Jansen Shrubb threw three touchdown passes and ran in for another as the University of Toronto Varisty Blues beat the York University Lions 45-27 in the 40th edition of the Red and Blue Bowl on Saturday.
The Toronto native, who started his first game this season, completed 20-of-31 passes for 322 yards, connecting with wide receiver Jon Wright for three scores as the Varsity Blues [1-4] emerged with their first victory and the Argo Cup at York Stadium.
“It’s certainly nice to get a win,” said Varsity Blues head coach Greg DeLaval, whose club had not won since the 2008 Red and Blue Bowl, a span of nine games.
“We’ve been moving forward all year even if the wins haven’t been there.”
DeLaval also gave high praise to Shrubb, who got the nod over injured quarterback Andrew Gillis.
“Jansen played smart and he made good decisions, especially in the first quarter,” he said.
“He was on fire throwing the football, guys were coming down with the football. It was nice to get out early and get an early lead and keep the gas on.”
While there is a sense of relief on the Toronto sidelines following today’s win, it was another frustrating game for Lions head coach Mike McLean as York [0-5] has last 16 games dating back to Sept. 29, 2007 when they defeated these same Varsity Blues.
“When you’re taking stupid penalties and fumbling the ball five times, you can’t win a ball game that way,” McLean said.
“Losing’s killing us. This is tearing us apart but on the same note, it means we’ve got to work harder now.
Shrubb’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Wright at the 10:57 of the first quarter gave the Varsity Blues an early 7-0 lead.
After the two hooked up for another score a minute and 34 seconds later, Shrubb called his own number and ran in for a one-yard touchdown at the 4:40 mark, putting up Toronto 21-0. An Andrew Lomasney field goal at 2:30 made it 24-0 for the Varsity Blues at the end of the first quarter.
Defensive back Matt Morris continued the rout in the second with a 67-yard punt return to the end zone at 6:41. But at 2:06, Lions quarterback Nick Coutu connected with wideout Johnny Peyton for a 38-yard touchdown, cutting the Varsity Blues’ lead to 31-7 at the half.
Safety Jason Marshall, who intercepted a Shrubb pass five seconds before the second quarter ended, attempted to build some momentum for the Lions early in the third, taking a 70-yard punt return back at 10:07 for a score.
However, the Lions defence could not keep the Varsity Blues offence at bay, allowing backup quarterback Jordan Scheltgen to run in another touchdown from the goal line eight minutes later to put Toronto up 38-14 at the end of the third.
After Coutu connected with Peyton for his second of the afternoon at 14:11, Shrubb found a wide-open Wright in the middle of the field, connecting for an 80-yard score at 8:41 to make the Varsity Blues’ lead 45-20. The receiver’s 10 catches and 187 yards overall are a career high.
Coutu connected with Peyton once more with 2:48 remaining in the fourth to trim the lead to 45-27, but a failed onside kick seconds later spelled the end for the Lions.
York’s next game will take them to the University of Western Ontario on Thursday where they will play the Mustangs [4-1] while the Varsity Blues look to continue their playoff push when they tangle with the McMaster Marauders [3-2] on the same day.