The Queen’s Gaels defeated the uOttawa Gee-Gees 32-15 on Saturday at Richardson Stadium. With their victory, the Gaels will be playing for the 113th Yates Cup against the Western Mustangs on Nov. 20.
“We didn’t really start the game very well offensively, but we settled in and started to make some plays,” Head coach Steve Snyder told The Journal in an interview when asked his thoughts on the game.
Even with the team’s early missteps, Snyder remains excited about the opportunity to potentially bring the Yates Cup to Queen’s once again this weekend.
“It’s OUA football at its absolute best […] I know our team will be really excited for the challenge,” Snyder said, later adding “not only is it a championship game, it’s the Yates Cup; it’s the oldest trophy in all of football.”
Receiving the kickoff, the Gaels stumbled early in the first quarter as quarterback James Keenan was sacked on the second snap of the game, forcing Queen’s to punt from deep in their own territory.
After Keenan threw an interception under heavy pressure on their next possession, the Gaels’ defence proceeded to step up. Defensive lineman Van Wishart sacked uOttawa quarterback Ben Maracle to stall the Gee-Gees’ ensuing drive.
The Gee-Gees eventually broke through, kicking a 17-yard field goal to open the scoring at the end of the quarter.
Queen’s answered this with a short rushing touchdown after Keenan kept the drive alive and running back Rasheed Tucker punched into the end zone to open the second quarter.
Near the end of the second quarter, Queen’s received some more timely assistance from its defence as back Ashton Miller-Melancon intercepted a pass from Maracle with only seconds left on the clock. That play set up a 48-yard touchdown strike from Keenan to receiver Josh Macleod to end the half.
“First things first, when I got the pick, I wanted to secure the catch, make sure I got it, so we can get possession, and then after I just thought of ball security […] focused on ball security and getting as many yards as possible,” Miller-Melancon said in an interview with The Journal after the game.
Queen’s grew its lead halfway through the third quarter as a uOttawa sack on Keenan forced the Gaels to settle for a long field goal, which kicker Nick Liberatore hit from 37 yards out.
Not to be outdone, Gee-Gees kicker Campbell Fair punched a 45-yard field goal on uOttawa’s ensuing possession—his longest of the season and tied for third-longest in the OUA.
Unwavering, the Gaels struck once more near the end of the third as Keenan found Macleod again for a long touchdown pass, capping off another long drive for the Queen’s offense.
The start of the fourth quarter put the Gaels defence on mop-up duty as linebacker Walter Karabin sacked Maracle, forcing uOttawa to settle for another long Campbell field goal.
A series of penalties against uOttawa midway through the quarter placed the Gaels on the six-yard line, which Tucker easily turned into a touchdown.
Maracle eventually got uOttawa into gear, scoring a touchdown with five minutes left to play before Campbell’s two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete. After a few more plays, the Gaels kneeled out the clock to end the game.
Beyond drawing up play-calls and preparing schemes for Saturday, Snyder laid out one more challenge—this one directed at the community.
“If you’re a student here, what else would you rather be doing on a Saturday afternoon than coming out for your school in an absolute classic game […] I would encourage everyone in town, alumni nationwide, and the entire student body to get out and fill this thing.”
The Queen’s Gaels will face off against the Western Mustangs at Richardson Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff will be at 1:00 p.m.
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