The U SPORTS ninth-ranked Gee-Gees football team opened their 2019 season with a 35-22 loss to the sixth-ranked McMaster Marauders in Hamilton on Sunday.
The Marauders got on the board first with a three-yard touchdown pass in-front of a rain soaked home opener crowd at Ron Joyce Stadium.
Leading 7-0 through most of the first frame, McMaster's first mistake almost immediately turned into points for the Gee-Gees. Second-year defensive back Emmanuel Aboagye-Gyan intercepted a pass at the Marauder 26-yard-line, setting the Gee-Gees offence up with outstanding field positioning.
The Gee-Gees extended their lead in the second quarter on a Campbell Fair field goal, however McMaster responded with back-to-back field goals of their own to claim a 13-10 lead heading into halftime.
Another Fair field goal and a safety gave the Gee-Gees the lead for the majority of the third quarter, but the Marauders once again responded taking the lead from the Gee-Gees for the final time.
In the fourth quarter, redshirt freshman QB Ben Maracle came into the game following Buettner going down with an injury. The Gee-Gees pushed valiantly down 13 points, as Maracle and the offence marched the field and scored, cutting into the McMaster lead, making it a 28-22 ball game.
The Ottawa defence forced a quick two-and-out, giving the ball back to the Gee-Gees offence with 1:20 left on the clock. A quick interception returned for a touchdown put the game to rest sealing the 35-22 win for the Marauders.
"Our defense was relentless," said Gee-Gees head coach Jamie Barresi. "They held us in there and did a lot of really positive things. We have a lot of things to straighten out on offence, but I was very impressed with how Ben handled things late in the game."
Matheson led the way for the offence, tallying eight receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown. Kalem Beaver had a solid day with the ball in his hand, racking up 178 all-purpose yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tramayne Stephen impressed with five tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pass break up. While linebacker Pat Madore led the team with 5.5 tackles and one for loss in his first ever game for the Gee-Gees.
Overall, despite the result, the players and coaches are optimistic going forward into a home opener matchup with Queen's.
"There were a lot of things we can learn from," said Beaver. "We're going to have a good week preparing for Queen's. It was definitely not the outcome we wanted, we know we're a better team than what we showed today."
Barresi has little doubt that his team will rebound from the game, soon getting to where the team needs to be.
"We have to protect better up front and keep the defence off the field. Those are the big things, we have to make plays."