While the nation focused on the downtown core for the World Cup of Hockey at the Air Canada Centre, there was another heated rivalry writing its newest chapter just a few subway stops north of Union Station. Marcus Hobbs and the Toronto Varsity Blues took on the York Lions for the 47th annual Red and Blue Bowl.
Varsity Blues Win Fourth Straight Argo Cup
The weather reflected the gritty play with the rain coming down on the field hard all afternoon. The two offences’ contrasting styles made for an entertaining game as the rain continuously poured down.
York came into the game red-hot with a 2-1 record, while the Varsity Blues were the polar opposite — down on their luck after losing in three straight lopsided games to nationally-ranked opponents to open their season. With the city bragging rights on the line, the two arch-rivals duked it out with the last team standing taking the glory.
After chipping away at each other to start the game, Toronto opened the scoring when fifth-year quarterback Hobbs fooled the York defence with a 5-yard run in the Red Zone with a read option play. Freezing the defensive end with a play fake, Hobbs walked into the end zone untouched, putting Toronto up 7-0 after the convert. As the game continued, Toronto effectively took advantage of this scheme on York’s defence.
After the initial score by Hobbs, the teams traded field goals so that it was 10-6 in favour of the Varsity Blues with a minute remaining before halftime. Without hesitation, on Toronto’s last possession before the half, Hobbs uncorked a bomb through the air for a 76-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rahul Madan, increasing the Varsity Blues lead to 17-6 before the teams went back to their locker rooms.
Marcus Hobbs Breaks Out
In the second half Toronto took control of the game for good late in the third quarter when Hobbs threw himself towards the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game on an identical play call to his earlier score. The play from the 5-yard line fooled York’s defence defending the goal line with the read option again, putting the Varsity Blues up by fifteen. Hobbs hurled himself in a Cam Newton-esque fashion through the air into the end zone flipping over his tackler for the score.
— U of T Varsity Blues (@Varsity_Blues) September 17, 2016
After the game, Varsity Blues head coach Greg Gary was impressed by his bruising passer’s performance.
“Their defensive end was crashing and we were able to get him out of the pocket, he’s a big quarterback, its to his advantage to get him out in space. He can take the hits, he gets a little reckless out there sometimes with his body, but overall he’s a competitor and he does what he has to do,” said Gary after his fourth straight win against York.
With the rain still pouring down hard, York threw a scoring punch of their own on the next possession. Quarterback Brett Hunchak orchestrated a 79-yard touchdown drive in 41 seconds on three passes. The drive was capped off by an 18-yard touchdown reception by Colton Hunchak, Brett’s younger brother. The Hunchak brothers have been key to revitalizing the York passing offence this season combining for four touchdowns over four games.
“Our goal on defence was to take away the long ball” said Gary. “I thought we did that to a degree, they made some long balls, we had some pass interferences against us but I thought our defence stepped up and allowed us to manage the game as it went on.”
After York narrowed the Toronto lead to 24-18. The Varsity Blues responded back with another touchdown drive of their own, utilizing their strong run game. The Varsity Blues used their two primary runners Kaleb Leach and Alex Malone to chew up yardage on the ground. Each of the two backs had over 100-yards rushing on the rainy afternoon. Malone accounted for 170-yards and Leach with 112.
Later, Hobbs used the read option play again to get the offence in scoring position before Leach punched it in for a 3-yard Toronto score, pushing the lead to 31-18. Toronto scored again a few minutes later to put the game out of reach when Anthony Naccarato hauled in a 65-yard score to give Toronto a 20-point lead with five minutes remaining in the game.
The Blues went on cruise control from there to earn their first win of the season and the Argo Cup with a final score of 45-18 after Hobbs scored his third rushing touchdown with 61 seconds remaining in the game. The fifth-year pivot had 210 yards passing and two touchdowns through the air, while rushing for three of his own scores.
The Varsity Blues travel to the brand new Richardson Stadium in Kingston for a brotherly duel on offence as Marcus from Toronto goes toe-toe with his brother Nate, the starter for the Queen’s Gaels. York will host the Carleton Ravens who are coming off of a 17-16 loss to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks.
Main Photo Credit of Barak Falkovitz.