Redemption at Richardson

After two heartbreaking losses last year, Queen’s triumphs over Guelph

Queen’s receivers hauled in three touchdown passes against Guelph.
Queen’s receivers hauled in three touchdown passes against Guelph.

The Gaels slayed the beast on Saturday, defeating the Guelph Gryphons 37-23 in their final game of regular season football.

With memories of last season’s two fourth-quarter collapses versus the Gryphons fresh in their minds, the Gaels played their most complete game of the year in front of a packed Richardson Stadium during the second Homecoming weekend.

The home victory clinched second place in the OUA for the Gaels and a first-round playoff bye, ending Guelph’s shot at a perfect regular season.

Gaels quarterback Billy McPhee had one of his signature performances wearing gold, throwing for 297 yards and three touchdowns, completing 24 of 35 passes with only one interception.

McPhee looked calm in the pocket, reading the Gryphons’ defence well and scrambling when necessary.

“I would go as far to say that was Billy McPhee’s best game here as a Queen’s Golden Gael,” said head coach Pat Sheahan. “The one constant throughout the game was Billy. Good players make other players around you better, and he did that today.”

McPhee’s best play of the day came with 52 seconds remaining in the first half, helping Queen’s reclaim a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

A quick three-minute flurry in the second quarter from the Gryphons saw quarterback Jazz Lindsey score on a quarterback keeper, followed by an eight-yard touchdown pass to Carl Trivieri that left the Gaels down 16-7.

Needing some positive momentum going into halftime, McPhee led Queen’s on a seven play, 76-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass to receiver Aaron Gazendam.

The game-defining play saw McPhee coolly sidestep pressure before throwing the strike to Gazendam, who made an excellent extension on the grab.

Kicker Dillon Wamsley capped off the half with a 19-yard field goal to give the Gaels a 17-16 lead.

“It was important to grab the lead before halftime, but Guelph’s a team that will make you play all four quarters,” McPhee said.

The Gaels’ defence was stout as ever, and the recently-quiet secondary exploded for three interceptions. Defensive back Andrew Lue picked off Lindsey twice, earning him Player of the Game honours.

Equally impressive was the Gaels’ front seven. Derek Wiggan led the defensive line with 3.5 tackles and Cory Dyer chipped in a key fourth-quarter strip of Gryphons running back Rob Farquharson.

They held the dangerous Lindsey in check, bottling him up for only 15 rushing yards.

Linebacker Mike Leroux had another electric performance, recording four tackles, including a bone-crushing hit on Gryphons slotback Alexander Charette.

“By shutting down their [rushing game], we forced them to be more one-dimensional,” Wiggan said. “That makes for easy two-and-outs and gets our offence back out [on the field].”

Feature back Ryan Granberg was sharp, rushing for 101 yards on 14 carries. He came into the game late on a first-and-20, cutting once to the left before breaking four tackles as he converted the first down.

His outstanding individual effort set up a nine-yard touchdown pass from McPhee to receiver Peter Hannon to make the score 37-16, driving the final nail into the Gryphons’ coffin.

Guelph’s loss broke their undefeated season and forces them to play an OUA quarterfinal game at home next week against Austin Kennedy and the Windsor Lancers.

Should the Gryphons advance, they’ll face the Gaels in a rematch at Richardson on Nov. 2.

The Gaels are looking to rest up during their bye week and prepare to meet their semi-final opponent in front of an electric home crowd.

“If you look at the past few years, teams with the first-round bye have gone on to the Yates [Cup],” Wiggan said. “We’ve got to take advantage of that opportunity.”

Three Downs

Corby’s Catch

Billy McPhee threw a pass to Doug Corby in a perfect spot where only Corby could catch it. The receiver made an incredible over the shoulder sideline grab leading to Daniel Heslop’s late third-quarter touchdown.

Doubling Down

Curtis Carmichael took out two Gryphons with one block on a punt return, allowing Corby to have space to take the ball outside. The punt return set up Dillon Wamsley’s second field goal of the day.

Twice the Homecoming, Twice the Onside Kicks

In a rare occurrence, both teams recovered onside kicks during the game. Guelph’s recovery was a thing of beauty as Jacob Scarfone made an extremely athletic reception to recover a short kickoff.

Josh Burton

OUA Standings

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

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