Late-game lapses lead to loss

Three touchdowns allowed in the final nine minutes cost Gaels game against Ottawa

Wide receiver Curtis Carmichael hauls in the Gaels’ first touchdown of the game.
Wide receiver Curtis Carmichael hauls in the Gaels’ first touchdown of the game.
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First-year linebacker Michael Moore tackles Ottawa running back Mack Tommy
First-year linebacker Michael Moore tackles Ottawa running back Mack Tommy
Photo: 

A fourth-quarter collapse snapped the Gaels’ 14-game winning streak at Richardson Stadium.

The Ottawa Gee-Gees (2-0) spoiled the Gaels’ home opener on Saturday by racking up 21 unanswered points in the final nine minutes of the game, handing Queen’s (1-1) a 37-30 loss.

Gee-Gees running back Mack Tommy’s two-yard rushing touchdown with 16 seconds remaining was the final blow for a Gaels squad that entered the game ranked ninth in Canada.

“It was just one of those days when we didn't finish it,” said Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan. “Young teams have to learn there is a finishing aspect of winning football games. We've got to get better at that.”

The Gaels’ troubles started early. They found themselves behind 14-0 after the first quarter.

Ottawa’s no-huddle offence gashed through Queen’s defence early on, getting on the scoreboard first after a 31-yard touchdown catch by slotback Vincent Campbell.

Following a fumble from Queen’s running back Jonah Pataki later on in the quarter, Tommy walked into the end zone untouched from 10 yards out. Three of the Gee-Gees’ touchdowns came off of turnovers.

“Turnovers usually end up being your demise and we had very untimely turnovers today,” Sheahan said.

Trailing heading into the second quarter, the Gaels suddenly looked like a different team.

Fifth-year pivot Billy McPhee rifled a pass to third-year receiver Curtis Carmichael, who beat a double coverage and came down with a 25-yard touchdown grab. Carmichael and fellow receiver Alex Carroll both finished the game with over 100 receiving yards.

Queen’s improved significantly on defence in the second quarter, stopping the Gee-Gees on a third-and-one sneak midway through. That crucial stop led to another McPhee touchdown pass, giving the Gaels a 17-14 lead.

McPhee was later sacked in the end zone for a safety, as Queen’s went into the break up by one point.

After the intermission, Carroll made a spectacular catch on a slightly underthrown ball, setting up an easy two-yard touchdown run from Pataki. The Gee-Gees attempted to respond, but one mistake was all it took for second-year defensive back Frederic Kinkead to intercept the ball and return it 38 yards.

Queen’s led 27-16 after three quarters thanks to a 37-yard field goal from kicker Dillon Wamsley.

“We didn’t come out like we wanted to, getting down 14 points from the start, but we realized that we could play with these guys just doing our assignments. We made some plays and the defence forced four turnovers,” Kinkead said.

The Gaels went for the kill on the first drive of the fourth quarter but fell short, settling for a field goal.

It quickly went downhill from there. The Gee-Gees responded on their next drive, capping it with a touchdown.

Ottawa then picked off McPhee for the first time on the next drive, giving themselves a chance to tie the game. With just 2:59 left, Tommy caught a pass out of the backfield and ran 24 yards to the end zone, tying the game at 30-30.

Carmichael then fumbled near midfield with 1:57 left, and the Gee-Gees recovered at the Queen’s 47-yard line. The scene was set for Tommy’s game-winning touchdown.

“We just didn’t execute in the fourth quarter. We made mental errors and we gave away points. We shot ourselves in the foot, I guess,” Kinkead said.

The Gaels’ next game is a rematch of the 2013 Yates Cup, as they host the Western Mustangs (1-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Three Downs

Golden Receiver

Gaels wideout Alex Carroll snagged seven passes for 111 yards, including an acrobatic grab to set up Pataki’s touchdown. He also added 100 all-purpose yards.

Dual Threat

Ottawa quarterback Derek Wendel ran roughshod through the Queen’s defence, throwing for 401 yards and rushing for another 104.

Decisive Mistakes

The Gaels were plagued by poor decision-making. McPhee’s late-game interception was thrown into triple coverage, while earlier in the game Doug Corby lost track of the first down marker, forcing third down when he cut back behind it.

Sean Sutherland

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