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Gaels end season with victory at Carleton

October 26, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

OTTAWA—Jesse Andrews wasn’t about to let this one get away.

The Queen’s Golden Gaels running back was determined that his graduating teammates would end their intercollegiate careers with a victory Saturday against the Carleton Ravens, so at a point in the game when he suspected some of his teammates may not be doing their utmost to achieve that end, he spoke up.

“We looked great at times and there were some series where we made some big errors,” he said, after the Gaels polished off the Ravens, 37-15, in what turned out to be the final game of the Ontario University Athletics football season for both teams.

“I really wanted to roll this out to all the fifth-years,” Andrews said. “There was one point in the third quarter where I went over and got the O line together and started reaming on them, telling them to get back on their horses.

“The next thing you know, the next two series we go out and score two more touchdowns.”

As someone in the midst of a career-best rushing day, Andrews was speaking with some credibility.

In playing what coach Pat Sheahan called “just a terrific game,” the third-year engineering student from Arnprior finished the day with 221 yards rushing, the 11th-best rushing game in the recorded history of Queen’s football, the best one since Ryan Granberg ran for 240 yards against Waterloo, Oct. 15, 2011.

As someone fully aware of the role his linemen were playing in his success, it was easy for Andrews to recognize when they needed a little nudge.

“They came out firing (at the start of the game),” he said. “The first four plays, we ran almost the same play and we had 45 yards on the ground. They went through that phase through the third quarter where they started slowing down, but we were all exhausted.

“We found a groove again and after a little pep talk they got on their horses and it was like playing in the first quarter again. They were just firing.”

Statistically, it was the best game of Andrews’ career and his fourth 100-yard plus rushing game in a row. His previous best was 168 yards, at Waterloo last year, in a game where he played only about 20 minutes.

“It just felt good to get that solid win,” he said. “I wasn’t really playing for myself. In terms of my best game, I owe it to all five offensive linemen, I owe it to (quarterback Billy McPhee), and I owe it to the receivers.

“We looked at this as our championship game, and it’s always nice to win your last game of the season.”

The Gaels, eliminated from playoff contention after an 0-5 start, won their last three games of the season. Carleton, which finished 4-4 in just its second year back in the league, had to win Saturday to make the playoffs. Instead, the Ravens finished tied with Laurier and they were placed seventh for having been thrashed 53-3 by the Golden Hawks.

Even with such stakes at play, Carleton was rendered ineffective by a Queen’s defence that played its best game of the year. It was at its best in the second quarter, when the Ravens ran nine offensive plays, had no first downs, gained 28 net yards and lost two fumbles, both of which wound up in their end zone.

Such defensive efficiency was required, as the Queen’s offence took a while to get underway. The Gaels started drives at their own 43-yard line, their own 53 and the Carleton 43-, 52- and 42-yard lines but had just three points to show for the most advantageous field position they’ve enjoyed all year.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s defence had Carleton starting from its own 5-, 21-, 4-, 25-, 12- and 19-yard lines. Once in that time did the Ravens start at their own 35, and that was after a Queen’s field goal.

“You can’t win football games without field position,” Carleton coach Steve Sumarah said. “Your playbook becomes very small. After a while (a team) can take take advantage of it, and they did.”

The Queen’s defence in fact scored the Gaels’ first touchdown, when Derek Wiggan scooped a fumble near the Carleton 20-yard line and had no one between him and the end zone. “I felt like I’d been there before,” said Wiggan, who scored the only touchdown of his five-year career after having twice been denied in the previous three games.

He was similarly on his way to a score at McMaster when an inadvertent whistle, blown by an official who didn’t know the ball had become loose, killed the play. Then, against Toronto, he picked up a blocked punt at the 30-yard line and was tackled at the three.

The second Carleton fumble, which gave the Gaels the ball on the Ravens’ 44-yard line with 38 seconds left in the first half, ended in a touchdown four plays later when Curtis Carmichael made a splendid catch of a 15-yard McPhee pass as he fell to the ground in the end zone.

