Queen’s tops uOttawa in football home opener

Gaels score four touchdowns, come away with 30-7 win over Gee-Gees

With their 2-0 record, the Gaels are currently ranked number one in the OUA East.

The Queen’s Gaels beat the uOttawa Gee-Gees during their home opener on Saturday.

With the 30-7 win at Richardson Stadium, the Gaels have improved to 2-0 on the season and sit on top of the OUA Eastern Conference standings.

With Queen’s Men’s Football Team returning to Richardson for the first time since 2019, there was an energy that didn’t go unnoticed by head coach Steve Snyder.

“It felt great for everyone, great student turnout, which is really important for us. Just really excited to be back and happy that everyone enjoyed […] a well-played football game,” Snyder told The Journal in an interview

Before the game could begin, however, the stands went silent in honour of Francis Perron, a Gee-Gees Linebacker who passed away last week after uOttawa’s game against the University of Toronto (UofT).

After Ottawa won the coin toss and elected to receive to begin the second half, the Gaels began their first drive with two strong carries by running back Rasheed Tucker before being forced to punt.  

On his opening drive, Gee-Gees quarterback Ben Maracle found similar success before Gaels’ lineman Anthony Federico knocked down a pass to stall the team’s progress.

After Queen’s turned the ball over on downs, the defence gave the Gaels momentum once more when linebacker Nolan Bedard intercepted a pass from Maracle near the end of the quarter.

Starting the second quarter deep in Ottawa territory, Queen’s quarterback James Keenan found the endzone early, throwing a long touchdown pass to receiver Richard Burton. After Bedard blocked an Ottawa punt five minutes into the quarter, Keenan scored again, running in for the touchdown.

When asked about his running game in a post-game interview, Keenan told The Journal it’s a fundamental part of his identity as a quarterback.

“It’s just something I’ve always grown up with and something that’s always been in my toolbox. When the situation lets me use my legs, I’m always going to be prone to use them,” he explained.

On Ottawa’s ensuing drive, Gaels’ defensive back Thompson McCallum intercepted Maracle before fullback Konner Burtenshaw rushed for a touchdown and the Gaels forced an Ottawa safety.

After another pass block by Federico shut the Ottawa offense out of the first half, Queen’s was assessed for two penalties to stall their last drive of the quarter.

In speaking about the number of penalties throughout the game, though, Snyder was optimistic.

“Just smart football, that’s our emphasis right now. Lining up, communicating well […] playing with your feet. When you play with your feet, you take less penalties.”

After kicking off to Ottawa to start the second half, the Gaels’ defence reasserted itself when Federico sacked Maracle during the Gee-Gees’ opening drive. A strong carry by Konner Burtenshaw three minutes later gave the Gaels their fourth touchdown of the game while Maracle was sacked again, this time by lineman Owen Stewart.

When asked about the team’s run game, Snyder stated it’s something they plan to put to use in every outing this season.

 “Every opponent we play, we’re going to want to come out and run the ball […] we believe in our offensive line and our run game,” he said.

After a missed 43-yard field goal from Nick Liberatore, Ottawa regained possession to start the final quarter. With the assistance of two Queen’s penalties, the Gee-Gees entered the red zone, but failed to score after Maracle’s last pass hit the goal post.

Another Queen’s sack by Andrew Mellens should have ended the game early, but with Keenan pulled, Ottawa broke through as replacement quarterback Nathan Walker completed a five-yard pass for the score with less than 30 seconds on the game clock.

After the game, Snyder emphasized his focus on improving on their late-game performance in the future. When asked if his team could hit a higher gear, he responded that it’s a requisite.

“There’s going to need to be another gear. The second half, offensively, wasn’t very strong. We did a good job starting the game fast and jumping out to an early lead […] but ultimately in the second half, we’re going to have to play a lot better [in future games].”

The Gaels’ next match will be an away game against the UofT Varsity Blues on Oct. 2. Kickoff will be at 4:00 p.m.

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