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Sports Photos by Jeff Chan, eh?
Ottawa at Queen's 20081101
The Gee Gees come off a 42-37 quarter-final win over the Guelph Gryphons that featured a 300+ rushing performance by Ottawa's Davie Mason which was needed to compensate for all the turnovers committed by the Gee Gees. In the regular season, the Golden Gaels triumphed 38-16, but against a team missing many of its key performers including Mason and any number of wide receivers that have started for the Gee Gees over the season. With the wounded now returning to the lineup, the Gaels will be facing a different team, one better than their 5-4 record to date would indicate.
Keys will be the Gaels winning the takeaway battle, controlling Mason at the line of scrimmage, keeping pressure on QB Josh Sacobie, maintaining a balanced attack with the return of Mike Giffin from his bruised knee, and the effectiveness of Danny Brannagan's passing attack to his crew of receivers, especially against the young Ottawa secondary, and the continued good play by the special teams, especially on punt and kick returns.
QUEEN’S 13, OTTAWA 23
In a stunning upset, the Ottawa Gee Gees defeated the #2 ranked Queen’s Golden Gaels 23-13 on the Gaels' home turf, at least we think it was home turf as the new Q logo was nowhere to be seen [okay that was a little shout out to Father Raymond de Souza].
So how did that happen? Let’s look at the 6 keys to the game described above.
Key #1: The takeaway battle was even until the fourth quarter when first Danny Brannagan fumbled on a sack and the Gee Gees recovered, and then Jimmy Allin uncharacteristically fumbled on a punt return which set up an Ottawa field goal that increased the margin to at least a two scores. Earlier a Jimmy Allin pass on a fake field goal was picked off in the end zone. Score this 3-0 in favour of Ottawa.
Key #2: Davie Mason was held to 95 yards on 17 carries – but that was in just one half of work, and his 2 touchdowns were enough to snuff out the Queen’s hopes for victory. His replacement, Greg Bearss carried for 85 yards. So although well short of his yardage from Ottawa’s win over Guelph, Queen’s did not have an answer for the combined running of Mason and Bearss. Ottawa’s 195 net rushing yards outdid the Gaels’ 117 yards.
Key #3: Josh Sacobie was good on 11 of 22 passes for 177 yards and no TD passes, but managed a balanced game that totalled 341 net yards. Based on his career numbers, and average yards per game, the Queen’s D did hold Sacobie in check.
Key #4: Mike Giffin did not return to action from his knee injury. Although Marty Gordon had a good day, running for 83 yards on 14 carries and catching two passes for an additional 30, and Jimmy Therrien had 30 yards on 6 carries, their contributions were not at the level of their combined efforts against Waterloo, no were they at the level that Giffin contributed on an average day. Giffin’s absence also had intangible effects on the Gaels offense including a level of confidence that he could break long gainers at any time, and that the opposing defense would have to focus extra attention on him thereby freeing up the passing attack. Also on the injury front, MLB Thaine Carter went out early in the game with an apparent knee injury and did not return. TJ Leeper moved to the middle and also had a sack, but the loss of Carter affected the Gaels' run defense.
Key #5: Danny Brannagan had a rough day passing for only 11 of 33 attempts and one touchdown. Often under pressure from the Ottawa D-line including former Gael Ian Hazlett who was back from injury, the passing attack was plagued by a variety of ills – missed balls, inopportune penalties, over throws and a couple of sacks. Although the ball was spread around to 7 receivers, they only accounted for those 11 receptions and 177 yards, far from the Gaels’ season average. The one highlight was the 51-yard TD pass from Brannagan to Devan Sheahan in the first quarter. BUT, that was the only offensive scoring for the whole game – this from the team that scored the most points in the CIS all season.
Key #6: Special teams, a strength of the Gaels all season, were not on this day. As mentioned above, after a spectacular year, Jimmy Allin’s most lasting memory may be the fumbled punt return that snuffed out the Gaels’ comeback bid. Allin did have a 21-yard on 3 kick returns, but he and Therrien were unable to cut loose on any punt returns, averaging under 8 yards on 6 returns. In a gusty day, kicking and punting for both teams was a perilous activity. Dan Village won the punting battle averaging 42 yards versus Ottawa’s 29 yards. However, he left 6 points on the table kicking only one of three field goal attempts while his Ottawa counterpart was good on 3 of 3.
Other: The Ottawa O-Line had a good day while the usually active Queen's D-Line were shut off the sack list. As promised, the return of the Ottawa wounded had an impact and certainly made a difference from the Thanksgiving Day Q@ueen's victory over the Gee Gees. With more playing time together, Sacobie and his receivers should be even more effective going forward, although they'll meet a strong Western defense. Ottawa will need Davie Mason, and also Sacobie who seemed to sustain minor shoulder and ankle injuries, at full strength in the Yates Cup game to move on to the Mitchell Bowl.
Less than 24 hours after the Gaels season-ending loss, it’s hard to focus on anything but the team’s shortcomings in the OUA semi-final. But taking the longer view, it’s impossible to ignore the achievements of this team in 2008. Offense, defense and special teams all had great years, and the combination served up a much stronger team spirit than evident in prior years. Upcoming OUA and CIS recognition will not take all the sting out of this loss, but will be an appropriate reward for this total team effort and accomplishment.
To the Queen’s Golden Gaels Football team – players, coaches, training and equipment staff, medical staff, THANKS for a great season. It was a lot of fun digitally capturing your efforts this season!
All photos are Copyright (c) Jeff Chan 2008, but may be used for personal non-commercial use, and by Queen's University, the CIS and its member conferences, and by the Vanier Cup, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan. All other rights are reserved.
All photos on this site are Copyright © Jeff Chan, except as noted, and may be used for personal non-commercial applications, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan. All other rights, including for all corporate and media use, are strictly reserved, and any use of these photographs without the author’s express written consent is prohibited.