Queen’s wins football season opener against Carleton

Gaels top Ravens 18-6 at MNP Park in Ottawa

Image supplied by: Photo supplied by Athletics and Recreation
Queen's receiver Richard Burton tries to gain some yardage against a Ravens defender.

After nearly 700 days of inaction, OAU football kicked off over the weekend, with the Queen’s Gaels facing off against the Carleton Ravens at MNP Park on Saturday afternoon. 

The Gaels started their season with an 18-6 victory. The game saw starting quarterback James Keenan pass for two touchdowns and kicker Nick Liberatore knock through one field goal.

The game was one of good execution for head coach Steve Snyder, but he was quick to note there certainly remains room for improvement.

“You know there’s going to be a ton to clean up, especially after Week One, and that’s exactly what happened,” he said in an interview with The Journal.

“When you see the tape, it’s certainly not as good as that feeling you have after the game.”

After winning the coin toss at centre field, the Queen’s Gaels elected to kick off the game. Liberatore pinned the Carleton Ravens deep in their own territory.

After a stalled Carleton drive, Keenan took the field near the Gaels’ goal line. Snyder had elected to start Keenan after his performance during training camp and praised his accuracy and ability to extend plays with his feet.

“James was the most in-tune with our system […] he was the most consistently accurate quarterback as well,” he said.

After two failed drives, however, the Gaels punted to midfield, showcasing an offense that would largely be stuck in neutral for the opening quarter.

On the defensive end of the ball, the Gaels found Ravens’ quarterback, Taylor DeJong, in the backfield early, with defensive lineman, Anthony Federico, sacking DeJong mid-way through the quarter. After a few more stilted drives, Carleton struck the first notch on the board, kicking a field goal in the last four minutes of the quarter.

Keeping possession to start the second quarter, the Gaels failed to find any sustained momentum, allowing Carleton to string together the game’s first decent drive. However, Federico made another critical play when he sacked DeJong once more to stall Carleton’s offense.

After some promising runs from Rasheed Tucker—Queen’s star running back—and Snyder’s decision to go for it on third down, both teams took several penalties, including a time count violation call against Queen’s and a spearing call against Carleton.

When asked about the number of penalties accrued over the course of the game, Snyder explained there are usually two distinct categories that such calls fall into.

“Penalties go one of two ways. There are penalties of aggression, where you’re just playing the game and then there are mental penalties […] pre-snap and post-play. You don’t read too much into the ones of aggression when you’re just playing hard.”

After a solid defensive play from Queen’s linebacker Braden Reed, Keenan took over with less than two minutes left in the half and threw a 40-yard touchdown to receiver Ben Langlois.

After a Carleton fumble with ten seconds left in the half, the Gaels’ field goal attempt went wide but travelled through the end zone for the single point.

Carleton looked to close the gap near the end of the third quarter but was limited to another field goal after Queen’s forced an incompletion. Tucker had several stronger runs, which set up a 42-yard field goal kicked into the wind by Liberatore as the Gaels maintained their lead.

After Keenan tossed another long touchdown to receiver Richard Burton, the Ravens stalled out in the red zone with a turnover on downs.

Shortly after, the Gaels had another interception, and Federico sacked DeJong on Carleton’s last drive, capping off a spectacular performance that didn’t go unnoticed by Snyder.  

“Anthony is a professional prospect […] he plays the position really well […] that’s why he was named a team captain this year for the first time in his career.” 

Due to the pandemic, both teams lined up across from one another at mid-field and waved to show their respect for one another rather than exchange handshakes. 

For Snyder, returning to a stadium with fans was long overdue.   

“You almost forget what that feeling is like […] for everyone, it was a massive sigh of relief, and you know, welcome back to what you love.” 

The Queen’s Gaels have their home opener against uOttawa on Sept. 25 at Richardson Stadium. Kickoff will be at 3:00 p.m.


men's football

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