Gaels win Yates Cup in thriller at Richardson

Brannagan, Faulds combine for more than 1,000 yards in game that saw seven lead changes

Saturday, Nov. 14, 7:42 p.m.

The hands of Queen’s football players held the Yates Cup for the first time in 31 years today.

The 43-39 game changed leads seven times before Queen's walked away with the 102-year old trophy.

The game was fan-pleasing football. Most of the student side emptied out onto the field and mobbed the Gaels at the final whistle.

Queen’s led by 10 points at half-time, but the Mustangs were up 39-36 with three minutes left in the game.

A Queen’s drive that began in their own zone ended in a touchdown when quarterback Danny Brannagan’s 16-yard pass connected with receiver Scott Valberg. It was Valberg’s second touchdown of the game.

The score didn’t change after that.

Western’s attempt to retaliate in the final minute was deflated when OUA MVP and Mustangs quarterback Michael Faulds was sidelined after sustaining a leg injury. A hobbled Faulds came back for a last-ditch third and long, but the Mustangs came up short.

Both Brannagan and Faulds passed for more than 500 yards in the game.

“We knew it was going to be a shootout—something that the defence doesn’t want,” said Gaels defensive end Shomari Williams. “[Faulds] the best player in the league and he showed it today.”

The OUA championship featured the two most prolific passers in Canadian University history.
Both defences had difficulty. The 7,253-strong crowd at Richardson witnessed a number of long completions, including a 67-yard Brannagan pass to Devan Sheahan for a touchdown and a 59-yard Faulds completion to Jesse Bellamy in the end zone.

Head coach Pat Sheahan said the difference was the Gaels defence made shut-down plays when in counted.

“There was over 80 points scored today,” he said. “Fortunately we had some real character defense when we needed it.”

Sheahan said today was a different achievement than any other he’s had.

“This is my fourth league title,” Sheahan said. “This is my first at Queen’s – it’s special.”

Before he lifted the cup to a boom from the celebratory home-crowd, Sheahan thanked the fans.

Brannagan said the crowd at Richardson was the reason behind several plays that clinched the game, including a Mustangs offside in the game’s final drive.

“It made a big difference,” he said.

Brannagan was named Yates Cup MVP; the first title he’s won over Faulds, who earned both the all-time CIS passing record as well as OUA MVP. Brannagan said awards aren’t the focus.

“Overall the win is way bigger,” he said. “Individual awards in a team game are something on their own.”

The win today earns the Gaels another week of growing their playoff beards before hosting the Laval Rouge et Or next weekend in the Mitchell Bowl – the last game before the Vanier Cup.

Tight end Chris Ioannides, who made several key first-down catches, said the win’s magnitude is inconceivable to anyone who wasn’t wearing a Gaels uniform.

“I’m so happy you have no idea. This is five years of blood, sweat and tears and we’re finally here. This matters more than you can imagine, my friend.”

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