Football ekes win against Mac

Gaels’ defence shines as they hold Marauder offence scoreless

McMaster wide receiver tries to get past defensive back Rich Addison (22) and linebacker T.J. Leeper during Saturday’s game at Richardson Stadium. The Gaels won 8-7.
McMaster wide receiver tries to get past defensive back Rich Addison (22) and linebacker T.J. Leeper during Saturday’s game at Richardson Stadium. The Gaels won 8-7.
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Marauder receiver Michael Dicroce leaps to make a catch against Queen’s defensive back David Rooney.
Marauder receiver Michael Dicroce leaps to make a catch against Queen’s defensive back David Rooney.
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The Gaels’ defensive unit celebrates being awarded the game ball.
The Gaels’ defensive unit celebrates being awarded the game ball.
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Richardson Stadium seemed bound to feature another shootout involving the No. 7 ranked Queen’s Gaels as they hosted the only other OUA team to score 52 points in week one, the McMaster Marauders. When the crowd filed out after the final whistle, many were understandably surprised at the 8-7 Queen’s victory.

Neither offence managed to get off the ground during Saturday’s game. The game’s only touchdown came with four minutes remaining in the first quarter when Gaels’ quarterback Danny Brannagan—who left the game due to injury—completed a one yard pass to tight-end Chris Ioannides. Queen’s other point came from a third quarter single, and McMaster’s only points came from their special teams unit who notched two field goals and a single of their own.

Queen’s head coach Pat Sheahan said both teams had difficulty playing their second game in five days.

“I thought we had a pretty good first quarter,” he said. “Two games in five days is something CFL athletes can handle but at this level what you need to do is you need a get a day off, you need to recuperate and you have to watch the other team’s film pretty good. This whole week was pretty rushed, same as the other team, and I think that contributed to why the game went a little bit differently than many people would’ve expected.”

Brannagan left the game after taking a hit after a seven yard rush, leading to rookie quarterback Justin Chapdelaine’s debut and, later, an appearance from third-year wide-receiver-turned-quarterback Thomas Howes.

“[Brannagan’s] from the Hamilton area and there’s no stepping out of bounds when you’re playing the guys from your own neighbourhood,” Sheahan said. “I would’ve probably preferred that he stepped out and took the five yard gain than the seven yard gain, we probably could’ve done without those two yards.”

A week after giving up 525 yards to the Guelph Gryphons, the Gaels held McMaster to a mere 158 yards, a feat Sheahan put down to the availability of game film that wasn’t there in week one.

Gaels’ linebacker T.J. Leeper said watching game film allowed Queen’s to play much better defense against the Marauders.

“We watched a lot of tape and tried to figure out what they were going to run and when they were going to run it,” he said.

After their poor performance against the Gryphons, Leeper said the Gaels’ defensive unit was looking to prove its steel.

“We were anxious to get back out there and prove to ourselves and everyone else that we’re a good defense,” he said. “This week we really went out and showed that we are the defence we thought we were.”

Gaels’ running back Jimmy Therrien said Chapdelaine and Howes showed immense composure, keeping the Gaels in the game after Brannagan’s injury.

“Justin and Tommy did a good job managing the game,” he said. “It’s tough to come in as a first year against a team like this.”

Therrien notched a career-high 181 rushing yards against the Marauders, but warned against any signs he’ll be able to put up the same numbers as departed running back Mike Giffin.

“It would be hard to get it back to where it was last year, we had someone outstanding last year,” he said. “I think that Danny set us up last week by throwing for 500 yards, so at the beginning of the game everyone [on McMaster’s defence] dropped into coverage and it was easy to run the ball. A good balance is what we’re going to strive for this year. We’ve got the best quarterback in the nation and probably the best offensive line in the nation too. We just have to balance the offence and other teams won’t know what’s coming.”

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