Second chance

Redemption in reach as Gaels, Gryphons vie for runner-up

This weekend’s Homecoming football game against the Guelph Gryphons won’t only offer the Gaels a chance at a bye, but a shot at redemption.

In last year’s two matchups, Queen’s let Guelph come back from a 20-plus point lead both times, including one fourth-quarter collapse.

With a first-round bye on the line last season, Queen’s squandered a 28-3 lead, allowing Guelph to score 30 unanswered points in their regular season matchup.

When the two teams met in the semis three weeks later, Queen’s blew a 22-point lead before falling 42-39 in overtime.

Running back Ryan Granberg said this time the Gaels need to make sure they don’t coast if they take the lead.

“We have to play like the game is 0-0 the entire time. If we let down our guard at all, they’re the kind of team that will take advantage of that,” he said. “They’re a no-quit team, so we also need to be a no-quit team.”

Tomorrow’s clash will also determine which of the two teams will finish second in the OUA and receive the first-round bye that comes with it.

The winner will also host the OUA semi-final, where it’s likely the two teams will meet up again.

Queen’s currently sits third in the OUA, behind the undefeated Gryphons and the Western Mustangs. If the Gaels can hand Guelph their first loss of the season, they’ll move past them in the standings and secure the bye.

Head coach Pat Sheahan said the additional rest granted by a bye week would be beneficial to the Gaels.

“It is what both teams are playing for, so it’s important,” he said.

Queen’s is coming off a 78-21 shellacking of the Waterloo Warriors, a game in which they generated 801 total yards of offence. The offence will need to continue their strong play, as Guelph’s defence ranks first in the OUA in both yards and points allowed.

Sheahan said the play of Queen’s offensive line will be an important factor in getting the running game established.

“I think one of the things that will come out this thing is how did both teams manage the line of scrimmage,” he said. “If we go out there and run the ball for 50 yards or less, that’s not going to be a good stat.”

Hosting tomorrow’s game may be a major advantage for the Gaels due to the additional support generated from a sold-out stadium. But Sheahan said the team is more focused on the game itself, rather than the festivities associated with it.

“Every player on our team knows the place is sold out … and I think that brings another level of excitement,” he said, “but to be honest, I think our guys are more focused on the football game.”

Football wipes out Waterloo

A furious offensive explosion led the Gaels to a 78-21 victory over the Waterloo Warriors last Friday night at Warrior Field.

Queen’s (6-1) put up 33 points in the first quarter, receiving contributions from the offence, defence and special teams. An overmatched Warriors squad (1-6) did all it could to slow down the Gaels, but the game got out of hand quickly.

Daniel Heslop opened the scoring three minutes in on the Gaels’ first possession, busting out for a 42-yard touchdown run. Less than two minutes later, quarterback Billy McPhee hit receiver Giovanni Aprile for a 63-yard touchdown pass.

Doug Corby returned the Warriors’ ensuing punt for a touchdown, and the rout was on.

Queen’s racked up an outstanding 801 yards of offence. McPhee had his most statistically impressive game of season, finishing 14-of-17 for 277 passing yards and four touchdowns.

All four Gaels running backs maximized their carries, combining for 504 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Heslop, Jonah Pataki and Jesse Andrews all broke the 100-yard mark.

This offensive cohesion couldn’t have come at a better time. The Gaels conclude their regular season on Saturday on national television against their 2012 nemesis, the Guelph Gryphons.

This year, the stakes are just as high.

Josh Burton

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