The no. 8 ranked Gee-Gees football team extended its undefeated start to the 2016 season with a 31-28 overtime win against the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday. After leading throughout the game, the Gee-Gees needed a 51-yard field goal from Lewis Ward to extend the game into extras with the score tied 22-22.
In overtime, the kickers continued to shine as both Ward and his Gryphon counterpart Gabriel Ferraro made good on the opening possessions from moderate distance. Ferraro then hammered a 49-yarder through the uprights. On the ensuing Ottawa possession running back Bryce Vieira picked up an eleven yard first down, setting up a 24-yard game winning touchdown catch by Trevor Kennedy.
The catch was Kennedy’s second of the season and is the first career touchdown for the Finance major from Ancaster, Ont. The win moves Ottawa to 3-0 while Guelph falls to 2-2.
Vieira finished the afternoon with 114 yards rushing on 16 carries, but had his difficulties early on. Gee-Gees head coach Jamie Barresi spoke of the third-year Gee-Gees’ tenacity. “He gives us hope in so many ways. I know the type of competitor he is, and you need your horses on the field. I knew he would bounce back and make some plays for us.”
Guelph was led by their back Johnny Augustin, who returned from injury to net 153 yards on the ground. The Gryphons defence held Ottawa quarterback Derek Wendel to his lowest output of the year at 286 passing yards.
The game featured several would-be turning points early on as the players struggled in the wet conditions. Each team finished the game with three fumbles and there were three interceptions.
Guelph’s first touchdown of the day, a ten-yard reception by Geoff Bezrunchko followed a fumbled punt attempt with six minutes to play in the third quarter which set the Gryphons up on the 13-yard line.
“We knew going in that this was going to be a very competitive game,” noted Barresi. “In order for us to take a step forward, we had to play a game like this and understand how to be in a heavyweight fight.
“I can’t say enough about the defence,” added Barresi. “It wasn’t easy today against our defence and they really hung in there. I really respect the resiliency that they showed and everything was contested.”
“Each play fed off the next for me,” said defensive lineman Sam Randazzo of the overtime where he wrapped up Augustin and recorded a sack. “We had played four quarters of hard football and when that first play happened it felt like an avalanche of energy.”
Miscues hurt Ottawa’s offence in the first quarter and Guelph led 3-0 after ten minutes. The second quarter saw Vieira chew up ground and Wendel connect with leading receivers Mitchell Baines and Kalem Beaver for majors.
Guelph’s second touchdown came with 1:48 remaining in the fourth quarter on third and goal with six yards needed for the score. That put Guelph up 22-19 before Ward booted his 51-yarder.
“Once I hit it I knew it was good,” said Ward, who is enjoying a perfect 7-7 start to the season on field goals. The fourth-year Gee-Gee’s previous career high was 48 yards. He is now tied with Matt Falvo for the Gee-Gees school record.