Gaels can’t close game in overtime

‘Rivarly Weekend’ ends on a bitter note in front of packed crowd at Richardson Stadium

Running back Jimmy Therrien battles against the Ottawa defence in the Gaels’ 27-25 loss on Saturday at Richardson Stadium.
Running back Jimmy Therrien battles against the Ottawa defence in the Gaels’ 27-25 loss on Saturday at Richardson Stadium.
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A forgettable beginning led to a potential upset for the Queen’s Gaels as they battled from a 14-point deficit to take the nationally ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees to overtime at Richardson Stadium on Saturday. The Gaels’ 27-25 loss came after the Gee-Gees completed a 30 yard field goal during the first possession of overtime. Their loss brings the Gaels to a 1-3 record and was their first loss in Kingston since 2007.

Early in the game, the Gaels were forced into a desperate situation after Chapdelaine’s shaky start. On the first three plays of the game, he dropped the ball twice and threw an interception. He was quickly replaced by rookie quarterback Billy McPhee.

“It was horrible,” Chapdelaine said. “I played horrible. I couldn’t get a grip on the ball. It was embarrassing.”

McPhee’s action was short lived, completing two of seven passes for 30 yards and two interceptions. Chapdelaine was promptly brought back in, but he said that it was rough to be taken out so quickly. Never the less, the rest of his team including receiver Giovanni Aprile never lost confidence in their young quarterback’s ability.

“We knew he was going to do what he did out there,” Aprile said. “We were just waiting for it to happen and it did.”

Chapdelaine came back in with calm and composure. He finished the game with 18 passes on 28 attempts, rushing for 335 yards. He threw for one touchdown to Aprile and rushed for two. For rookie receiver Aprile, this was the touchdown of his CIS career. Much of his heroics came in the second half finishing with a career-best seven receptions for 179 yards.

Head coach Pat Sheahan said that Chapdelaine sitting out offered him the opportunity to collect himself after his rough start.

“Justin got a little flustered there at the beginning,” he said. “I think everybody understands now as a young quarterback, it’s hard to go out there and carry the load themselves. Fortunately we gave Justin the opportunity to calm down, get his heart rate back into something that is measurable. [When we] put him back out there, I think that he did exceptionally well.”

The slow start led many to believe that the 4-0 Gee-Gees would be too much for this young Gaels squad. The Gee-Gees were only held off in the first quarter by the Gaels’ outstanding defence who worked overtime as the offence collected themselves from their horrible start.

“I don’t think it could have started any worse than it did,” Sheahan said “[The defence] saved us. They bailed us out during the first half ... The first half Ottawa probably had an overwhelming advantage there ... Ottawa’s got a big strike game, they’ve got a lot of weapons. They have a well-trained, experienced quarterback who I thought made some really good plays.”

After the Gaels took the lead in the fourth quarter, Ottawa’s fourth-year quarterback Brad Sinopoli was able to pull his team back into a tie with Queen’s on a 68 yard touchdown pass. The teams would trade field goals within two minutes of each other to send the game into overtime.

Sheahan said he was impressed with his team’s effort. The young squad experienced a tough start to the season where mistakes and penalties amounted to three losses.

“You’ve got to remember with these guys, you’re running out there and there’s 8 or 9,000 people,” he said. “This is the first time everything they do is a play of consequence, in front of a big crowd, lots of noise ... These things have an impact. You’ve got to get used to playing under those situations. It was a terrific effort [against Ottawa], normally you win those.”

With a season slipping away from them, the Gaels are looking to redeem themselves against their rival the Western Mustangs next weekend in London. The Gaels still have hopes for the playoffs. With three of their losses having been decided by eight or less points, the Gaels remain a threat to anyone who doesn’t take this team seriously.

“Our goal is to be one of those teams that nobody wants to play at the end of the year,” he said. “I think we’ve almost earned those stripes. It was a borderline disaster when we got behind by 14 and then we battled back ... [We need to] play confidently from the opening whistle to the end.”

Even with the comfort of almost beating the number two ranked team in Canada, the Gaels were unable to control their frustration. Chapdelaine said Ottawa’s ranking did not affect their attitude going into the game and that the Gaels are focusing on themselves.

“I’m sick and tired of losing,” he said. “I just wanted to get that ‘W’. I wanted to win for the team. I wish we were 4-0 right now ... You can’t complain about it. What’s done is done. We’ll move on to the next one. We’re at Western next week [for] their homecoming, [let’s] go get it.”

The Gaels are in London next weekend to play the Western Mustangs at 1 p.m.

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