Gaels fall

Football loses to Western in playoff game

Gaels’ slotback Rob Bagg
Image by: Harrison Smith
Gaels’ slotback Rob Bagg

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

On the heels of their best regular season since 2003 and primed for a long playoff run, the Gaels dropped their OUA quarter-final to the visiting Western Mustangs 27-19 on Saturday. The loss eliminated Queen’s from the playoffs and Western advances to face the University of Ottawa next weekend.

Western running back Randy McAuley ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns, slowly wearing down the Gaels’ defence and, in the game’s later stages, killing the clock and any chance of a Queen’s comeback.

With the score 27-16, Gaels quarterback Danny Brannagan marched the team down the field and it seemed that a comeback was in the offing. However, a perfect end-zone pass to slotback Rob Bagg, which would have brought the Gaels to within four points, fell to the ground after being knocked by a Western defender.

Bagg said he was surprised when the ball fell out of his hands.

“I didn’t know anybody else was around me,” he said. “I thought I was just fielding it like a punt, and he just hit it right out of my hand as I was pulling it in.”

Bagg said he doesn’t regard the season as a success despite the team’s outstanding regular season, which they ended 6-2.

“Obviously it’s not a successful year,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season, it’s all about the playoffs. So it’s disappointing for sure.”

Fifth-year linebacker DJ Mulholland said the team had high expectations of themselves.

“We thought we had a team that could go deep into the playoffs, so to be out first round is obviously not what we expected,” he said.

Mulholland said it was especially tough knowing that he would no longer play for Queen’s after five years as a Golden Gael.

“Football’s not a sport that you can kind of pick up and play through your entire life,” he said. “You only have so many downs and so many games. To know that you’re never going to play again is a pretty tough thing.”

Queen’s coach Pat Sheahan commended Western’s play.

“I thought Western probably played about as well as they could today,” he said. “I thought they played really well and we were a little bit under the bar. We had our chances and didn’t capitalize.”

The Gaels started slowly on offence and didn’t achieve a first down until midway through the second quarter. Despite the slow start, they led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter due to Jimmy Allin’s 115-yard touchdown return off a missed field goal. The return was the second-longest in CIS

playoff history.

Western quarterback Michael Faulds made key completions throughout the game, keeping the Gaels’ defence on the field for long periods of time. He completed 18 of 24 passes and threw for 253 yards and one touchdown.

Mike Giffin, the Gaels’ record-setting running back who rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this year, ran for 51 yards on only 12 carries and was rendered largely ineffective by Western’s defence.

Sheahan said the difference in the game was his team’s inability to make plays when it counted.

“I thought we were evenly matched today,” he said. “We had our chances, and in the playoffs you’ve got to expect that the score’s going to be close. You’ve got to make your plays.”

Sheahan said he was proud of his team’s season despite its untimely end.

“I’m very proud of them,” he said. “I thought they battled hard all year, I think they won some games that a lot of people thought they were going to lose, and then unfortunately we lost today in a game when some people thought we were going to win, but that’s football and that’s life.

“They’ll wake up tomorrow and they’ll realize that they had a great year. They’re not moving on to the next round of the playoffs but they’ve got lots to be proud of.”

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