Despite a 54-31 win over the host York University Lions on Saturday, University of Ottawa Gee-Gees head coach Denis Piché couldn’t hide his frustration over his team’s performance.
After holding a 33-10 lead at halftime, the No. 9 ranked Gee-Gees [5-2] allowed the Lions to outscore them 21-7 in the third.
From there, Ottawa quarterback Bradley Sinopli threw a touchdown and ran in for another in the final quarter to secure the victory and an OUA playoff berth.
The third-year pivot was 22-of-34 passing for 266 yards with two majors and another three scores on 137 yards rushing. But even his terrific day didn’t keep the Gee-Gees head coach from stressing to his club a better collective effort is needed.
“We told our guys York was going to play a great game and they were going to come and compete and they probably played their best game of the year,” Piché said.
“On the other end, we showed our youth and immaturity and I hope the guys understand it doesn’t matter who you play, if you don’t execute, at the end of the day, it’s going to nip you in the butt and that’s almost what happened to us today.”
Piché added his team did not show enough consistency through all four quarters saying “it’s probably our worst game this year.
“From beginning to end, this was a game where our guys we’re not mentally prepared and this victory doesn’t feel good at all.”
Despite the Lions loss, their 18th in a row dating back to Oct 6, 2007, head coach Mike McLean is beginning to see some progress as York [0-7] prepares for its final game of the season on the road against the Waterloo Warriors next Saturday.
“We’re finally putting it all together with a young team, with as many injuries as we’ve had,” the coach said ” I’m pretty proud.”
But quarterback Nick Couto, who could not match his Ottawa counterpart’s gaudy numbers, completed just 9-of-24 passing for 149 yards. He says his teammates are anxiously hoping for their first victory in over two years.
“We always seem to spot them a few points in the first quarter and then we have to work our way back,” the sophomore signal caller said.
“We get excited and we’re right there and it was good to have that atmosphere but we’re dying to actually win these games.”
Ottawa hit first
Sinopli got the Gee-Gees on the board in the first quarter, with a 20-yard touchdown run at 6:19 to put Ottawa up 6-0.
After a safety, a one-yard touchdown run by the Lions’ Myles Daly at 12:14 cut Ottawa’s lead to 9-7 by the end of the opening quarter.
Throughout the day, York seemingly had no answer for the Gee-Gees quarterback, who broke for a 68-yard touchdown score 44 seconds into the second to put Ottawa up 15-7.
Gee-Gees running back Jordan Wilson-Ross continued his team’s impressive rushing performance with a one-yard run to put Ottawa up 25-7 at 10:45 after Matt Salvo kicked a 25-yard field goal three minutes earlier.
Sinopli then threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to receiver Matthew Bolduc three seconds before halftime for a 23-point Gee-Gees lead.
Lions start second half strong
York started the third strongly despite the deficit as Coutu rushed for a four-yard score at 8:42.
Wilson-Ross managed to score his second touchdown at 12:03, but the Lions’ Jacob Appiah ran in for a one-yard score at 13:54, after a 64-yard run a play earlier.
A Wilson-Ross fumble at 14:25 inside the Ottawa 28-yard line allowed linebacker Rob Thomas to scoop the ball up and run it into the end zone, cutting the Gee-Gees lead to just nine.
But Sinopli ended any chance for a Lions comeback in the fourth, first connecting with wideout Steven Hughes for a 17-yard touchdown at 5:48, before running it in himself from the York one-yard line at 11:52 for his third rushing score.
The Gee-Gees will head back to Ottawa for their final game against the Windsor Lancers, and Piché anticipates his club will be a far more focused group.
“We got the right kids, we got the talent, we got the speed, we got the size, we got all we need,” he said.
“But if you don’t bring it between the two ears, we’re going to be stuck in a crazy game like this, where quite frankly it didn’t have to be that way.”