Victory at last

Win over Blues snaps losing skid

The Gaels put up over 600 yards of total offence, on the way to their first victory of the 2014 season.
The Gaels put up over 600 yards of total offence, on the way to their first victory of the 2014 season.

Though it was too late to salvage their playoff hopes, the Gaels earned their first win of the 2014 season last Saturday.

After getting eliminated from playoff contention during their bye week, Queen’s (1-5) earned a 48-27 victory over the visiting Toronto Varsity Blues (1-5) at Richardson Stadium.

The Gaels outgained their opponents on offence for the first time this season, putting up 637 total yards, including 484 through the air.

Fifth-year quarterback Billy McPhee completed 22 of 35 passes for 406 yards, three touchdown passes and two interceptions. With his huge performance, McPhee moved into second place all-time on the Gaels’ career passing list with 7,775 yards, trailing only Danny Brannagan.

“This was the best game of the season for our offence. We should have scored over 50 points for the game if we didn’t make a mistake on a screen pass near the end of the game,” said Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan. “We moved the football well and our receivers, Curtis Carmichael and Alex Carroll, had some fantastic catches. Anytime you get over 600 yards of total offence, you’re having a good day and I was very pleased about that.”

The Varsity Blues fumbled on each of their first three possessions of the game and the Gaels took advantage early, with a 68-yard touchdown pass from McPhee to Carmichael and an 18-yard field goal from kicker Dillon Wamsley.

Queen’s couldn’t hold the lead for the remainder of the first quarter, as Toronto scored 10 points in the final five minutes of the quarter to tie things up after 15 minutes of play.

The Gaels responded early in the second quarter, with McPhee throwing his second touchdown pass of the day, this time connecting with Carroll. Those were the only points scored in the frame, as both McPhee and his Toronto counterpart Simon Nassar threw interceptions to end promising drives.

Queen’s got a huge boost from its special teams after the intermission, as rookie linebacker Michael Moore and second-year lineman Nicholas Dowd combined to block a punt on Toronto’s first possession of the second half.

Moore had an outstanding game for the Gaels, finishing with an interception and two forced fumbles.

“Moore has been outstanding this year, being the starting middle linebacker from the second half of the first game against Windsor,” Sheahan said. “He had a great athletic play to get that interception and he’s playing like a veteran player.”

Fifth-year lineman Derek Wiggan scooped up the loose ball on the blocked punt and returned it 75 yards to the Toronto three-yard line. Gaels fullback Justin Gleben punched it into the end zone two plays later, extending Queen’s lead.

“That was the big turnover play of the day which turned the momentum towards our favour,” Sheahan said. “Everyone got excited about that play and it elevated the emotional level on our bench.”

Though Toronto responded with a touchdown and a rouge to cut the lead to 24-18 with 8:40 left in the third quarter, the Gaels scored 24 of the final 33 points in the game to put things away.

Carmichael scored on a strange play with eight seconds left in the third quarter, recovering a Carroll fumble and taking the ball into the end zone for a touchdown.

After forcing the Varsity Blues to punt again on the next drive, Queen’s went for the kill as running back Jesse Andrews scored on a six-yard run to make it 41-20.

The final touchdown pass of the day was thrown by Gaels rookie quarterback Nate Hobbs, who connected with receiver Doug Corby on a 60-yard catch-and-run for his first-ever CIS touchdown pass.

Queen's will host the York Lions (0-6) at Richardson Stadium tomorrow for Homecoming. The Gaels have never lost to the Lions in the history of the two schools’ football programs.

“The kids are fired up about winning the Homecoming game,” Sheahan said. “We know there will be a lot of fans there and a strong student contingent. We’ll be working hard to make sure we can win this one.”

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