Queen’s wins tight offensive battle

Football win season opener by the skin of their cleats

Wide receiver Mark Surya sprawls to make a catch that would have added to Danny Brannagan’s 495 pass yards on Monday’s 52-49 win over Guelph.
Wide receiver Mark Surya sprawls to make a catch that would have added to Danny Brannagan’s 495 pass yards on Monday’s 52-49 win over Guelph.
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Gaels fans from all walks made up the 7,422-strong crowd for the home opener.
Gaels fans from all walks made up the 7,422-strong crowd for the home opener.
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Jimmy Allin breaks free of a tackle at the beginning of his 105 yard kick return touchdown.
Jimmy Allin breaks free of a tackle at the beginning of his 105 yard kick return touchdown.
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A frantic field goal with no time on the clock was the clincher at Monday afternoon’s football game.

The Gaels managed to eke out a 52-49 win over the Guelph Gryphons after being up at one point 46-18. The game was primarily an offensive standoff featuring long drives and the most points scored in an OUA matchup since 1988.

The confident majority of Queen’s supporters that filed out of Richardson Stadium at halftime couldn’t have predicted the game’s finish. Queen’s was up by 18 at half-time and the student section at Richardson stadium was a wasteland, but the game wasn’t decided until long after the exodus.

The Gaels’ defence was without several of last year’s big-game staples such as defensive tackle Dee Sterling and middle linebacker Thaine Carter and the thinned squad had difficulty shutting down Gryphon quarterback Justin Dunk, experiencing a few lapses and allowing the Gryphons to knot the score at 49 in the last minute.

Gaels’ veteran returner Jimmy Allin’s total of 439 return yards and three touchdowns was accompanied by a less-seasoned teammate. Backup kicker Mike Petranovic played his first game Monday with 24 hours notice, replacing the injured Dan Village, and kicked the game-winning 37-yard field goal with seconds notice.

Quarterback Danny Brannagan, who passed for 495 yards and led the drive that set up the field goal, said it was a routine play.

“At least once a day, every day during training camp we would go through a no-huddle drill in a similar situation,” he said. “We were well prepared.”

Petranovic’s debut epitomized trial by fire, beginning with his first three snaps of his university career either bouncing back to him or flying over his head and ending with the game’s conclusion depending on his foot. He said the crucial kick didn’t play much on his nerves.

“I was more nervous about my punting,” he said. “Field goals are kind of natural for me. I was calmer than I expected.” Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan said the decision to make the kick came after gauging Petranovic’s composure.

“I just asked him one question and if he had hesitated we wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “I asked him, ‘Okay, you going to make this?’ and he said, ‘Oh yeah.’”

The Gaels benefitted from more than just Petranovic’s kicking. Almost every time Guelph kicked the ball, something good would happen for Queen’s. Three of the Gaels’ six touchdowns were products of kicks returned by Allin.

After being dropped by the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, Allin’s return to the OUA was dramatic, complete with an electrifying 105 yard kickoff return into the Gryphon end zone and a punt-return yardage that earned him a spot in the CIS record books as second highest in a single game.

“Today just shows how well the guys are blocking upfront,” Allin said. “They’re making me look good.”

Sheahan said Allin’s presence empowers the special teams unit.

“It’s an explosion play every time the kid gets the ball,” he said. “When you have a Jimmy Allin on your team punt return is not a mundane part of practice—it’s something that everybody wants to be a part of because you can make big plays in the ball game.” Sheahan said Monday’s game was perfect for Allin because Gryphon punter Rob Maver is a strong athlete.

“That combination where you have a great punter, where you’ve got high hanging punts that go 45 to 50 yards, you’re going to get some returns if you put it in the hands of a capable returner,” he said.

Guelph head coach Kyle Walters said Allin was the difference in the game.

“It just looked like the best athlete on the field was outrunning inferior athletes,” he said. “From the sideline it looked like a high school game. You go see a high school game from time to time where you see the best kid on the field who at will does whatever the heck he wants.” The Gaels host the McMaster Marauders Saturday at 1 p.m. During the game, Queen’s Athletics will be recognizing military families, and ask that all fans attending the game wear red.

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