By CLAUDE SCILLEY
OTTAWA, Sept. 6—In the final six minutes of the first half of their game Sunday afternoon, the Queen’s Golden Gaels ran nine offensive plays, gained yards on two of them, took two penalties, allowed two sacks, shanked a punt, gave up a safety and threw an interception.
In the same six minutes, the Ottawa Gee-Gees scored 24 points.
Such was the essence of the football game, one that ended in a 41-17 Ontario University Athletics season-opening win for the home team, an outcome whose margin of victory ultimately just so happened to be 24 points.
For Queen’s, the loss left them 1-1 going into their next game, Saturday at home against Waterloo, a 57-0 loser down the road Sunday at Carleton. It also ended a four-game winning streak that had its genesis last season.
Ottawa’s outburst, with three touchdowns coming in the final three minutes of the first half, was reminiscent of the 21-point fourth-quarter uprising engineered by Ottawa quarterback Derek Wendel that produced a come-from-behind victory last season at Richardson Stadium.
This one was fashioned with precision and, Wendel said, some valuable input from his teammates.
“We have a bunch of guys who see stuff during the plays,” said Wendel, the former Kingston Grenadier who finished the game with 27 completions and 384 yards passing. “They know what coverage the defence is playing so they can adjust to that, and tell the coaches certain plays to run that might work. We did well with that in the second quarter.
“We were on fire. All the guys were on their toes, seeing everything, being able to make plays, catch the ball, run the ball—we did almost whatever we wanted in that span of five or six minutes.”
Ottawa coach Jamie Barresi said something slotback Mitchell Baines saw led to two of the touchdowns in that second-quarter flurry.
“I preach (giving us feedback) to our receiving corps and our quarterback, and put a lot of trust in them,” Barresi said. “Mitchell, for instance, said he could beat this kid, and he did. I’m glad that he gave me that information; we had trust in him and we went ahead and did it.”
Altogether, the Gee-Gees scored 34 points in a quarter that began with Queen’s leading 3-0. It was only the second time in the last 25 years that a Queen’s team has allowed that many points in a single quarter, and it’s the most since the Gaels allowed 43 points in the second quarter of a game at Laurier, Oct. 16, 2010.
“We got a little bogged down, we got a little frustrated and we had a few things go south,” said Queen’s coach Pat Sheahan. “We just had a little bit of an emotional letdown, when it went bang-bang-bang.
“I thought we legitimately had three really good chances to score in the first quarter and we came up with three (points) and usually when you make mistakes like that against decent teams, you’re going to pay for it in the end.”
To be sure, the Gaels did some good things in the early part of the ball game. An 87-yard Ottawa drive to open game game died when Luke Ball stuffed the hole where tailback Bryce Vieira was trying to gain first down on third-and-goal from the Queen’s four-yard line. Twice the Gaels kept a drive alive with a successful third-down conversion of their own.
The Gaels were, as Sheahan noted, unable to finish. A 93-yard return of a missed field goal by Nick Fraser-Green set the Gaels up on the Ottawa 27 late in the first quarter but Queen’s could get just a field goal from the opportunity. After that, a nice defensive stand and a poor Ottawa punt gave Queen’s the ball at the Gee-Gees’ 48-yard line, and on the first play Jesse Andrews burst up the middle for a 28-yard gain that became moot when he fumbled.
A splendid drive from their own 16-yard line collapsed in the second quarter with a fumble at the Ottawa 30.
The takeaways were part of a strong defensive performance Barresi credited with keeping his team in the game that, he said, “for the longest time, was in the balance.”
As much as the Gaels were not as sharp as they were in their season-opening victory over Carleton last week, the Gee-Gees executed well. Notably, Vieira, the sophomore theatre student from Vadureuil-Dorion, Que., made some splendid plays on a day that ended with him gaining 110 yards on the ground and catching five passes for 93 yards more.
“We had some players make some exceptional plays,” Barresi said. “Bryce got us out of a jam a couple of times, where he was dead to rights and guys missed him. I hope they’re not too critical of those kids’ tackling … Bryce has done this, week in and week out. He makes people miss. He’s kind of unique.”
Sheahan said the Gee-Gees appeared to be more ready to play than his team, “and the result was quite obvious.” He noted Ottawa’s bye last week gave the Gee-Gees more time than normal to prepare for the game, and since they hadn’t yet played themselves there was no videotape for the Gaels to dissect as part of their preparation. “My assumption is they’ve probably seen us play a couple of times live and they would have gotten the film to analyze from last week.”
If that’s so, it would appear the Gee-Gees did their homework well.
“I’d like to think we flattered them a little bit today because we didn’t play up to snuff,” Sheahan said, “but I don’t want to take anything away from their performance. I thought it was pretty good. Their kicker was good, their quarterback was good, the receivers caught the ball, their back is a very capable player … he’s a dangerous guy when he gets out there.
“They just played well and we were quite accommodating by not playing as well as we can.”
Notebook—The Gaels got their touchdowns late in the third quarter, when quarterback Nate Hobbs connected with Curtis Carmichael on a nine-yard pass; and midway through the fourth, when Hobbs scored on an eight-yard run on a broken play. Each score capped a 75-yard drive, the first taking five plays—during which Hobbs was 3-for-3—and the second one of eight plays with reserves Jonah Pataki, Eric Dodwell and rookie Chris Osei-Kusi in the backfield. "I told the guys … it could have been like that all day," Sheahan said. "We were just a bit off."… In three quarters, Jesse Andrews ran for 112 yards, the eighth 100-yard game in his 10 intercollegiate starts. … Besides his two TD passes to Baines, Wendel also passed to Tristan Bailey for a major score and he ran for one himself. Lewis Ward, the Bayridge Secondary School grad, kicked field goals of 46, 20 and 37 yards, missing from 38 and 30 yards. … Kingston football was well represented on the winning side Sunday. Besides Wendel and Ward, the Gee-Gees included Matt Amey (Napanee District Secondary School), who started at defensive tackle, Joel Ferland (Frontenac) who backed up on the defensive line, and former Sydenham High School star Ben Fisher, who caught five passes for 58 yards. … The Gaels played without slotback Doug Corby (bruised rib) and guard Emilio Frometta, whose injured left ankle will keep him out of the lineup for at least the next month, Sheahan said. Allen Champagne, the North Carolina transfer, has yet to play a game due to an undisclosed lingering injury. His presence on the defensive line is eagerly awaited, since the Gaels have yet to sack a quarterback in two games this year. Hobbs, meanwhile, was sacked five times Sunday. … Ottawa turned Queen’s three turnovers into two touchdowns and a field goal. … The Gaels actually denied Ottawa twice inside their own four-yard line, the second time coming in the third quarter, when Wendel failed to get over the pile from the one, on third and goal. … Notoriously a heavily penalized team, Ottawa was assessed just four fouls for 21 yards. Queen’s, typically one of the least penalized teams in the land, took 13 penalties for 110 yards. Four of those flags gave Ottawa a first down.