Football loss drops Gaels to 0-3

Gaels football fans, players and coaches could be forgiven if they experienced a little déjà vu during Saturday afternoon’s game in Ottawa against the Gee-Gees. In what seemed like a rerun of the week before, Queen’s jumped out to a huge early lead, only to watch it collapse, resulting in a heartbreaking 24-19 loss.

For the last few years, Queen’s has been able to mount game winning drives whenever they needed. This year, the Gaels seem utterly beatable, collapsing at the most inopportune times. “We need to do better in the red zone,” coach Pat Sheahan said before the game.

But clearly the coach’s advice was not heeded. The Gaels got the ball in Ottawa territory on four separate drives and converted only once. In general, scoring proved difficult. The Queen’s defence outscored their own offence, scoring the first 11 points of the game on two safeties and an interception return for a touchdown. Iain Hazlett and Michael Patone registered key sacks.

The Gaels’ defence contributed most of the highlights and kept the team in the game. Ottawa was held to only 253 yards of offence all game. The big plays that had plagued the Gaels were also held relatively in check as the Gee-Gees’ longest play from scrimmage went only 34 yards. The game turned in Ottawa’s favour midway through the third quarter as the Gee-Gees punt returner Daniel Hall ran back a Queen’s punt 100 yards to give his team a 20-19 lead. The play was eerily similar to the one last week that set up Guelph’s winning score. For much of the first half, Queen’s held field position—all four possessions in Ottawa territory occurred before that fateful punt return. After falling behind, the Gael offence would not cross midfield again. Ottawa would add another field goal and a single point in the fourth quarter.

Overall, the Gaels offence managed only 259 yards. Bryan Crawford again led the ground game with 15 carries for 59 yards.

The passing attack was anemic for the second straight week. Ryan Sheahan was 7 of 16 for 64 yards and Ali Clarkson 7 of 17 for 113 yards. Both threw two interceptions each, with Sheahan contributing the offence’s lone touchdown pass to Iain Fleming.

Ottawa gave up ample opportunities to the Gaels early, notably allowing a punt to be returned to their own one-yard line when they should have surrendered a point and started at the 35-yard line. On the positive side, Queen’s did eliminate the penalties that had plagued them the past few weeks, collecting only three for 28 yards.

Great teams find ways to pull out the close ones, but so far, Queen’s has failed to do so. Now they have left themselves in another tight race—making the playoffs has now become an issue for the first time in four years. The Gaels will try to get back on track next Saturday when they host the Waterloo Warriors.

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