New year, same defeat

Western dominates at Richardson, dropping Gaels to 0-3

Queen’s struggled with establishing consistent running, gaining only 73 yards on the ground.
Queen’s struggled with establishing consistent running, gaining only 73 yards on the ground.
The Gaels defence allowed 318 rushing yards against Western, including 112 to Mustangs quarterback Will Finch.
The Gaels defence allowed 318 rushing yards against Western, including 112 to Mustangs quarterback Will Finch.

A disheartening loss to an archrival dropped the Gaels to 0-3 on the season on Saturday.

Facing the Western Mustangs (2-0) at Richardson Stadium, the Gaels fell 43-12 in a rematch of the 2013 Yates Cup. Adverse playing conditions and an ineffective offence played a role in Queen’s loss.

On a rainy, windy afternoon, the Gaels ran 12 plays inside Western’s five-yard line, but only managed to score 10 points from those plays, losing the trench battle to the bigger and more experienced Mustangs.

“What you need to do against [Western], is you need to score at least 35 to 40 points to be in it,” head coach Pat Sheahan said. “Had we cashed in on some of our chances early, we would have made more of a game of it.”

Queen’s had opportunities to come back and win after falling behind early, trailing 26-12 with just over 15 minutes remaining.

Just before the end of the third quarter Gaels fullback Aaron Dowd appeared to cross the plane of the goal-line to cut the lead to seven. The referees saw differently and ruled him down at the one.

On third down, the Gaels failed to score and the Mustangs put the game out of reach with a 109-yard scoring drive.

The red zone inefficiency began in the first quarter, as running back Jonah Pataki and quarterback Billy McPhee combined for five straight runs for no gain inside Western’s five-yard line. Queen’s settled for a field goal and led 3-2 after the first frame.

The offence continued to struggle in the second quarter. Though McPhee rebounded after a slow start, completing 19 of 37 passes for 214 yards, the Gaels mounted just one offensive touchdown drive.

“I was a little bit disappointed with our offensive production and I thought we could have been better,” Sheahan said. “We kept giving them chances, and they have a lot of weapons.”

After Queen’s returner Doug Corby fumbled a second-quarter punt deep in Gaels territory, the Mustangs made them pay on the very next play, with Matt Uren catching the first touchdown pass of the game. Western added another touchdown with 1:38 left in the half and led 19-3 at the break.

After the Mustangs stretched their lead to 26-5 after the intermission, Queen’s finally converted on third-and-goal from the one-yard line, with receiver Alex Carroll catching a pass from McPhee to make it 26-12.

The Gaels defence then forced a turnover as defensive back Jake Firlotte picked off an errant Mustangs pass. This led to the crucial drive which ended with Dowd being ruled just short of the end zone on second down.

Western scored 17 more points in the fourth quarter to put the game away. A deflated Gaels squad was unable to respond.

The Gaels remain in last place in the OUA with a 0-3 record, after having their Sept. 1 win against the Windsor Lancers wiped away due to eligibility issues.

To make the playoffs, they’ll need to win at least four of their final five games, starting with a road game at Guelph on Sept. 20.

“Now we’re in a playoff situation for the rest of the year and it’s a great atmosphere for our kids to learn. It’s an uphill battle – there’s no question about that,” Sheahan said. “We’ve got a game next week and we need to get ready. We win that game, there’s a completely different complexion on the season.”

Three Downs

Flying Flags

Both the Gaels' field goal and touchdown benefitted from costly Western offside penalties inside the Mustangs' own five-yard line.

Fumble Fest

Each team lost a pair of fumbles in the contest. While Western was able to capitalize on both of Doug Corby’s fumbles with touchdowns, the Gaels only managed a safety from the Western miscues.

Two and Out

Gaels punter Dillon Wamsley had a busy day, punting the ball 14 times. Seven of the third-year kicker’s punts came as a result of a stagnant Queen’s offence going two and out.

Sean Sutherland

OUA Standings

1. McMaster (3-0)

2. Western (2-0)

3. Windsor (2-0)

T-4. Guelph (2-1)

T-4. Laurier (2-1)

T-4. Ottawa (2-1)

7. Carleton (1-1)

8. Toronto (1-2)

T-9. Queen’s (0-3)

T-9. Waterloo (0-3)

T-9. York (0-3)

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