Still searching for their first win of the season, the Queen’s Gaels were set to kick off against the Windsor Lancers on Saturday afternoon.
Coming into the matchup, the Lancers had one of the most efficient offensive units in the OUA. Through three weeks of action, Lancers quarterback Sam Girard had the third most passing yards (876) and the second most passing touchdowns (7) in the province. The Lancers offence as a whole ranked second in total offence, with 1433 yards.
The high-powered Windsor attack meant the Gaels defence was going to have to step up in a big way to compete, which is exactly what happened in Queen’s 15-8 victory.
On the first Windsor drive of the game, defensive end Anthony Federico met Lancer running back Jacob Savoni in the backfield for a two-yard loss, forcing the Lancers to punt.
This set the Gaels up to take a three point lead on a 31-yard field goal by Nick Liberatore.
As the first quarter wound down, the Gaels defence continued to cause problems for the Lancers when Gabriel Boucher hammered Girard in the backfield for a nine-yard loss. Queen’s closed out the quarter up 3-0.
Queen’s front seven caused problems for the Lancers offence in the second quarter, too. Midway through the frame, Gaels linebacker Will Bannatyne got to Savoni in the backfield, effectively ending the Windsor drive.
Following the big play from the defence, the Gaels offence started rolling. Quarterback James Keenan found receiver Sebastian Hanson on a screen pass that Hanson took for a 52-yard gain. Hanson’s effort on the play put Liberatore in position to knock through a 23-yard field goal.
The Gaels got the ball to start the second half and took advantage of the opportunity. On the first drive of the third quarter, Keenan and his offence put together an eight-play drive that put them in the red zone.
On second and goal from the four-yard line, Keenan dropped back looking to pass, scanning the field right to left, eventually settling on Marko Xidos. The pass found Xidos in the left side of the end zone for the score. The play gave the Gaels a 13-0 lead.
The score wasn’t without a major loss. After taking a hard hit off a punt, Liberatore needed help to exit the field and didn’t return for the remainder of the game.
The Gaels defensive dominance continued early in the third quarter. Nolan Bedard clobbered Sam Girard in the backfield for a sack, which forced the Lancers to surrender a safety, extending the Gaels lead to 15-0.
Lancers kicker Griffin Fenton scored a rouge on a missed field goal. And with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Lancers were finally able to reach the end zone.
With under three minutes to go in the final quarter, the Lancers were at the Gaels’ 33-yard line with a fresh set of downs. Dropping back, Girard fired a pass, but it was undercut and intercepted by Queen’s defensive back Thompson McCallum.
The Lancers had the ball on the Queen’s 40-yard line with no time left in the game. The Gaels defence was playing prevent, keeping every Lancers player in front of them and letting no receiver beat them deep. Girard dropped back to launch a last-ditch effort towards the end zone. He heaved the ball deep down the right side of the field, right into the hands of veteran cornerback Ejaz Causer, whose interception ended the game and gave the Gaels their first win of the 2019 season.
This Saturday, the Gaels will travel to Toronto to take on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. The Gaels defence will be put to the test once again in this matchup: Toronto quarterback Clay Sequeira has thrown for 1257 yards, 14 touchdowns, and just 1 interception this season.
The Gaels staunch defence held Girard to just 219 passing yards on 18 completions as well as forcing two interceptions. Girard averaged 292 yards and 3.5 touchdowns through his first three games.
Queen’s finished with 13 tackles for loss, four sacks, and two interceptions.
Through three weeks, the Lancers had been the number one rushing team in the OUA, averaging 193 yards per game. Defensive coordinator Ryan Bechmanis and his Gaels surrendered a mere 99 rushing yards.
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