It's so, so tempting to rub it in after how it went down in London, Ont., last night.
Knowing the Queen's Golden Gaels' come-from-behind 26-20 overtime win over the Western Mustangs was just the first game, plus knowing the 'Stangs have a member of their football family (former CFLer J.P. Gleason, whose brother Paul is the 'Stangs defensive co-ordinator) badly injured in a hit-and-run collision less than a week ago dictates staying mellow. Granted, spoiling Greg Marshall's first game as Western's head coach by coming from two touchdowns down to win on the road is the stuff of Tricolour-tinged schadenfreude.
Mike Giffin (156 yards, including the tying and winning TDs), a retooled Gaels offensive line and defence that hung in (again) delivered a heavy dose of reality, confirming doubts about the Mustangs being ranked No. 7 in the country. (The Gaels didn't even get one vote in the same poll, by the way -- hey, it's not like they beat Western last season and went just as far in the OUA playoffs.)
Queen's coach Pat Sheahan basically beat Marshall at what used to be his game. The Gaels were never able to beat Marshall's McMaster teams a few years back when they were built around Tom Denison throwing the ball from now till next Tuesday. Last night, Sheahan's Gaels stuck with the run even when down by two scores. It led to Giff, a power back with some giddy-up -- basically a discount-store version of Marshall in his playing days -- capping the night with a 22-yard touchdown run for the winning points.
Throw in some special teams woes for Western -- it had two potential game-winning kicks missed by all-Canadian kicker Derek Schiavone and allowed Rob Bagg to pile up 204 yards on punt and kickoff returns. Add in Randy McAuley, who's seemingly been touted for the Hec Crighton Trophy since Jean Chrétien was still PM, rushing for 214 yards but coughing up the ball late in regulation, and boy is this a sweet win for the Gaels.
(The missed field goals are a nice turnabout for Sheahan and the players from the Denison era who never got over the hump vs. Mac. In the 2002 and '03 regular-season meetings, the Marauders' Michael Ray kicked the winning field goal after the Gaels kicker had a big miss. Each time, it cost Queen's first place, which it likely needed to win the Yates Cup.)
Notwithstanding those late misses, it's not quite clear how the Gaels pulled it off. Dan Brannagan didn't look too good in the numbers (just 122 yards), Western had almost 100 more yards in offence and its defence held Bagg to just one catch despite losing standout safety Matt Carapella to an injury during the game.
It's best to be mellow about the Big Yellow Guys this a.m., although this does mark the first time since '91 they've beaten Western and McGill in the same season. Queen's is now 6-2 vs. the Mustangs since the dawn of the decade, so beating them is getting to be less of a big deal. Besides, Western's a decent enough team and the game coulda gone either way. They caught some bad breaks, there's the emotional pain and it's not like the Mustangs players and coaches were the ones ranking themselves seventh in Canada.
So say it once to get it out of your system: "Over-rated!"
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