Gaels football fall behind in OUA standings

A 'matter of a few bounces' put team under pressure

After their first three games of the season against teams in the CIS top 10, one thing became clear for Queen’s football — there wasn’t time to get settled into the season.

With their first two games of the regular season on the road — against the Laurier Golden Hawks, who defeated the Gaels last year 49-26 on Queen’s Homecoming Weekend, and the Guelph Gryphons, whose only loss of the season en route to winning the Yates Cup came at the Gael’s hands — it was clear the Gaels wouldn’t be granted an easy route to playoff contention.

But after losing both their first two games, the Gaels find themselves as one of three teams without wins in the OUA, along with Toronto and Waterloo.

Queen’s has yet to play three games like many of their OUA counterparts, but it is still clear that better play is needed to be considered among Ontario’s best.

Nevertheless, the “24-hour rule” has third-year linebacker Michael Moore still feeling optimistic about the team’s ongoing playoff push.

“You have 24 hours after a game to think about it and react to it. Then you have to forget and move on,” Moore explained on Sunday, just after the team’s 24 hours of contemplation had ended following their 38-29 loss
to Guelph.

Over the past three seasons, a minimum 4-4 record over the eight-game season has been the standard to be one of six teams to qualify for the playoffs.

And while winning four of the team’s next six games is certainly achievable, the Gaels are now facing a third consecutive challenge: the opening of Richardson Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 17 against team rival Western Mustangs, who’ve scored 158 points over their three games so far while allowing just 58.

Moore believes the team’s on-field results have taught them many lessons of adversity and where they match up against the other teams in the league.

“I think it’s good for us,” Moore said, adding that facing their top competition early in the season forces the Gaels to play at a higher level. “We’ve had chances to win both games … it’s just a matter of a few bounces not going our way.”

“The main thing our team’s trying to push this year is consistent play,” Moore said. “We were right with them, but weren’t consistent enough.”

Against the Gryphons, the Gaels’ chance at victory wasn’t out of reach. In fact, the team carried an 11-8 lead into the second half, upping the lead to 21-8 after a 49-yard touchdown pass from quaterback Nate Hobbs to wide-out Ryan Keays and a 43-yard field goal from kicker Nick Liberatore.

But in the final seven minutes of the third quarter, Guelph stormed back for three consecutive rushing touchdowns on four possessions, going up 29-21. The last of the three touchdowns, with no time left on the clock in the third quarter, came on a one-play drive initiated from Hobbs’ interception.

A 77-yard touchdown rush from the Gaels’ sophomore Chris Osei-Kusi put the Gaels back within striking distance with twelve minutes remaining, but a failed two-point conversion attempt saw Queen’s miss their chance for a level score in the fourth quarter.

Despite their rough start, confidence remains high in the locker room ahead of a big week of preparation for their stadium opener on Saturday.

“We’re definitely excited, we don’t see ourselves as underdogs,” Moore said. “It’s a game everyone’s had circled on their calendars for a while.”

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