Gearing up for Yates Cup

5,000 tickets bought up as football team looks to win its first OUA title in over 30 years

Running back Marty Gordon dives for a touchdown during the Gaels’ 32-6 win over the McMaster Marauders last Saturday.
Running back Marty Gordon dives for a touchdown during the Gaels’ 32-6 win over the McMaster Marauders last Saturday.
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Quarterback Danny Brannagan makes a pass last Saturday.
Quarterback Danny Brannagan makes a pass last Saturday.
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Corner Jimmy Allin makes a pick during Saturday’s semifinal.
Corner Jimmy Allin makes a pick during Saturday’s semifinal.
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Queen’s football hasn’t competed in a Yates Cup since 2002. They haven’t won since 1978.

For the first time in 31 years, they’re hosting it tomorrow.

The Gaels’ first provincial championship appearance in seven years will be against the bitter rival Western Mustangs who beat the Gaels in their last playoff tilt in 2007.

Gaels defensive end Osie Ukwuoma was awarded OUA defensive player of the week after his performance in last Saturday’s semifinal victory of the McMaster Marauders. He said the rivalry with Western isn’t about football.

“It’s more external. It’s about the history between the two schools, not the football teams.”

The two teams aren’t without history, though. This season Mustangs quarterback Michael Faulds and Gaels quarterback Danny Brannagan were both in contention for the CIS all-time passing record. Faulds finished ahead of Brannagan and was named the OUA’s MVP yesterday.

“[Faulds is] a good player, but he’s just one player. He’s not up on any pedestal because of his name,” Ukwuoma said. “We’ve got enough fuel in the fire. We feel what we’ve been building for the past four or five years are going to culminate this year.”

Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan said the team isn’t concerned with records or history.

“There’s a lot of excitement about Western.” he said. “I hate to be disappointing here, but, to be quite honest with you, it’s all about the science of the game now for us.”

The game has garnered some major attention. Just fewer than 5,000 tickets had been sold at press time; half of Richardson Stadium’s capacity. The Score will broadcast the game and the band Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker will perform during halftime.

Sheahan said the Western offense is the major threat standing between the Gaels first Yates Cup victory over three decades.

“You don’t shut these people down,” he said. “Nobody has shut [Faulds] down this year. He was very good against us.”

The last time the two teams met, on Oct. 17, a Gaels 30-yard touchdown in the final seconds

decided the game by one point.

The Mustangs are the two-time defending Yates Cup champions. They defeated the Laurier Golden Hawks, the only team to beat Queen’s this season, last weekend in semifinal play to advance to their second OUA championship in two years.

Brannagan said he isn’t worried about Western’s experience.

“Because we’ve never played in the Yates Cup doesn’t mean we haven’t played big games,” he said.

A victory tomorrow propels the winning team to the Mitchell Bowl, which pits the OUA champion against the Quebec division champion. The winner of the Mitchell Bowl competes in the Vanier Cup.

Brannagan said he isn’t picturing a Canadian championship ring on his finger yet.

“The last two years have reinforced the idea that when it’s one-game elimination you can’t look past,” he said. “If a fluke happens in this game, there’s no game after.”

The Gaels host the Western Mustangs tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Richardson Stadium. Tickets can still be purchased from the PEC front desk.

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