On Saturday, the Gaels met the McMaster Marauders at Richardson Stadium.
Mac’s 2-4 record didn’t fool Queen’s; the Gaels were ready for a fight. Queen’s pulled off the win, with the final score sitting at 14-10.
“[Mac] certainly has way more threats than they do weaknesses,” Head Coach Steve Snyder said at a media conference.
“I don’t think anybody, especially on our team, should look at their record—it means nothing. This is one of the best football teams in the conference [whose] back is to the wall right now.”
Top receiver Richard Burton echoed Snyder’s sentiment at a media conference.
“We take every single opponent we play seriously. You roll Mac’s tape and they’re a really strong opponent.”
The game started slowly with an empty scoreboard for most of the first half.
Despite it being a Queen’s home game, the Marauders brought the momentum and energy. They shut down the usually reliable Anthony Soles with vocal communication on defense.
The Marauders maintained good field position and possession and after a few touchdown attempts, put up a good field goal kick for the first three points of the game. Before the first quarter was over the Gaels responded by forcing a safety to make the score 3-2.
In the second quarter, Queen’s continued to struggle putting up points as Mac forced a rouge. Tyler Mullan put up a good field goal for the Gaels in the last minute before half time.
So far this season, Queen’s had yet to experience this much difficulty on home turf—even their fans and spirit teams couldn’t switch the momentum. They tailed 10-5 at the start of the second half after Mac scored touchdown.
So, Queen’s defense stepped up.
“The defense was outstanding,” Snyder said in a post-game interview with Athletics and Recreation. “We really leaned on them, we struggled to sustain some drives offensively.”
Big defensive plays, led by linebacker Liam Sutherland, began to swing the game in the third quarter. Snyder commended Sutherland on his clean execution.
“Liam Sutherland played amazing. That was the best game I’ve seen him play; he was all over the place.”
Sutherland turned the game with a huge interception off Marauders Quarterback Alex Deueck during the third quarter.
Keegan Vanek followed suit and executed another critical interception during Mac’s next offensive attack. His robbery and subsequent 33-yard rush put Queen’s in the perfect position to score their first touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a reset mentality; you can never take anything for granted,” Vanek said in a post-game interview with A&R.
Vanek claims football—especially defense—is all about the momentum. He said defensive plays “just give us another spark of life… It helps us gain faith in ourselves, get something moving. It gives us a momentum shift.”
Queen’s adopted Vanek’s reset mentality in the last quarter as they didn’t let Mac close the gap and continued to dominate on defense.
Sutherland, Silas Hubert, Van Wishart, and Wells Karabin each delivered a sack for Queen’s, while Wishart and Sterling Seunaine each recorded seven tackles.
“The second half, the defense was amazing,” Snyder said.
Queen’s forced another safety and the game ended 14-10.
“It was a good win. A lot of situational football that comes to play in those tight games, and we weren’t good enough there,” Snyder said.
“We made some big mistakes situationally that cost us, so that’s something now that we can learn from and make sure it’s straightened away for next week.”
According to Snyder, the Gaels will need to play better next week to win again.
“It’s going to be another really string opponent, so we just got to go back to the lab ton correct where we went wrong especially situationally,” Snyder said.
The Gaels will play their last game of the regular season on Saturday in Waterloo against the Laurier Golden Hawks before hosting the OUA playoff quarterfinal at Richardson Stadium on Oct. 29.
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