Gaels stun nationally ranked Varsity Blues

Queen’s wins second straight in a shootout, 37-33

Image by: Jeff Chan
Rasheed Tucker stiff arms a Toronto defender out of his way en route to being named OUA offensive player of the week.

The Gaels travelled to Toronto on Sept. 21 to take on the number 10 nationally-ranked Toronto Varsity Blues.

Coming into the match, Blues quarterback Clay Sequeira lead the nation in passing yards (1257) and passing touchdowns (14). The collection of talent amassed on the Varsity Blues offence looked as if it might be a challenge, even for a strong Queen’s defence.

The game featured a new starting quarterback for the Gaels—Ryan Licandro got his first start under centre.

It was a shootout right from the opening kickoff. Both teams traded offensive scores and defensive blows like Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali. Toronto received the opening kickoff and returned it 88 yards to Queen’s 15-yard line.

Two plays later, the Blues fumbled a QB sneak, and defensive lineman Gabriel Boucher recovered it.

Then, on the Gaels’ first offensive play, Rasheed Tucker ran for a 34-yard gain.

The Gaels marched downfield and kicker Ben Hadley—replacing his fellow Nova Scotian Nick Liberatore, who is out with a knee injury—hit a field goal to give the Gaels a 3-0 lead.

After a Licandro interception and a Toronto punt, the Gaels strung together a nicely called five-play, 62-yard drive, which culminated in a Tucker touchdown.

Hadley got a rouge on the kickoff to make the game 11-0. The Blues answered back with a six-yard touchdown pass to Michael Lehman. The first quarter ended with the Gaels leading the Blues 11-7.

Toronto started the second quarter with possession of the ball in the Gaels’ red zone. Sequeira dropped back to pass, looking towards the end zone. What Sequeira couldn’t see was a blitzing Anthony Frederico, who hammered him in the backfield for a sack.

On the next play, Sequeira sailed his pass and it was intercepted by Gaels defensive back Thompson McCallum, forcing Sequeira to throw just his second interception
all season.

Queen’s then turned to their run game, wearing down the Toronto defence with a grinding 14-play, 88-yard drive, giving the Gaels an 18-9 lead over Toronto.

Toronto’s next possession ended with a fumble by Matt Duffy, a former Gael. The ball was scooped up by Queen’s, and the Gaels hit a 10-yard field goal to increase their lead to 21-9.

After a Queen’s safety, the Varsity Blues’ offence hit the field with 00:53 remaining in the first half. On third and ten, Christopher MacLean faked the punt and ran it 25 yards to the Gaels’ 50. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Queen’s brought Toronto
to the 35.

Sequeira hit Will Corby for 11 yards, and then made a 23-yard run himself to get Toronto to the one-yard line. The Gaels defence stiffened, stuffing a draw play, and Toronto settled for a field goal.

The Gaels received to start the second half and Ben Arhen returned the kick for a touchdown, but for the second time this season, it was called back on a penalty.

Arhen kept his composure and caught a 20-yard pass, and then Marco Xidos hauled in an 18-yard completion. Licandro then found Richard Burton for a 24-yard touchdown to extend the Gaels lead
over the Blues.

Queen’s added a safety and the Blues hit a field goal to close out the third quarter with the Gaels still on top, 30-24.
In the fourth quarter, both teams buckled down defensively. Queen’s was able to break the détente with an 86-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard carry for a touchdown from Tucker.

Sequeira and Nolan Lovegrove caught fire on the next drive, connecting twice for 46 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown reception, cutting the Gaels lead to just six points.

The Blues got the ball back for a final offensive with 2:16 left in the game. Sequeira found Daniel Diodati for a 19-yard pick-up then rushed for 15 yards.

Queen’s secondary came up large to end the game—the Blues went on to throw three straight incompletions to end the drive and give the Gaels their second victory of the season in upset fashion.

The win over the nationally-ranked Blues puts the Gaels at a 2-3 record on the season. The Gaels now sit tied with Toronto for the sixth and final playoff spot.

The Gaels will travel to Kitchener this Saturday to take on the Laurier Golden Hawks.

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