Football ousted by Gee-Gees

Gaels eliminated from playoffs after 23-10 loss to Ottawa

Queen’s receiver Rob Bagg breaks a tackle during Saturday’s semifinal in Ottawa.
Queen’s receiver Rob Bagg breaks a tackle during Saturday’s semifinal in Ottawa.
Jeff Chan

Though the score did not come out in their favour, the Queen’s football team proved that it belongs in the upper echelons of university football in Ontario.

The Gaels’ defensive line put in another solid performance, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Gaels in
the playoffs and Queen’s lost 23-10 to the University of Ottawa Gee- Gees last Saturday at Frank Clair
Stadium in Ottawa. Head coach Pat Sheahan said the team didn’t play as well as he has seen them play this season.

“It’s a shame that when you play your last game it isn’t your best game.”

The Gaels didn’t make it into the final but, they did find out what they’re made of. “Even in the last two minutes we were still diving for balls and making plays,” quarterback Danny Brannagan said.

“I think we always knew we had the potential to be one of the best teams in the conference.”

Brannagan said the offence continued to struggle but the defence once again came through for the team. “It’s hard when you leave your defence on the field the whole game.”

Receiver Rob Bagg said the team’s defensive line is the best in Canada. “I said it before. They’re the best defence in the country and I stand by it.” He added he hopes the loss will inspire the offence to perform better in the future. “It’s obviously really disappointing to feel like your unit is the unit that let the team down, but it’s motivation for next year.” Ottawa’s Wayne Desmond opened the scoring with a touchdown early in the second quarter.The Gee-Gees lengthened their lead with another touchdown two minutes later when Brannagan was stripped of the ball and Ottawa recovered. A single point on the ensuing kickoff put the Gee-Gees up 15-0.

Ryan Elger got the Gaels on the board with a field goal with 19 seconds remaining in the first half. Bagg said the dressing room was relatively quiet at halftime. “We knew we had the opportunities, so not much was said.” But the Gaels continued to waste opportunities, including fumbling a pass just yards from the goal line on the last play of the third quarter. Ottawa cemented its lead late in the fourth quarter with an 82-yard touchdown run by the Gee-Gees Davie Mason.

With 17 seconds left to play, Brannagan hit Valberg with a 21-yard pass, but it was too little too late and the Gaels’ season was over. “I think the important thing we’re going to take away from this game is to never give up,” Brannagan said. Valberg added that, even though they lost, having made it this far after breaking down mid-season, gives the team confidence. “We know that anything can happen at the end of the season.” Receiver Brad Smith was named a first team offensive all-star. This year, Smith set the Queen’s record for career touchdown receptions with 23. He led the team this year with 48 receptions, 706 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Corner Sean O’Donnell was named a second team offensive all-star. Linebacker Adam Ross was the only Gael defensive player to earn all-star honours. He was named to the second team.

Ross was second in the province and fifth in the country this season with 55 tackles, including a province-high 49 solo tackles. With that number, Ross also secured the Queen’s record for single-season solo tackles. Sheahan said he’s happy with his team and expects big things from them next season. “We proved to ourselves and to everyone else that we can compete with the best teams in the conference,” he said. “We could be a year away from being a really great team.”

There will be some big decisions made on the part of senior players as to whether or not they stay for
fifth year. Bagg, in his fourth season playing for Queen’s, said he has not yet made his decision, but the outcome of the game has swayed him significantly. “I’ll probably be back. I can’t leave on that.”

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