Billy McPhee enjoyed the best game of his CIS career in Queen’s 42-16 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday night.
The third-year quarterback completed a career-high 22 of 28 passes, tallying 333 yards and two touchdowns. He keyed an offensive surge late in the second quarter, which saw the Gaels put up 14 points in just 37 seconds.
McPhee was inconsistent in the Gaels’ 2011 regular season matchup against Laurier. He erupted for 362 passing yards, but threw three interceptions and connected on just half of his attempts. This year, he was both efficient and explosive, maintaining possession and picking apart the Laurier secondary for several big plays.
“I thought [Saturday] was another climbing game, a learning game,” McPhee said. “As a team, we did our job.”
The Golden Hawks held Queen’s in check for nearly 28 minutes on Saturday. Gaels defensive back Justin Baronaitis kickstarted the attack with a 40-yard interception return, eventually leading to a short touchdown run from Ryan Granberg.
Less than a minute later, McPhee hit receiver Justin Chapdelaine for a 66-yard catch-and-run touchdown, effectively sealing the game before halftime.
Several players took on increased roles in the absence of receiver Giovanni Aprile, who head coach Pat Sheahan said was scratched due to illness. Chapdelaine led the Gaels with seven receptions, while rookie Timothy Godber chipped in with the first touchdown catch of his Queen’s career.
“That’s what great teams do — guys step up when other guys can’t,” McPhee said.
Laurier’s defence zoned in on Granberg, holding him to just 55 rushing yards on 18 attempts. Granberg, the CIS’ defending rushing leader, still found the end zone twice, capping off drives with a pair of three-yard touchdown runs.
“He’s a horse for us. We count on him game in and game out to be productive on offense and he definitely didn’t let us down,” McPhee said. “[Granberg’s] a great player for running backs in Canada to model themselves after.”
Despite allowing two late touchdowns, Queen’s defense frustrated the Laurier offense for significant stretches. A week after sacking York’s Myles Gibbon six times, the Gaels’ stingy pass rush limited Golden Hawks quarterback Travis Eman to just 87 passing yards.
“The defence played very, very well – no question about that,” Sheahan said.
Dillon Wamsley extended his perfect field goal streak, connecting on all four of his attempts. The rookie kicker is currently tied with Granberg and Western Mustangs running back Garrett Sanvido for the CIS lead in total points.
Wamsley, a London native, will take on his hometown team next Saturday, when Queen’s and Western meet at Richardson Stadium in one of the season’s most anticipated matchups. The game will be televised live on The Score at 1 p.m.