On Saturday, the Gaels headed east to our Nation’s Capital to take on the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. The two teams were both in search of their first win of the season.
In the previous week of OUA football action, the Gaels took a hard-fought 40-23 loss to the Western Mustangs, the defending Yates Cup Champions. The Gee-Gees fumbled their season opener in Week Two with a 35-22 road loss against the McMaster Marauders.
Head Coach Steve Snyder and his Gaels started the game firing on all cylinders. On their first offensive drive of the game, the Gee-Gees were backed up deep in their own end.
Gee-Gees quarterback Ben Maracle had his eyes downfield looking for a receiver to put Ottawa in better field position. Maracle dropped back and fired a pass across the middle of the field, intended for a crossing Kaleem Beaver. Maracle, however, didn’t see Gaels linebacker Will Bannatyne, who was dropping into coverage and intercepted the pass.
The interception gave the Gaels great field position. On the Ottawa 30-yard line, Gaels quarterback James Keenan dropped back looking to pass, but found no open receivers. Keenan rushed the Gee-Gees defence for a 24-yard touchdown run that gave the Gaels an early 7-0 lead over the Gee-Gees.
In the second quarter of action, Gaels kicker Nick Liberatore knocked through a pair of field goals, 42 and 49 yards respectively, to extend the Gaels lead to 13-7.
The Gaels were then forced to concede a safety. And then, with just over a minute and a half left to play in the first half, the Gee-Gees struck for a score, hitting their speed receiver Kaleem Beaver down the middle of the field for a 38-yard touchdown to end the half with the score Ottawa 16, Queen’s 13.
On the Gaels first drive of the second half, following a six-yard rush from running back Rasheed Tucker, James Keenan fired an interception which the Gee-Gees returned to the Queen’s 11-yard line to set up Ottawa for a score. Keenan’s day was over and backup quarterback Ryan Licandro took the reins for the remainder of the game.
Just as the game looked to be getting out of hand for the Gaels, who were down 23-13, Licandro found Marko Xidos in the end zone.
Shortly after, the Gee-Gees answered back with a touchdown of their own to regain their 10-point lead going into the final quarter of action.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Gaels struck for a score once again. This one was a 13-yard rush from running back Rasheed Tucker, who danced his way around a few Gee-Gees defenders before finding the end zone.
The Gaels trailed by just three points for the better part of the fourth quarter, until finally the Gee-Gees broke the standoff with a five-yard touchdown run from Amlicar Polk to put Ottawa up 37-27 with under three minutes remaining.
Down 10 points with time winding down, Snyder and the Gaels were looking to pull within a field goal. On second down and two at the Ottawa 51-yard line, Licandro got the ball to Tucker, who had it punched out of his hands and scooped up by Gee-Gees defensive back Cody Cranston. Cranston ran it into the Gaels end zone to seal a 44-27 victory for the home team.
The Gaels now fall to 0-3 on the season, with some tough matchups left to play. They’ll face the Laurier Golden Hawks, the Guelph Gryphons, ranked sixth nationally, and the upstart Toronto Varisty Blues, whose resurgence has been led by Queen’s coaching alumni Greg Marshall.
Queen’s next matchup will come this Saturday afternoon at Richardson Stadium against the 1-2 Windsor Lancers in Chris Osei-Kusi’s return to Kingston.
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