Football hopes storybook ending to season continues in OUA quarter-final

Gaels heads to McMaster hoping for first postseason win since 2013

Quarterback Nate Hobbs leads the OUA in total passing yards with 2,570.

When the football team was 0-4, Queen’s head coach Pat Sheahan told reporters his team still had a chance to write a story — and a pretty good one. 

“That’s right,” quarterback Nate Hobbs said, recalling Sheahan’s words of encouragement. “We’ve been authors of our own story, it’s seemed.”

With a trip to nationally-ranked sixth McMaster this weekend to open their playoff run, Hobbs — who closed the regular season as the OUA’s leading passer in terms of total yards and touchdowns — hopes the Gaels’ story can continue after this week.  

“We really got a chance to do something special,” the fourth-year player said. “We just got to take it week-by-week and hopefully the story will keep writing itself.” 

During Queen’s four-game winning streak to get back to 4-4, they’ve become one of the OUA’s hottest teams. In the month of October, they’ve averaged  over 58 points per game. 

“We’re a team with a lot of momentum,” Hobbs said. He added that the team has grown not only in terms of play, but as well as chemistry since the season’s midway point. “There’s a lot of confidence in the locker room right now and the guys are excited to play.” 

“If there’s any time to play [McMaster], now is the best time,” wide receiver Chris Osei-Kusi said. “Like [the team] all said at the beginning of the season: if we all click at the same time, we become a very dangerous team.”

McMaster boasts one of the conference’s strongest defensive units, conceding a league-low 185 pass yards per game and ranking third in sacks with 25. Even with these numbers in mind, Hobbs said the team is expecting and prepared for the challenge. 

“Throw it before they get there,” the quarterback jokingly said on how he and the offense plans to avoid the Marauders’ blitz-happy pass rush. “[But] we’ve got a plan in place. We know they’re a blitzing team, so we’ve got a lot of quick strike stuff to take advantage of that.” 

Following a breakout season where he led the OUA with seven touchdown receptions and finished second in total receiving yards with 723, Osei-Kusi said the most effective ways to dodge pressure is to have “quick passes and throw where they’re not.” 

“Anything quick, like hooks, slants, maybe some screens … anything quick just to get the ball out of [Hobbs’] hands as quick as possible,” Kusi said.

Sheahan’s message, as both players attested, has been to stay focused and not get too down on themselves if they experience a bump in the road on Saturday afternoon. 

“[O]bviously [McMaster] get a lot of pressure, so if they do get a sack here and there, just brush it off and continue the game,” Kusi recalled his coach telling him. 

As for the Gaels’ playoff prospects, Sheahan kept it short and blunt. 

“If we come out of this playing a great football game, I like our chances; if we don’t go down there and play well, we’ll be finished,” the coach said.

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