Gaels devour Lions

Football breaks Queen’s records, improves to 6-0

Saturday’s football game in Toronto against the York Lions was perhaps more notable for the records it shattered than for what happened on the gridiron. The second-ranked Gaels posted an 80-0 victory over the Lions, improving to 6-0 in the process and breaking Queen’s records for the most points scored and the largest margin of victory. The Lions, who suffered the biggest margin of defeat in school history, fell to 0-6 with the loss.

Queen’s head coach Pat Sheahan isn’t reading much into the magnitude of the victory, though, given that several other schools have beaten York by large margins this year.

“We accomplished what we went down there to do,” he said. “I think every team in our category has beaten them by a big score, so nobody should have been surprised to see how the score was. … I think in every season we’ve had one game like that.”

The Gaels’ offence was largely held in check last week against the Western Mustangs, when they picked up only 295 net yards and 18 first downs. Running back Mike Giffin was held to just 69 yards on 20 carries, quarterback Dan Brannagan only completed 16 of his 36 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns and top receiver Scott Valberg was restricted to 76 yards on seven catches against the Mustangs.

That all changed this week, and those three offensive leaders were instrumental in giving the Gaels a 52-0 lead by halftime. All three were replaced shortly after the half, but their stats were still impressive. Brannagan completed 14 of 18 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns, Giffin rushed for a career-high 220 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries and Valberg reeled in seven passes for 168 yards and four touchdowns.

Sheahan said the impressive offensive stats have to be considered in the context of the opposition, though.

“When you’re playing an inferior opponent, you get away with some things,” he said.

Sheahan said his stars stepped up in the first half, but he was happy to get the chance to give some of his lesser-used players and backups more prominent roles after halftime when the game was well in hand.

“It was a good effort and we used a lot of people,” he said. “There was a lot of opportunity to get some people more playing time. I believe everybody did, and we’re a better team for it.”

Sheahan said getting those players time on the field is important down the stretch, when they may be called upon to step up in case of injuries.

“It’s playing time in games that is the most appropriate kind of experience to get,” he said. “Practice is good, but getting out there and seeing things at the game speed in live action, it makes the kids better.”

Sheahan said he was particularly impressed by backup running backs Marty Gordon and Jimmy Therrien.

“[They’re] two very good football players, who fortunately or unfortunately happen to be existing in the shadow of Mike Giffin right now,” he said. “Everybody in the nation, or everybody who was watching, saw that they’re both quality players and very capable guys.”

The Gaels’ next game will be against the seventh-ranked, 3-3 University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, who have lost their last two games. Sheahan said the Gaels will be in for a tough test.

“Ottawa will bring a completely different set of challenges,” he said. “They’re a much more athletic team, they’re a very seasoned team, and they’ve faced a little bit of mid-season adversity now. They’ve lost three of their six games, so we’re pretty sure they’re going to be hungry.”

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