Varsity shows young Redmen the Blues in 135th preseason opener for McGill
MONTREAL -- Senior quarterback Simon Nassar completed 15 of 17 passes for 188 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Toronto Varsity Blues defeated McGill 36-3 in CIS preseason football at Percival Molson Stadium, Friday.
U of T snapped McGill's two-game win streak in a long-standing head-to-head series which dates all the way back to 1881. The Varsity Blues lead the series with a lifetime 96-52-6 record. The Redmen haven't defeated Toronto at Molson Stadium since a 17-0 whitewash in 1969 to capture the Yates Cup league title.
It was a disappointing kick-off to McGill's 135th season as a young Redmen squad -- which dressed 29 freshmen, 13 sophomores, 14 juniors and five seniors -- generated only 190 yards of net offence. The veteran-laden Blues, which featured a dozen seniors, racked up a whopping 517 with an impressive no-huddle offence and held a 28-12 advantage in first downs.
The game was inundated with a sea of red flags as 39 penalties were called for 297 yards, including 205 yards of real estate charged to Toronto, which was flagged 27 times. The two teams also combined for 20 punts, seven kickoffs and five quarterback sacks.
Nassar, a fifth-year veteran who measures only 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, capped off the eight-play, 75-yard drive with a four-yard TD pass to Anthony Naccarrato which had given Toronto an early 9-0 advantage at the 7:20 mark of the first.
Toronto led 16-0 after the opening quarter and 29-0 at halftime before McGill could reply with a 15-yard field-goal by Justin Lavallee, a freshman from Ile-Bizard, Que., for the only scoring of the third quarter. The Blues added another TD in the final stanza.
Two plays after a 54-yard punt by T.J. Morton pinned McGill in deep, sophomore quarterback Joel Houle fumbled an attempted exchange with rookie running back Mike Lusikila in the endzone and U of T linebacker Owynn Lahnalampi pounced on the loose ball to give the Blues a 16-0 advantage in the final minute of the opening stanza.
Nassar then connected with Boris Isakov for a 31-yard TD romp before the second quarter was five minutes old and the rout was on. Isakov was the only U of T player to reach the century mark, hauling in six receptions for 101 yards.
Blues back-up quarterback Marcus Hobbs found Nic Stadnyk in the endzone for a 22-yard major late in the fourth. Hobbs finished with 153 passing yards, completing 11 of 17 attempts. Ethan Shafer added a 13-yard field-goal to give Toronto a 29-0 lead at 12:24 of the second quarter and a couple of safety touches and three conversions rounded out the scoring.
Among the few bright spots for McGill was return specialist Sebastien Asselin,a freshman from Joliette, Que., who collected 102 all-purpose yards, including 56 on a pair of kickoff runbacks and 46 on five punt returns.
McGill deployed four quarterbacks, including Nicolas English, a freshman from St. Constant, Que., who came on in relief of Houle and went 5-for-6 passing for 41 yards to go along with a team-high 25 rushing yards on three carries.
Houle was 7-for-16 for 38 yards and rookie pivot Matthew Mannarino was 2-for-5 for 34 yards, while Simon Cossette was 0-for-3 passing. There were no interceptions, on either side.
The quarterback quartet combined to find nine different McGill receivers, led by Jonathan Mack, who snared four passes for 24 yards.
Toronto begins their OUA season on Aug. 30 when they host McMaster.
McGill will open regular season play in the RSEQ conference on Sept. 4 when they play host to Bishop's, a team that they must beat if they want to set their sights on a playoff berth.