Western struggled to convert their offensive drives and strong field position into points, and quarterback Michael Faulds threw four interceptions, and the Mustangs fumbled three more times.
The Gaels took an early 9-0 lead after a safety and a one-yard touchdown run by Mike Giffin, but the Mustangs seemed certain to tighten up the game shortly before the half when they drove deep into Queen’s territory. Queen’s defensive back Alex DaPrato made a tremendous interception and returned it 96 yards to set up a second Gaels touchdown, and Queen’s scored again just before the half after defensive lineman Dee Sterling forced a fumble deep inside Western’s half; fellow lineman Osie Ukwuoma recovered, setting up a touchdown pass to Chris Ioannides that gave Queen’s a 23-1 lead at the half.
Western made it close after halftime, shutting down Queen’s offence and recording two touchdowns of their own to reduce the Gaels’ lead to nine points. Defensive back Jimmy Allin kept the Gaels moving forward, picking up more than 20 yards and a crucial first down on a fake field goal after the offence stalled again. It was the second successful fake field goal the Gaels made in the game. Brannagan followed up with a touchdown pass to Scott Stinson, giving the Gaels a 16-point lead that would only grow from there.
Head coach Pat Sheahan said the successful fake field goal plays provided a big lift for his team.
“They were timely. They were explosion plays,” he said. “They shook everyone up and they elevated the psyche.”
Sheahan said he made the decision to call for a second fake field goal because nothing else was working and he figured Western wouldn’t expect it.
“We needed something,” he said. “Oftentimes when you see a fake field goal in a ball game, you never see another one in the same game.”
Western’s head coach Greg Marshall said he expected his team to have a tough time against Sterling and Ukwuoma, who combined for two sacks and seven solo tackles, but they proved even more difficult to contain than he thought.
“[Sterling and Ukwuoma] there didn’t surprise us,” he said. “I knew what they could do. … We worked on blocking Dee Sterling all week, but seeing him live is different than watching him on tape.”
Marshall said he’s confident his team will do better if they face Queen’s again in the playoffs, though.
“They have round one, but round two is worth all the marbles.”
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