Tuesday, September 04, 2007


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!"

Golden Gaels win a wild one (Claude Scilley, Kingston Whig-Standard)
Mustangs fumble opener (Morris Dalla Costa, London Free Press)

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to neatesager@yahoo.ca.


Anonymous said...

Great win! If I were a Gael's fan though, I would be concerned that Brannagan had a completion percentage around 40% . Similar to his average last season. As the season goes on and that continues, opposition defences may feel they can cheat a little and key on stopping Queen's running game.
If I was a Western fan. I would be concerned about , everything!
If I was an Ottawa fan I would wonder why, once again, the coaches chose to keep their best running back, Davie Mason , out of an entire game. They did this at times last year too.His replacement Hammond, averaged less then 4 yards per carry on 22 carries. That will not cut it on a team that wants to be a Vanier contender. I do not think Mason is injured, so , is there another issue the coaches have with him?
The passing game looks fine, but the veteran front seven looked like they were admiring their press clippings and forgot to play. Gave up 23 points to a young team in the bottom half of the OUA. That is almost twice as many as this same crew gave up per game last season.

Tyler King said...

It's not exactly a missed field goal on Schiavone's part with 0:00 left in the game - Queen's called a timeout just before the snap on the first try, which he made but had called back, to ice him. Then another timeout to ice him again, and then the kick was blocked rather than missed. Exciting stuff, but not really Schiavone's fault.

And Mike Giffin can no longer be called a power back - he had some quickness and agility (he mentioned after the game he'd dropped about 20 pounds over the off-season) that rivalled even McAuley, whose stats were just bumped up by a single 70+ yard run.

What a win though - Giffin accounting for all 35 yards in the final overtime drive certainly closes the book on the Giffin/Gordon debate, eh Neate? :P

sager said...

Again, Danny B's numbers are a reason for staying "mellow," but it's Guelph last week and he did hum 4 TDs against its secondary last season.

To apply the point about Brannagan to the Ottawa-Guelph game Dunk's numbers (8-23, 107, 2 INT) were about the same as Brannagan's (10-26, 122) and Guelph had only 257 total yards. Those two big INT returns must have been a reason they scored that many points.

Guelph is supposed to be much improved this season.

Not sure what the deal was with Davie.... he dressed and didn't get a carry.

sager said...

Tyler: Small sample size! Small sample size!

Was it ever really a debate? The point was that both did well splitting the carries in '05 and their styles -- Giff's a straight-ahead guy (and 230 bills with giddyup is a power back) and Marty's the dodger -- give the defences two guys to prepare for.

What happened last night might have been a case of playing the hot hand and that's just good coaching... don't make it too complicated for yourself. Besides, the ball doesn't get any heavier for the running back as the game goes along.

Tyler King said...

I'm telling you man, the way he played last night, he is not a straight-ahead guy. Most of his big gains were off to the side where he'd shed three or four tackles with some nifty spin moves. The guy is an agility back now and it's incredible to watch.

Gordon got one carry and then was never seen from again. It's at least a bit baffling given the press was indicating it'd be a two-back system.

GoldenGuy said...

Better question: when was the last time Queen's defeated McGill, Western and Toronto in the same season?

sager said...

Hey, the Gaels still have to play U of T, anyth...

It was 1970.... last season of the old four although Queen's was also playing Mac and Waterloo in the regular season.