Gee-Gees grounded

Western skirmish looms after Gaels improve to 3-0

Bad weather in the nation’s capital didn’t stop Queen’s from remaining undefeated this season.

Battling heavy rain that limited their aerial attack, the Gaels leaned on their defence and running backs as they downed the Ottawa Gee-Gees 36-21 on Saturday.

Queen’s now sits at 4-0, joining the Western Mustangs and the Guelph Gryphons as the OUA’s only teams with perfect records.

Gaels running back Jesse Andrews received the majority of the first-half carries against Ottawa, accumulating 92 yards and two touchdowns before yielding to the speedier Ryan Granberg in the second half.

Not to be outdone, Granberg rushed for a score on his first offensive series and helped the Gaels with 72 rushing yards of his own.

“I thought that Jesse’s yards were hard-earned yards that came in the first half that helped us set the tone and be physical,” said Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan. “It’s always good to be able to bring in a quality ball-carrier in halfway through the third quarter when the defence is getting tired.”

Whoever has Jesse Andrews in CIS fantasy football must be loving this game #fantasypoints

— QJ Sports (@QJsports) September 21, 2013

Quarterback Billy McPhee struggled to connect with his receivers early in the game, missing a few open throws and watching receivers slip on the wet turf. He recovered well after halftime, completing several big-gain plays, including an 85-yard catch-and-run touchdown to third-year wideout Aaron Gazendam.

McPhee finished the game 16-of-32 for 305 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception.

“We went into the game hoping that the weather was not going to be a deterrent to the way we play football,” Sheahan said. “Unfortunately, we allowed it to get the better of us at times.

“That said … there was a couple of explosion plays, especially when we really needed them.”

Impenetrable as always, the Gaels defence made Gee-Gees quarterback Aaron Colbon’s life miserable, sacking him twice and picking him off four times. Defensive back Yann Ditka-Balotoken continued his breakout campaign, intercepting Colbon twice and recording two tackles.

Linebacker Sam Sabourin’s presence was felt all over the field, recording an interception, a pass-breakup, two tackles and a blocked extra point.

“When your defensive unit is performing at a high level, it’s a big confidence builder for the team,” Sheahan said.

Ottawa’s offence was shut out in the first half, giving punter Dominic Bellardini a workout and ensuring the Gaels had decent field position. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that they generated any sustained drive, bringing the game within a score after a 63-yard rush by Colbon set up a touchdown by Maxime Mireault.

A touchdown pass from McPhee to receiver Giovanni Aprile with 3:53 remaining finally put the game out of reach.

The Gaels struggled on special teams, allowing a blocked kick in all phases of the game. The weather likely played a factor, as the wet ball resulted in several low snaps and poor holds.

Queen’s remains on the road next weekend, facing their toughest game of the regular season against Western (5-0). The game marks Western’s 100th anniversary Homecoming and will likely determine the top overall seed in the OUA.

Western’s potent offence has scored a league-best 307 points, but has yet to face a defence as stout as the Gaels’. Sheahan also remains adamant that his team has far from reached their potential.

“The positive message is that they’re 4-0 and we’re still improving,” he said.

Also, excellent play-by-play from Queen's alumni @neatebuzzthenet. Lots of great sports movie and video game references

— QJ Sports (@QJsports) September 21, 2013

OUA Standings

1. Western [5-0]
2. Queen’s [4-0]
3. Guelph [4-0]
4. Windsor [3-2]
5. McMaster [2-3]
6. Ottawa [2-3]
7. York [2-2]
8. Waterloo [1-3]
9. Laurier [1-4]
10. Toronto [1-4]
11. Carleton [0-4]

Three Downs

Extra Points Denied

There were three blocked converts in the game, with Queen’s having two blocked and Ottawa having one.

Running Downhill

The four Gaels running backs were unstoppable in the game, with a combined 216 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Spreading the Wealth

McPhee connected on passes to seven different receivers, with multiple Gaels making important catches.

Josh Burton

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