The Queen’s Gaels defeated the Carleton Ravens on Saturday afternoon, 41-14.
With their victory at Richardson Stadium, the Gaels will advance to the Eastern Conference finals of the OUA playoffs, playing against the uOttawa Gee-Gees in Kingston on Nov. 13.
Even the November cold couldn’t blunt the momentum of the red-hot Gaels heading into last Saturday, which, apart from being their seventh consecutive win, was also their first home playoff game in over a decade.
“The weather didn’t affect it, in terms of the temperature,” head coach Steve Snyder said in an interview with The Journal following the game.
“Our guys are certainly used to this. This is real football season.”
The Gaels opened the scoring early, forcing the Ravens into a two-and-out on their first possession, before quarterback James Keenan rushed for 47 yards to enter the red zone and set up a short touchdown for fullback Konner Burtenshaw.
After the Ravens turned over the ball on downs nearly halfway through the quarter, Queen’s struck again, with kicker Nick Liberatore missing the long field goal but scoring a rouge.
Shortly after, Queen’s defensive team gave the Gaels’ offence an excellent field position as Walter Karabin and Van Wishart sacked Carleton quarterback Reid Vankoughnett, forcing the Ravens to punt from deep in their own territory.
Regaining possession, the Queen’s run game proceeded to dominate, with a long carry by Rasheed Tucker setting up a short rushing touchdown for running back Anthony Soles.
The Gaels’ pressure on Vankoughnett didn’t let up to start the second quarter, either. Linebacker Gabriel Boucher intercepted Vankoughnett to give Queen’s possession on the Ravens’ 25-yard line. Shortly after, Tucker capitalized on the opportunity with another rushing touchdown.
After a truly bizarre sequence of events—Carleton’s punter bobbling a snap and attempting to pitch it to a teammate, who then fumbled—the Gaels recovered the ball with excellent field position and Tucker scored once more.
After that grievous error, however, the Carleton offence woke up.
Vankoughnett proceeded to throw two long completions for a touchdown halfway through the quarter.
In typical fashion, Queen’s took their lick and responded with a tremendous drive. Starting in the shadow of their own goalposts, they slowly worked their way downfield on a series of designed runs and short passes which culminated in Keenan throwing another short pass to Rasheed Tucker for the touchdown — effectively ending the first half.
Vankoughnett came out in the third quarter eager to respond, throwing two long incompletions before catching a break as Queen’s fumbled on their own 29-yard line on the ensuing punt return.
In the following Carleton drive, the Gaels’ defence stood strong and prevented a score, regaining possession for the offence who were later forced to punt and back the Ravens up to their 43 yard-line.
Walter Karabin proved once more the difference-maker, sacking Vankoughnett in the backfield before Anthony Federico sacked him again on the Ravens’ next drive.
With the Ravens voluntarily conceding a safety shortly after, the game was largely decided by the start of the fourth quarter.
Gaels’ kicker Nick Liberatore launched a short field goal after a long carry from Burke Derbyshire before Carleton scored a touchdown in the last two minutes to reach double digits—with a final score of 41-14.
“It felt good. We felt like we needed to get out on them early,” Snyder said when asked his thoughts on the game.
“Our guys did a really good job […] We were just able to jump on them early and wear them down with the run game.”
Even with this victory, Snyder’s focus remains the same. When asked about his preparations against uOttawa, his message was unmistakable.
“The clock is ticking now.”
The Gaels will face off against the uOttawa Gee-Gees on Saturday at Richardson Stadium at 1:00 p.m.
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