Queen’s football head coach Pat Sheahan said his team was disheartened after they fell to a 0-2 record following a loss to UOttawa last weekend.
Holding a lead since the second quarter, Queen’s went into the final two minutes of the game six points ahead of the nationally ranked number nine Gee-Gees. Although it seemed as if the Gaels were on the verge of an upset, things changed in a matter of moments.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Gee-Gee’s ripped off a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 1:45 left on the clock. The Gaels’ next drive, which ended with a turnover-on-downs, sealed their fate. They lost by a narrow score of 14-13.
“It never should have happened, and we all recognize that,” Sheahan said of Queen’s special team’s fourth-quarter blunder.
“But by the same token, we seem to be that club right now that is succumbing to these kinds of errors late in ball games.”
Looking back on the past two games, Sheahan isn’t worried about the team’s play — “there was lots of effort,” he said. Instead, he’s focused on the team’s inability to close out tight games.
Their first matchup of the season against Carleton played out in similar fashion to their most recent loss. They led for much of the game — and even much of the fourth quarter — but a Ravens touchdown with 18 seconds to play handed the team a 22-17 loss.
Albeit two exciting finishes to start the season, Sheahan said the Gaels have a “maturational point” they have yet to go through which entails “winning the close ones.”
“We’re right there,” he said, alluding to when his team might find their first win. “We’re probably three plays away from going 2-0 right now.”
Gauging some of the positives from the losses, the Gaels have certainly improved on the offensive side of the ball.
Their 202 yards on the ground impressively out-matched the Gee-Gees’ 83. For context, the prior week against Carleton, Queen’s had a mere 57 total yards rushing compared to the Ravens’ 141.
Moreover, they suffered no turnovers against the Gee-Gees — they fumbled three times against the Ravens — and their defence evidently played a sound game, only allowing two scores.
“We played much better in many respects in week two than we did in week one… basically kick-off returns was really the only glitch we had [against UOttawa],” Sheahan, who heads into his 17th year as the Gaels’ head coach, said.
There’s no magic formula, he added; the players simply “need to develop the mental capacity to make [plays]” that dictate the outcomes of close games.” When players make plays, they get in the habit of making a difference, he continued.
Sheahan stressed to The Journal that the Gaels have without question proved they are both an exciting and competitive bunch.
“What [students and fans] are gonna see is some great, entertaining football, and guys who are really giving their all for the program – they’re proud to wear the jersey.”
When asked if he remains optimistic of the team’s prospects for the remainder of the season, even after two straight losses, Sheahan was as frank as could be.
“One hundred percent,” he said.
The Gaels’ next test comes at home when they host Laurier on September 16.
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