Here we go, the Battle of the 613, Ottawa at Queen's.
1:10 p.m., 7-0 Queen's: That first drive was way too easy for the Golden Gaels -- five plays, 72 yards, with Dan Brannagan going 4-for-4, including a 26-yarder to Devan Sheahan for the touchdown (coming right into Jeff Chan's viewfinder).
1:14 p.m.: Ottawa got the running game going a bit on the first drive with a nice, nearly Giffinesque run around right end by Kingston native Craig Bearss. Luigi DeLillis was wide right on a field-goal attempt after a second-down pass breakup inside the 5-yard line by David Rooney.
Josh Sacobie put the ball in the air twice on the first series, both deep corner routes. One was a pass-inteference call.
The new cornerback, Chayce Elliott, was out for the kickoff return for the Gee-Gees.
1:18 p.m. Ottawa holds Queen's to one first down before forcing a punt. Dan Village gets off one of his best kicks this year, a deep kick that goes out of bounds at the Gee-Gees 15.
1:22 p.m. We have our first two-and-out of the day -- Jimmy Allin defends the first-down pass over the middle, and Sacobie throws deep and incomplete on second.
1:27 p.m., Queen's leads 14-0: Brannagan has had no pressure at all thus far, and he's completed nine of 11 passes, including a five-yarder to Mark Surya for Queen's second touchdown. Both Queen's scorers, Sheahan and Surya, are in the end zone for the first time this season.
It's the 57th career scoring toss for Brannagan, topping Tom Denison's school record. At least he kept the record in the Hamilton region!
Ottawa's D-line, including Ian Hazlett, who made a nice play chasing down Mike Giffin from the back side, has done a good job against the run. Pat Sheahan dipped into his back pocket on the second drive, bringing in Jimmy Allin for an end-around that got some nice yardage.
1:31 p.m.: Major glove-tap to The Score's Sid Seixeiro (Tim Micallef is at Saint Mary's-Montreal) for describing the down and distance as "second and Oshawa" after Osie Ukwuoma sacked Sacobie on first down.
It's really tough to watch Ottawa's offence, although Bearss has been a bright spot ... and oh no, a bad long snap -- what is it about the north end of the field at Richardson Stadium? -- has given Queen's the short field, taking over inside the 20.
This is about as horrible a start as could be imagined for Ottawa.
1:38 p.m., Queen's leads 21-0: A one-yard wriggle into the end zone by Brannagan caps the short drive (three touchdowns, and none from Giffin or Valberg?). The highlight was a catch-and-run to Scott Stinson where it took about four Gee-Gees to wrestle him down.
This is probably the first time Queen's has had a 21-0 lead over Ottawa since, good gosh, 1992?
1:48 p.m.: OK, so it's not the north end curse. Ottawa has changed ends for the second quarter and had another punt snap go over Jason Peterson's head, this one resulting in Queen's taking over on the 10-yard line.
The Score just displayed the first-quarter stats. Ottawa was at zero yards passing with three first downs, two by penalty. This is bad.
1:50 p.m.: Ottawa got its first break of the day -- Brannagan forced a pass in a scramble situation and Trevor Schroer intercepted for Ottawa. Sacobie finally gets some time and an open receiver on the first play of the Gee-Gees possession, completing a first-down pass.
However, the Gee-Gees' inner Jekyll surfaces -- illegal procedure and intentional grounding calls bring up another punting situation. A big return from Jimmy Therrien sets up Queen's inside the Ottawa 20 for the third time this half.
2:00 p.m., Queen's leads 24-0 after a Village field goal: Ottawa's D-line can hold their heads up. They have got some pressure on Brannagan, and had some good tackles on Mike Giffin, including hits by Hazlett and Sebastien Tetrault.
2:04 p.m. Can we skip ahead a little in this game? Ottawa's defence has stiffened, but their Gaels counterparts are also holding down the fort, forcing another punt as we move under eight minutes to play in the first half.
Ottawa's punting game thus far has had two bad snaps and two no-yard penalties (one was picked up because Queen's got a big return). That's a reflection of the injuries.
2:10 p.m.: Queen's is playing a little close to the vest on offence, running the ball twice after a deep sideline strike to Valberg moved them into the red zone. Village ended up missing his field-goal wide left.
On the completion, Brannagan overtook, you guessed it, Tom Denison, for the school record in passing yardage. Denison accumulated his 7,500-plus yards in three seasons (and he didn't even begin his first year as the starter). Brannagan has had his critics, but at the end of the day, he's got a lot going for him.
2:15 p.m. Idle thought -- is the pro rule for pass interference better or is the collegiate rule of a standard 15-yard penalty preferable? Three have been three pass-inference penalties today, all on long strikes well over 30 yards. It says here it's far better to just have the 15-yarder -- make the offence earn the yards. Besides, pass interference is part acting, part happenstance anyway.
2:21 p.m., Queen's leads 31-0: It's no surprise to see the way Queen's has been moving the ball. Brannagan has thrown 18 times for 190 yards and three TDs. Blaise Morrison, another first-time touchdown scorer, just cashed in from 23 yards out on a post route. Once again, Ottawa had no safety in the middle to close the gap. James MacLean or Iain Fleming would still be running if they had some of those openings; they'd be getting on the 401 just about now.
This was what people talked about with the Queen's offence the outset of the 2007 season -- a run-pass balance, with Mike Giffin keeping Queen's in second-and-manageable situations and keeping defences honest. Queen's perhaps didn't have the receiving group to play that style in 2007 and ending up going to the Giff well, with great success. True, Giffin's numbers (11 rushes for 34 yards) haven't been great, but Canadian football is a passing game.
Point being, if people want to believe "stop Giffin and you stop Queen's," the Gaels will gladly take it.
