Queen’s playoff hopes dashed in overtime loss

No. 5 Gryphons beat Gaels 27-24

Image by: Jeff Chan
Queen’s defensive line was instrumental in the game

Last Thursday, the Gaels took on the Guelph Gryphons, who were ranked fifth in the country ahead of the nighttime matchup. The Gaels lost a heartbreaker to the Gryphons in overtime, 27-24.

The loss to the Gryphons knocks Queen’s out of playoff contention, as the best they can now finish is 3-5 should they beat the York Lions in their upcoming matchup.

The Gaels started the game with Ryan Licandro under centre. The offence got off to a slow start, and Licandro lasted just one full quarter, finishing with 34 yards through the air on six completions.

The Gaels couldn’t seem to find any momentum through the first quarter in a must-win game. The defence held strong despite being beset with poor field position, until Guelph broke through with less than a minute left in the quarter on a Kiondre Smith touchdown run.

Opening the second quarter of action down seven and needing to get things going, the Gaels called on quarterback James Keenan to step up and run the offence.

On the opening drive, Keenan provided a much-needed spark for the Queen’s offence and while it didn’t end in a score, it was the type of tone-setting drive the Gaels needed.

On the following drive, the Gaels started to make noise. Starting with great field position, Keenan, in the shotgun, heaved a throw deep downfield that was caught by Ben Arhen for a 25-yard completion. 

On the following play, Rasheed Tucker received a handoff and gashed his way through the Gryphons defence for a 17-yard score to tie the game at 7-7.

The Gaels got the ball back late in the opening half after Queen’s defensive back Eric Colonna intercepted Guelph quarterback Theo Landers.

On 2nd and 11, facing a long field with only 1:26 remaining in the first half, the Gaels dialed up a pass play. With no receiver open, Keenan took off and with a few hard cuts made several Gryphons defenders miss on his way to a 22-yard rush.

Keenan followed up his rush with three massive completions, finding Marko Xidos thirteen yards downfield for a completion, Arhen again for 32 yards, and Richard Burton for a pick-up of nine yards.

Puskas added a seven-yard rush to set the Gaels up on the Guelph 15 yard line with 13 seconds to go in the first quarter. With time winding down, Arhen ran a corner route towards the back of the endzone, and Keenan aired out a pass that fell perfectly into his hands.

Arhen’s reception put the Gaels up 14-7 over the Gryphons to close out the first half.

The third quarter saw the Gryphons regain the lead on a 42-yard field goal coupled with a goal-line touchdown run by Landers. The Landers touchdown would give the Gryphons a 17-14 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

To open the fourth, Queen’s pieced together an eight-play, 70-yard drive that resulted in a game-tying field goal by Queen’s kicker Ben Hadley. Keenan had 34 yards passing and 38 yards rushing to help put the Gaels in field goal range.

The Queen’s defence then forced a two and out. With 9:25 left to go in the game and possession of the ball, the Queen’s offence was able to drive 53 yards downfield and score in just four plays.

The touchdown run from Tucker put the Gaels up 24-17 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.

With their backs against the wall, the Gryphons started their drive from their own seven yard line. They drove the length of the field, eventually scoring on a 25-yard pass to receiver Kiondre Smith.

The Smith touchdown tied the game at 24, and the game was off to overtime. 

The Gaels won the coin toss and elected to start the overtime period with the ball. An incomplete pass and a sack put the Gaels in a tough spot.

On 3rd and 9, Head Coach Steve Snyder elected to leave the offence out on the field instead of trying for the field goal which would force the Gryphons to score a touchdown to win. 

Keenan was once again forced to scramble out of the pocket, but was stopped well short of the first down marker and the Gaels turned the ball over on downs.

The Gryphons made short work of their overtime possession. Juwan Jeffrey carried the ball three times for a total of 26 yards to set the Gryphons up in position to knock through a 26-yard game winning field goal to end the Gaels’ playoff hopes.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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