Johnson picks off DeJong and runs it 85 yards for the TD! pic.twitter.com/wTVYlF9KgU
— Varsity Blues (@Varsity_Blues) September 10, 2016
Toronto will play at home next week hosting their arch rival the York Lions in the Red Blue Bowl. If Toronto wants any chance at hoisting the Argo Cup the offence will need to make some changes. The Lions are 2-1 after beating the Windsor Lancers at home in Week 3.
“York’s a good football team and from what I’ve on seen on tape we’re going to have to prepare ourselves to play a good York football team next week,” said Gary.
Toronto can’t afford to lose another game if they want to control their play-off destiny, an 0-4 start would almost assuredly knock them out of contention. Carleton returns home in Week 4 to take on nationally ranked #9 Wilfred Laurier.
Main Photo credit Barak Falkovitz.