Gaels nearly shut out Lions on Homecoming weekend

Defence shines in 23-2 win

Queen’s beats York at Homecoming for the third time in six years.
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Queen’s alumni were out in full force as the Gaels took a well-earned 23-2 win over the York Lions this Homecoming weekend.

In front of 4,229 fans, the Queen’s defence started the game off on a strong note, with the pass rush not allowing York quarterback Brett Hunchak any time to operate, and ultimately forcing a two-and-out.

The Gaels made the most of their first offensive possession of the game, driving the field 71 yards on eight plays for a score. The first drive for the Gaels heavily featured the running game—running backs Rasheed Tucker and Jake Puskas carried the ball six times for 39 yards between them.

On second down and four, Gaels quarterback James Keenan took the snap, scanned the field, locked onto receiver Richard Burton, and dropped a perfect touch pass to the back corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Kicker Ben Hadley’s extra point made the score 7-0.

On their second drive of the game, the Lions once again struggled to move the ball against the Gaels. The Gaels stopped York on second down and six to force them to punt again. Lions punter Dante Mastrogiusep struck the ball well and sent the ball sailing out of bounds at the Queen’s one-yard line.

Having run the ball so well on their previous drive, the Gaels made the strategic play call to hand the ball to Rasheed Tucker, who was promptly tackled in the end zone before he could make his first read.

The safety would come as York’s first and only points of the game.

Following a booming punt from Hadley, the Lions offence started their drive deep in their own territory. On the first play of the drive, linebacker Nolan Bedard came downfield and tackled Lions running back Bryan Deans for a minimal gain.

Facing second and long on the next set of downs, Hunchak was met in the backfield by defensive lineman Gabriel Boucher who recorded the sack.

The play from Boucher made the Lions elect to give up a safety instead of punting. The Gaels took a 9-0 lead to end the first quarter of action.

Queen’s started the second quarter with the ball. Keenan kicked things off with a 15-yard scramble, which was followed up by a 36-yard rush from Tucker. The run by Tucker gave the Gaels a first and ten from the York 15-yard line.

Keenan dropped back looking to pass, but pressure came from the left side and he was forced to start rolling to the right. On the run, Keenan once again found Richard Burton in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown, the second touchdown connection on the afternoon for them.

The Gaels added a field goal later in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 19-2 lead.

The Gaels defence continued to dominate in the second half. Defensive coordinator Ryan Bechmanis and his unit didn’t allow a single offensive point from the Lions and would force the Lions to give up two more safeties in the 23-2 win.

The Gaels defence was dominant, collecting a total of 40 tackles, four sacks, six tackles for a loss of yardage, one fumble recovery, and four pass breakups.

This Homecoming weekend was bittersweet for the Gaels—they landed a win, and played one of their best games of the season, but it was also their last. Unfortunately, the 2019 OUA Football season has come to a close for Queen's as they missed the playoffs with a record of 3-5 for the second consecutive year.

In his first year as Queen’s Head Coach, Steve Snyder couldn’t lead his Gaels to the promised land. However, he did accomplish his goal of establishing a culture right away, and getting the players to buy into his coaching philosophy, setting the foundation for a new era of Gaels football.

The 2019 Gaels football season has come to a close, but there is plenty to be optimistic about for the fall of 2020.

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