Saturday’s game was impressive, but fans shouldn’t get excited until the Gaels beat a better team.
Though they showed a lot of improvement in a 58-35 demolition of the Laurier Golden Hawks, the team is only 1-2 and still has a lot to prove.
The previously-invisible offence was overwhelming on Saturday. They scored six touchdowns and ran up the score on a mediocre Golden Hawks defence. Quarterback Billy McPhee finally looked comfortable with the ball, registering his first touchdown pass of the season.
With receivers Justin Chapdelaine and Giovanni Aprile consistently overpowering the Golden Hawks secondary, McPhee had easy targets. He threw for 362 yards and four touchdowns, running another score in himself.
But the passing game wasn’t perfect. McPhee threw three interceptions — the most he’s thrown this season. He showed flashes of brilliance on Saturday but made some rookie mistakes. He needs to take fewer risks.
“I don’t want to say I was getting greedy,” he said of an interception returned for a touchdown. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
A large part of the Gaels’ offensive success was due to running back Ryan Granberg, who averaged about five yards on 30 carries. Head coach Pat Sheahan said Granberg’s strong performance took some pressure off McPhee.
“I thought [Granberg] ran tough and played hard,” Sheahan said. “We went to him often and I thought he was productive.”
The Gaels’ defence had an easy afternoon against a weak Golden Hawks offence. Without leading receiver Shamawd Chambers, Golden Hawks quarterback Shane Kelly looked helpless. Passes usually destined for Chambers went to lesser receivers instead, leading to 25 incomplete passes and four interceptions by the Gaels defence.
The defence let the Golden Hawks back into the game near the end, allowing three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“There was just enough in the fourth quarter to remind everybody that you’ve got to play 60 minutes,” Sheahan said. “We should have been able to win both halves in that football game.”
The Gaels will have their biggest chance to move ahead in the OUA standings with the York Lions, the Toronto Varsity Blues and the Windsor Lancers immediately ahead. Queen’s is tied for sixth place in the OUA.
After three weeks, the powerful teams in the province look to be the McMaster Marauders, the Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Western Mustangs. Having already played the Marauders and the Gee-Gees, the Gaels need some points and some confidence before they face the Mustangs in the final week of the regular season.
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