Gaels fall to Mustangs at Richardson Stadium

Queen’s lost 32-27, current season at 1-2-0

Image by: Herbert Wang
Queen’s Gaels fall 32-27 to long-time rivals.

The Gaels fell to the Mustangs 32-27 on home turf this past Saturday in a game that showcased both powerhouse team’s offensive talent and defensive prowess.

The historic rivalry between Western and Queen’s brought an abundance of students to Richardson Stadium. Gaels football Head Coach Steve Snyder noted the impact the crowd had on the Gaels gameplay.

“The students are the key to it all,” Snyder said. “The team comes out and sees two, three thousand students, it’s a game changer for them.”

After a lackluster start, the Gaels fought to claw their way back into the game. Despite their best efforts, this wasn’t enough. A 55-yard pass from Western’s Evan Hillock to Savaughn Magnaye-Jones with 13 seconds left gave the Gaels little time to come back, shattering their hopes of securing the win for the quarter.

Falling behind 9-0 after the first quarter, Kingston-born Queen’s quarterback Alex Vreeken came out with a vengeance in the second quarter.

Providing receiver Nathan Falconi with a 52-yard pass, Vreeken brought the Gaels back within two points. He set kicker Tyler Mullan up for a successful kick and a rouge point on the following kickoff.

As the Gaels struggled to keep the Mustangs out of field goal range, Mustangs’ kicker Brian Garrity scored two field goals. These field goals wouldn’t go unanswered, however, with Vreeken and his receivers paving the way for Mullan to successfully drill home a 37-yard field goal.

The Mustangs were up 15-11 at the end of the first half.

The third quarter started off promising for the Gaels, until Mustangs’ defensive back Jackson Findlay converted an interception to further increase the Mustangs’ lead.

Things were getting darker for the Gaels, as their rivals scored yet another field goal with just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Despite this, Queen’s bounced back with a strong, methodical drive carrying the Gaels down the field that set up running back Anthony Soles for a touchdown. After another successful kick from Mullan, the Gaels were behind by seven points with just under a minute left in the third quarter.

A major hit on the defensive side of the field was made by linebacker Olivier Muembi, who further contributed to Queen’s momentum as they shut down the Mustang’s drive.

Western’s Brian Garrity hit the upright posts on a 34-yard field goal attempt, giving the Gaels another chance to close in on the Mustang’s lead.

Muembi felt carrying out physically imposing plays gave the team an extra boost of energy in the final quarter.

“I feel like it just gives our team that spark, especially when the drive’s getting really long, and guys start getting tired,” he said after the game. “I feel like energizing plays like that bring a new source of energy and spark to our defense.”

After turning the ball over on downs at Western’s two-yard line the following drive, a pair of interceptions on consecutive efforts gave room for Queen’s defense to step up.

The team forced the Mustangs into yielding a safety, both closing the gap and giving the Gaels possession on their 35-yard line.

A drive led by Vreeken was cut short after Mustangs’ Olivier Bouthot was subject to an unnecessary roughness penalty. With Vreeken on the sidelines with an injury resulting from the penalty, the Gaels moved up to their opponent’s one-yard line with just over one minute remaining in the fourth quarter.

Queen’s quarterback Russell Weir wasted no time after subbing in for Vreeken, and quickly scored a touchdown. After a successful kick, the Gaels had a two-point lead with 57 seconds left in the game.

With all the Gaels fans at the edges of their seats, the energy was abruptly sucked out of the stadium as a 55-yard passing touchdown to Magnaye-Jones gave the Mustangs the final lead in the game, destroying the Gaels chances of knocking off the current second-best team in the country.

After the game, Vreeken reflected on the crowd and the next steps for Gaels football,

“We’ve proven we can play with anyone in the conference, it’s kind of just us versus us. If we play our best football, we’re going to have the chance to do some special things,” he said.

Muembi praised the coaching staff for creating an environment capable of handling high-pressure situations.

“They’re instilling in us that reset mentality,” Muembi said. “You never get too high, never get too low. Even if the game swings in the opponent’s favour, they always remind us to stay steady, stay calm.”

The Gaels look to bounce back against the University of Windsor Lancers on Sept. 23 in Windsor, Ontario.


Alex Vreekan, Football, Olivier Muembi, richardson stadium, Steve Snyder, western mustangs

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