Then came perhaps the most critical play of the game, when Carleton’s Tunde Adeleke took the ensuing kickoff 96 yards. He was finally tackled at the two-yard line by Nick Dowd with no time left to run a play.

The Gaels then had a third quarter to rival Carleton’s second, with 16 total yards, three straight two-and-out series, an interception and a poor Carleton punt that the Ravens were able to recover at the Queen’s 23-yard line. Again, the Queen’s defence shone, as an interception in the end zone by Jason Shamatutu killed one Carleton drive, and the Ravens were held to just a field goal after the recovered punt.

It was at that point that the Gaels regained life, as they moved 75 yards in five plays for a touchdown (a 19-yard pass from McPhee to Alex Carroll) that gave them what appeared to be a comfortable 29-8 lead.

The Ravens, however, got another long return from Adeleke and a 43-yard touchdown pass from Jesse Mills to to Nathaniel Behar on the very next play to close the gap to 14 points and after Queen’s was two and out again, Carleton, marching from the Queen’s 53, was threatening, with first down at the Gaels’ 27-yard line. An incomplete pass and a short run left the Ravens third-and six, and then came the next two most important plays of the game: Zac Sauer stopped Mills for no gain to turn the ball over, and Andrews gained 18 yards on the next carry to get the Gaels out of a dangerous spot.

That play sparked a nine-play, 87-yard drive that ended with Justin Gleben’s one-yard touchdown run and killed three and a half minutes off the clock.

The icing on the Queen’s defence’s cake came in the closing seconds. Carleton recovered a poor snap on a Queen’s punt attempt on the one-yard line with seven seconds left on the clock. In two tries, however, the Ravens were denied the end zone.

“It typified the day, getting the goal-line stand,” Sheahan said.

Sumarah echoed the common sentiment, that the Gaels are not a typical 3-5 team.

“I’ve felt all year that they were much better than their record showed,” he said. “They played us very well. They did a good job of preparing for us and their execution was outstanding. They kept us on our heels, especially in the first half. We just couldn’t get anything moving.”

Still, there was a spark in the third quarter that roughly coincided with Mills entering the game in relief of starting quarterback Nick Gorgichuk.

“Our guys didn’t play well in the first two quarters and they felt that they could play better, so there was a bit of a spark there, but Queen’s made some plays when they needed to,” Sumarah said. “We kept missing that ever-elusive play, that play that would change momentum, and even when we had momentum, Queen’s would come back and make a play on us.”

Notebook—Queen’s Bands, barred from bringing instruments into the stadium by Carleton administrators, attended in full force with vuvuzelas in hand. They even had a vuvuzela technician on hand, with a bag full of spare parts. Band members got no grief on their way into the stadium, and a warm reception from Queen’s alumni and parents on hand, who comprised about 40 per cent of a crowed generously estimated by officials at 4,000. Before the game, Carleton event staff kept turning up their recorded music to try and drown out the annoying plastic horns, to little avail. … Dillon Wamsley completed the scoring for the Gaels, with first-half field goals of 27 and 33 yards. … It was the final game for fifth-year Gaels Marco Ciallella, Alex Carroll, Billy McPhee and Derek Wiggan. McPhee ended his university career with 8,305 yards passing, second-most in Queen’s history. “This was a very emotional game for Bill,” Sheahan said after the game. “He got out of sorts a little bit but then settled down and answered, so good for him. You want his last moment at Queen’s to be one that he remembers and I think he will.” … Carroll had his fourth straight 100-yard plus game and he left the field leading he nation with 875 yards receiving, second with 52 receptions to Acadia’s Brian Jones, who has 57. While their regular seasons are finished, teams in the Quebec and Canada West conferences have a week to go. … Andrews’ rushing game was the second-best in the OUA this year, after the 293-yard performance by Laurier’s Dillon Campbell against Toronto on opening day. … There are several Kingston-area players in the Carleton program—Napanee’s Joey Macdonald (Holy Cross), Bath’s Jason McGinn (Ernestown), Kingston’s Nolan McGreer (Frontenac)—but none of them dressed for Saturday’s game.

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