HALFTIME: Queen's 31, Ottawa 0
This is a blood-letting. Ottawa stoned Queen's on goal-to-go from inside the two-yard line on the final play of the half after Pat Sheahan eschewed the chip-shot field goal. That's the second time Queen's has come away empty-handed in the red zone, otherwise the score might be much, much worse.
Ottawa has been completely ineffective. They have gained more yards through Queen's penalties (four for 55 yards) than through Sacobie's passing (4-of-14, 47 yards).
The Score's Glenn Schiller said, "Who would have saw this coming?" Our loyal commenter OttawaFan might have seen this coming. There's been a general sense of angst about the state of the Gee-Gees that is impossible to ignore, and today, injuries and inexperience have spread like grape juice spilled on a new rug.
That was a nice interview between D.J. Bennett and Mike Giffin that The Score aired at halftime. Bennett, the former Western tailback and the ex-Laurier receiver Andy Baechler have made a great contribution to The Score with their insights as recent ex-players. Credit the network for, gasp, taking a chance on someone under 35 years old, which is practically verboten in the Canadian media.
3:00 p.m. Ottawa did some nice things on the first series of the third quarter, but as it stands, used up more than five minutes without scoring, punting the ball away after David Rooney broke up a deep ball.
Rooney's had a nice afternoon on the deep pass routine -- they've thrown to the deep right twice against him, and both times it was no dice for Ottawa. If Queen's has a gold hardhat for the hardest worker, give it to him.
3:04 p.m., Queen's leads 31-2: There goes the shutout. A holding penalty and two completions forces Village to do the safety dance with 8:22 left in the third quarter. The game has kind of hit a technical stasis. Ottawa's defence, notwithstanding the 240 yards allowed through the air, has held up. Their offence is too dinged-up to get much sustain (hat tip: This Is Spinal Tap).
Valberg has 126 yards thus far on the day, which unofficially brings him to 866 on the season. That puts the Gaels in striking distance to join the 2000 McMaster Marauders as the only team to have had a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver. As noted earlier this week, Giffin and Valberg were high school teammates too.
3:11 p.m. This is the kind of day it's been for Ottawa: A holding penalty wipes out a big gain, which ultimately leads to another punt. Jimmy Allin gets a 30-yard-plus return, out to Queen's 45.
3:16 p.m., Queen's leads 38-2: Tell the children to leave the room. Brannagan ducks under the pass rush of Ottawa's Evan Prokipchuk and lofts a 52-yard scoring pass to Devan Sheahan, putting him past 300 yards through the air on the day. That's four TDs for Brannagan, to go along with one he ran in.
Check the comment Out of Left Field's foremost commenter for all things football (and life in general), Dennis Prouse left, "Ottawa was probably never going to win this game, but they surely could have given a better accounting for themselves than this."
Would that we would read that in either Ottawa daily.
3:24 p.m., end of third quarter; Queen's 38, Ottawa 2: The Gee-Gees have second-and-goal coming up to open the fourth quarter. They're still vainly putting up an air battle.
What was with trying to run outside after pass interference in the end zone gave the Gee-Gees first-and-goal at the 1? You have a 6-foot-4 quarterback who can either sneak it in or throw a jump ball (well, at least when he's got Ivan Birungi available to him) It's not going to cost Ottawa the game, but people would be right to wonder.
3:30 p.m., Queen's lead cut to 38-9: If I had $10 for every pass interference call today, I could own the Can-Am League team in Ottawa. There were two on Ottawa's touchdown drive, which ended with Felix Desjardins-Potvin scoring from a yard out.
3:33 p.m., Queen's lead cut to 38-16: Well, well. A turnover comes from nowhere -- Giffin bobbles a flare pass and the ball pops into Mike Cornell's hands for the interception. It takes Ottawa two plays to score -- Desjardins-Potvin bounces outside on the stretch play and scores.
There are 13 minutes left. Queen's let Western get back into the game at around the same stage of the match two weeks ago, and that ended as a 27-point Gaels win. There is no reason to panic. OK, maybe a little.
3:37 p.m. Queen's gets a healthy kick return, but Ottawa steps up gets the two-and-out, with Sebastian Tetrault getting a coverage sack.
Justin Wood-Roy is out for the rest of the afternoon, The Score just reported. That's seven receivers racked up for Ottawa.
3:40 p.m. There's an air of playing well enough to lose to this, but Ottawa is moving the ball again after Sacobie hits a deep corner route to Alex Fortier-Labonte, who is taken down hard by Alex DaPrato and requires the trainers' attention.
3:43: Hands up if you called the fake field goal attempt where Brad Sinopoli was knocked out of bounds short of the first-down marker. It's a 22-point game with 10 minutes left, so three points does Ottawa little to no good.
Thaine Carter ran Sinopoli out of bounds and Queen's takes over.
3:55: The Gaels get a couple time-consuming first downs before Village, who's had a fine day punting, angles a kick out of bounds inside the Gee-Gees 15.
Seixeiro just disclosed that during the prep work, Denis Piche asserted that he believes Queen's is better than Laval. "They're a more complete team, they make less mistakes and they're better," was how Seixeiro summarized the coach's comment.
Who knows what the slant or spin was. Queen's has had some mistakes today -- two blown red-zone scoring chances and now six pass interference calls.
It's down to 5:50 on the clock. This game cannot end fast enough for Queen's.
And just like the doctor ordered, Ukwuoma beats his man and sacks Sacobie to bring up a punting situation. Queen's can take the clock under three minutes -- does anyone mind if I leave for work?
It's at the 3-minute warning, Queen's is up three TDs and neither Jesse Lumsden nor Ryan Pyear is on the premises. It's a safe lead. Time to bounce, so as to only be to work a half-hour late.
That's all for now. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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