The U SPORTS ninth-ranked Gee-Gees football team improved to 5-2 on Friday night with a 54-26 win over the Windsor Lancers in their final regular season home game.
Though the Gee-Gees drew first blood on a Campbell Fair field goal, Windsor found the end zone first to take their first lead of the game.
The Lancer lead grew to 9-3 following the Gee-Gees conceding a safety, however, the hosts would get back on the board with Fair's second field goal of the night. The Gee-Gees would hit pay dirt for the first time on a 42-yard toss from Ben Maracle to Carter Matheson for the touchdown.
Just as the Gee-Gees established a lead, the Lancers responded with a touchdown to recapture a 16-13 lead before the half.
After the teams returned to the field, Windsor quickly kicked a field goal to further add to their tally. Shortly thereafter, the Gee-Gees unleashed a 41-point barrage to put the game to rest.
First a 22-yard touchdown reception by Dylan St. Pierre, followed by a rouge, and a safety had the Gee-Gees back in front. In the third quarter, Matt Mahler came in at quarterback and picked up where he left off in the Panda Game.
Mahler connected with Daniel Oladejo on a 7-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. A mere seconds later, Kevin Victome forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, the ball was scooped by Amlicar Polk, ran it in for a touchdown.
The offence kept rolling though the fourth quarter as running back Jordan Burgher sliced through the Lancers defence. Burgher found the end zone for his fifth touchdown of the year with 9:11 left in the fourth.
A Donald Shaw touchdown run and a third Fair field goal capped things off for the Gee-Gees, while Windsor scored one final time with just over a minute remaining to slightly soften the score.
Burgher finished with 162 rushing yards on 21 attempts, the most from any Gee-Gees running back since October 25, 2014. Between Maracle and Mahler, the Gee-Gees quarterbacks passed for 222 yards and rushed for 56. Matheson led receivers with 82 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.
Defensively, Abed Hamidi led the way with eight tackles, a sack and tackle for loss. Réshaan Davis had 4.5 tackles one sack, and two tackles for loss, one resulting in a safety. Cody Cranston had the lone interception for the Gee-Gees.
"We always talk about being relentless, and to roll with the punches, but we need to come out of the gates a little bit stronger," said head coach Jamie Barresi. "My message is to always be calm and poised, but my next message will be to be energetic right away."
The team celebrated Senior's Night, where a handful of different players had the chance to contribute regardless of being a star or a role player. Barresi highlights how important it was for some players to get an opportunity to dress for the game.
"It's good to see a lot of different guys get a chance to contribute," said Barresi. "We made a point to dress some guys we knew were going to be in their last game. To get those guys some time was nice to see, these guys have put a lot of time in to see them out there was very gratifying."
With 535 yards of total offence, the most of the season by over 100 yards, the Gee-Gees showed an execution that they will need to replicate going forward. With Burgher's performance of late, the Gee-Gees have a reliable balance of running and passing
"It always feels good to show out and have a big game," said Burgher. "All facets of the offence, defence, and special teams made plays, it was a really good team win."
The Gee-Gees have relied on their defence to win games this season, and once again the unit executed and responded when they were needed most.
"We have a resilient group of guys," said Hamidi. "We had a first week bye, so guys are hurting, but we're trying to ride the momentum pushing us forward. Every game is tough, but the momentum is huge for us heading into the playoffs."
The Gee-Gees will travel to London, Ont. to take on the U SPORTS top-ranked Western Mustangs on Saturday. The Mustangs are undefeated on the season and the Gee-Gees will look to upset the defending Yates Cup champion. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game will be streamed live on OUA.tv