Football defeats Guelph

Giffin posts personal best with 214 rushing yards

Offence trumped defence in the football Gaels’ 41-30 victory over the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday. Queen’s overcame a tough offence, including Guelph’s star quarterback Justin Dunk, despite lacking what head coach Pat Sheahan considered adequate time to prepare his defence.

“We had five days to get ready, and one of the days was our physical recovery day, so really we only had two days of practice and then kind of a tune-up day on Friday, and then we had to travel and go there,” Sheahan said.

“This was probably our most challenging episode for preparation for team defence. What our defensive coaching staff is renowned for is how they scheme things up and give the guys the answers they need to face the riddles posed by the other team. The challenge this week was that there wasn’t a lot of time.”

Despite Queen’s best efforts, Dunk completed 23 of 33 passes for 449 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

“He’s one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country,” Sheahan said. “He gave us fits.”

Queen’s running back Mike Giffin rushed for 214 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries, the longest measuring 25 yards. He also caught a short pass in the fourth quarter and took it 78 yards for another touchdown, giving him 292 all-purpose yards on the day.

Sheahan said he was thrilled by Giffin’s play.

“It had to be one of the better performances in the country, I would like to think,” he said. “He had over 200 yards on the ground, he had a big-play pass reception for 78 yards and a key touchdown late in the game where he kind of took off and still had the motor running to outleg them to the end zone. A big play like that, that was pretty special.”

Sheahan said Giffin’s performance was key to the Gaels’ victory.

“He just wore them down and got stronger as the game went on,” Sheahan said. “He just looked like an All-Canadian.”

Giffin said the 214 rushing yards was an all-time high for him.

“Rushing, that’s the most I’ve ever gained,” he said.

But Giffin attributed his success to the offensive line’s blocking.

“[It was] definitely the blocking,” he said. “Our guys were just manhandling them all day.”

Giffin said his 78-yard run after catching a short pass was a highlight for him.

“It was just a quick little pass and they had a linebacker in coverage,” he said. “Our receiver set a nice little pick for me and I was just gone, off to the races.”

The Gaels put up tremendous numbers through the air as well. Quarterback Dan Brannagan completed 19 of 37 passes for 437 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Tight end Chris Ioannides was Brannagan’s key reciever, catching seven passes for 126 yards and a touchdown.

Brannagan now has 725 passing yards through two games, tops among CIS players and 60 yards better than second-place Josh Sacobie, the Ottawa Gee-Gees quarterback.

Brannagan said he thought the entire offence played well.

“It’s definitely a good feeling when you go out there and have a day like that on offence,” he said. “It definitely helps everyone’s confidence.”

Brannagan said his receiving corps is still strong despite Rob Bagg’s departure to the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders in the off-season.

“We lost Bagg and that hurt, but these guys really trained hard in the summer and are stepping up and doing a great job,” he said.

Brannagan said the offensive line also stepped up against Guelph. They allowed four sacks against McMaster, but only one Saturday.

“As long as the o-line keeps playing like that, I think we’re going to have a lot of success,” he said.

Veteran centre Dan Bederman said the line made some changes to their blocking schemes before the Guelph gamewhich produced success.

“We made a couple adjustments, and we didn’t have any screwups,” he said.

Bederman said Matt O’Donnell has really stepped up to fill the void left by Cody Kennedy’s departure for the CFL.

“Cody was a huge part of our line,” Bederman said. “He was the anchor. Since then, we’ve picked up Matt O’Donnell and he’s playing well.”

Sheahan said he’ll be looking for improvement in the next few games.

“It’s week two, so we are not in peak form at the moment, but we certainly are

getting better.”

The Gaels will face the Laurier Golden Hawks at home Saturday at 1 p.m.

Queen’s Athletics and Recreation will honour the Gaels’ past championship teams at Saturday’s game. Please see Friday’s Journal for a full preview.

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