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Home > Articles > CIS Football > Western posts decisive 51-22 Yates Cup victory over Queen's

Western posts decisive 51-22 Yates Cup victory over Queen's

Posted: November 9th, 2013 @ 8:50pm


LONDON - When a good football team plays well, sometimes you just have to concede the inevitability of the outcome. If, at the same time, you don't play your best, the result can be the kind of crushing loss the Queen's Golden Gaels suffered in the Yates Cup game Saturday.

In almost no respect were the Gaels a match for the Western Mustangs, who pinned a 51-22 defeat on Queen's to capture decisively their league-leading 30th Ontario University Athletics championship.

"I know what our team is capable of and today I think we showed it," Mustangs quarterback Will Finch said. "We have a good football team. Queen's is a good football team. Nothing to take away from them but I think we came out and dominated today."

A crowd of 5,805 watched the undefeated Mustangs, the No. 1-ranked team in the land, win its 10th game in a row. In doing so, they scored 50 points or better for the eighth time this year - the second time against Queen's - and a stifling defence held the Gaels, 8-1 going into the game, to just 158 yards in the first three quarters, five points and no touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the vaunted Western offence scored a touchdown on five of six possessions in the middle part of the ball game, and kicked a field goal on the other. The Gaels, at times, appeared helpless to do anything about it.

"They're fully balanced; they've got good talent everywhere. To beat them you have to have a great day," Queen's coach Pat Sheahan said. "They're a great team and it wasn't our best game today. It really wasn't, and when you get in a championship game you have to play your best.

"Congratulations to them. They're the best team."

Queen's looked like they might do some business early in the ball game. Western marched smartly with the opening kickoff, 79 yards from its own 15, but the Queen's defence resisted and held the Mustangs to a field goal.

A Queen's punt pinned Western at its own one-yard line to start the next drive and the Mustangs conceded a safety. With a brisk wind at their backs, the Gaels could again do nothing, but Queen's then recovered a Western fumble at the Mustangs' 37-yard line. An open Doug Corby dropped a pass in the red zone, Queen's settled for a Dillon Wamsley field goal - for a 5-3 lead - and on Western's next possession, Mitchell Spataro blocked the punt.

Queen's had the ball again in Western territory, still with the wind, but an 11-yard sack followed and then McPhee threw an interception and that led, nine plays later, to Lirim Hajrullahu's go-ahead field goal.

Then the Western defence took over, allowing Queen's just 26 yards on its next three possessions and intercepting another McPhee pass. The Gaels last real gasp was a 57-yard drive in the final minute of the first half, which went for naught when Wamsley missed a 25-yard field goal.

After the troubles in the first quarter, the Mustangs played virtually error-free ball.

"We just didn't execute to the level that we had to," Sheahan said. "We had some opportunities to get ahead, couldn't do it, and it came back to haunt us when they had pretty good production when they had the wind (in the second and third quarters)."

McPhee threw touchdown passes to Justin Chapdelaine and Corby in the fourth quarter, when the lion's share of Queen's offence - 178 yards - was gained. Trailing 48-5 by then, however, it really mattered not a lick.

Western back Matt Uren, who had 128 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns - one on a spectacular, fully extended catch late in the first quarter - won the Dalt White Trophy as the game's most outstanding player. He said his team's defence has received less attention this year than it deserves, lost amid the pile of points the Mustangs typically dump on opponents.

"Our defence played phenomenal," Uren said. "They did a great job getting them off the field and getting the ball in the offence's hands so we could do our thing. (Queen's) really had no chance to build momentum.

"The offence couldn't do what we do without the defence playing so well."

Uren said the Mustangs were never concerned about weathering the first-quarter storm.

"You know in the game there's going to be those ups and downs," he said. "We just experienced an early down. We managed to work through it."

Finch agreed.

"If things go one way too fast, it can get out of hand the other way," he said, "(but) we didn't really think about it too much. We were just trying to execute plays."

Finch, who completed 20 of 27 pass attempts, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, also had praise for his defensive teammates.

"As a quarterback it's good to know that if you go two and out, the defence is there to take away the other team's momentum. It's good to have that in the back of your mind."

The Gaels, with just 94 yards rushing - their poorest performance of the season, and more than 100 yards less than they gained on the ground in the regular-season game at Western - appeared to have no Plan B.

"I thought we'd be able to get a little bit more ground production, set up some play action," Sheahan said. "We didn't get much inside run today."

McPhee, however, wasn't about to let responsibility for the offence's poor performance rest with anyone but himself.

"Mistakes on my part, especially, hurt us," he said. "You can't turn the ball over like that twice.

"From a passing standpoint it's always best when you can run the ball but at the same time, the mistakes we made in the passing game were by no means the result of (the Mustangs) just pinning their ears back. It was more poor reads, and we had some execution errors.

"As much as the offence is intertwined between running game and passing game, the problems we had offensively were not 100 per cent based on the running game, by any means."

McPhee said there was nothing new in Western's bag of defensive tricks that caused the Gaels particular grief.

"That's kind of the devastating part of it," he said. "They really didn't do anything different. They just have athletes and they managed to get after the passer and their linebackers are very active. They may have some of the most underrated linebackers in the country. They play outside themselves and that's what great teams do. They play beyond their ability in big games. We saw it twice this year.

"Kudos to them. They made plays when they had to and we didn't."

McPhee paid tribute to his graduating teammates. Tailback Ryan Granberg, offensive linemen Mike Sullivan, Josh Prinsen, Derek Morris and Matt Kendrick, defensive back Tijani Chase-Dunawa, Chapdelaine and defensive lineman John Miniaci all ended five-year careers at Queen's Saturday.

"It was a disappointing first half but I'm proud of how we battled," McPhee said. "There are some guys here who are never going to play again and it showed. They never quit. They fought for every inch."

Sheahan echoed the sentiment.

"It was an outstanding year," he said. "There were some great individual performances, some great growth on the team. I feel bad for the seniors. There's a pretty good group of kids who finished today but they will be more resilient (because of it).

"It was a terrific year. The wins over Guelph were very special and you know what? To finish a (regular) season 7-1 is not too shabby. Losing is always disappointing but you have to put things in perspective, too. Our kids came a long way."
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