On Sunday, the Gee-Gees football team kicked off their 2023 season with a 29-10 win over the Waterloo Warriors at TD Place.
Starting quickly on offence, Ottawa jumped out to a 12-0 lead on a 16-yard pitch and catch from Ben Maracle to Maxim Malenfant, followed by a 46-yard run by Amlicar Polk, with both touchdowns going unconverted.
A lower body injury sustained by Maracle broke up his perfect 4-4 afternoon, while Ryan Licandro took over behind centre for the remainder of the outing.
While Maracle returned to the field after further evaluation, he did not re-enter the game, leaving his status for next week's matchup at Toronto to remain questionable.
The Gee-Gees added a safety and two rouge points to go up 16-0 at halftime. A Waterloo touchdown and field goal in the third quarter brought them to within a score, however Ottawa's defence and special teams came through to deliver the win, consistently turning the ball over and putting points on the board to close the game.
The Gee-Gees, finishing the day with four interceptions including three in the fourth quarter and two by defensive ends Baptiste Pollier and Kevin Anderson. Patrick Cumberbatch sealed the win with a 22-yard pick six, following up his twin brother Eric Cumberbatch's takeaway in the first half.
Overall, Polk shouldered much of the offensive production for the Gee-Gees, finishing with an impressive 142 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown the top rushing performance in the OUA through week one. Licandro had 133 yards through the air, with Malenfant leading the way with 55 receiving yards.
Defensively, veteran presence Max Charbonneau turned in an outstanding performance with 9 tackles (7 solo, 4 assisted) with forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick.
What They're Saying:
"The turnovers were huge, we talk about plus-minus turnovers, sacks, and second half conversions. We'll have to look at all of those things, but I know we definitely won the plus-minus in turnovers and that was a big important piece for us today. You're going to win a lot of football games when you do that." – Marcel Bellefeuille, Head Coach
"It feels great, especially as a team coming together, we had lots of ups and downs, but I applaud the team for sticking together and treating every play like it's our last. Especially on defence, they kept us in the game, they were on the field a lot today, so big kudos to them." – Amlicar Polk, running back.
The Gee-Gees will travel to Toronto to take on the Varsity Blues (0-1) at Varsity Stadium for a Labour Day weekend matchup on Sunday night at 7 p.m.
As non-combatants in 2022, the two historical foes will face off for the first time since the Gee-Gees eliminated the Blues in the 2021 OUA quarterfinals.