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McMaster at Queen's - OUA Semi-final 20091107
All photos are Copyright (c) Jeff Chan 2000-2009, 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.
Queen's 32, McMaster 6
Football topples Mac in semifinal; Win over rival McMaster Marauders sets Gaels a Yates Cup date with the Western Mustangs
By Jake Edmiston , Queen's Journal
Gaels’ running back Jimmy Therrien gets pulled down during Queen’s 36-6 OUA semifinal win over the McMaster Marauders on Saturday at Richardson Stadium. Therrien picked up 89 total rushing yards and a touchdown in the game. (Tyler Ball)
Gaels’ linebacker T.J. Leeper drops Marauder wide reciever Michael DiCroce to the ground. (Christine Blais)
Gaels’ running back Marty Gordon goes on a 50-yard run for what would have been the Gaels’ fourth touchdown of the game, but it was called back for holding. (Christine Blais)
Football head coach Pat Sheahan said there was an unusual vibe amongst the Gaels before Saturday’s OUA semifinal.
“There was a different feel to our team today,” he said. “What I sensed was that good kind of anxiety that no coach’s talk can produce.”
It was justified. The 32-6 win over the McMaster Marauders at Richardson Stadium means the Gaels’ will compete in their first Yates Cup since 2002, hosting it for the first time since 1979.
Defensive end Shomari Williams said the he was overwhelmed by the magnitude of Saturday’s game.
“Even yesterday I was so nervous I didn’t sleep,” he said. “It wasn’t because I was afraid of the opponent, it was because of what I knew this game meant to the school and to the University and to the community.”
Williams’s sleepless nights may continue. The Gaels’ Yates Cup opponent is the rival Western Mustangs, who the Gaels beat by a mere point on Oct. 17.
The blustery November weather brought some unconventional occurrences to Saturday’s game. Two passes were called dead balls after bouncing off the uprights, one of which caused a Gaels touchdown to be called back in the second quarter. Later in the same quarter, a tipped ball from Marauders quarterback Kyle Quinlan fell into the hands of Gaels defensive lineman John Miniaci.
Strong wind posed a problem for the Gaels. Quarterback Danny Brannagan only posted 161 yards. He averaged 367 yards per game during the regular season.
McMaster felt the wind’s conceded three safeties in the first quarter instead of punting into the wind from their defensive zone.
Sheahan said the game was decided by how well the teams handled their time against the wind.
“There were a few overthrows on both sides because the ball carries,” he said. “How well you manage yourself into the wind is going to have a significant bearing on the outcome of the game.”
The semifinal game was the second time this year running backs Jimmy Therrien and Marty Gordon were both healthy enough to play together. The two combined for 146 yards and each scored a touchdown.
Therrien, who suffered cramps in fourth quarters earlier in the season, said having an extra running back available made the running game a bigger threat.
“I’m still fresh—could play another game right now,” he said. “Obviously it’s amazing to have both of us healthy and good enough to run the ball and stay fresh. It’s a curveball for the other team too, because me and Marty see different things out there so we hit different holes with different timing.”
The Gaels kept the Marauders from scoring a touchdown for the second time in two games this year. The Gaels won their previous meeting 8-7 on Sept. 12.
Marauders head coach Stefan Ptaszek said the age difference between the two teams was apparent.
“[McMaster] is a team that had 12 first year guys out there,” he said. “It’s not laden with fourth and fifth-year kids like the team we played across the way. So the future is definitely bright and we wanted to take a shot at a team whose future is now.”
Queen's 32, McMaster 6
Globe & Mail
At Kingston, Ont., The No. 4 Queen's Gaels defeated the No. 9 McMaster Marauders by 32-6 Saturday to earn a berth in the 102nd Yates Cup.
Next week Queen's will host the Western Mustangs, who defeated the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks 26-16 in the other OUA semifinal on Saturday. The win earns Queen's its first Yates Cup appearance since 2002 when McMaster stopped the Gaels 33-19. Next week's game also marks the first time the Kingston has hosted the Yates Cup since 1978 — that year the Gaels were a perfect 10-0 and marched to one of its three Vanier Cup titles.
With the wind at their backs to start the game, the Gaels took full advantage, putting up 13 points on the Marauders. Six of those points came off of conceded safeties by McMaster after the Gaels defence pinned them deep in their end.
The defence also contributed to the Gaels first touchdown of the game as Matt Vickers picked off McMaster quarterback Kyle Quinlan at the McMaster 35-yard line midway through the opening quarter. Five plays later, Marty Gordon punched the ball in from one yard out.
The Gaels extended their lead to 20 when McMaster punter Michael DiCroce fumbled a snap and was forced to fall on the ball at his own 22-yard line. This time, the Gaels turned to running back Jimmy Therrien to get them across the goal-line.
Queen's defence would continue to come up big for the remainder of the half as they twice stopped McMaster from finding the end zone. Holding them to a single field goal at the end of the second quarter, Queen's took a 20-3 lead into the half.
Queen's put the game out of reach early in the third quarter when quarterback Danny Brannagan rolled out and ran the ball in for a one yard score, despite McMaster having 13 men on the field.
Offensively, the Gaels were led by the running back duo of Therrien and Gordon who combined for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Brannagan was 12-for-25 for 161 yards while Qulian was 12-of-36 for 185 yards.
Queen's Golden Gaels off to Yates Cup game - Gaels earn date with Western Mustangs after win over McMaster
By Mike Koreen, Kingston Whig Standard
By playing textbook defence and capitalizing on turnovers, the Queen's Golden Gaels finally ended their playoff drought. The Gaels, ousted in the opening playoff game at home the past two years, reversed their fortunes Saturday with a 32-6 win over the McMaster Marauders in an Ontario University Athletics semifinal at Richardson Stadium.
"We're in a much different place than we were a year ago, I'll tell you that right now," said Gaels defensive end Osie Ukwuoma, recalling last year's stunning semifinal loss against the Ottawa Gee-Gees after an 8-0 season. "We feel we put in some hard work this year and learned from our mistakes last year."
Snapping a three-game playoff losing streak, the Gaels advance to the OUA Yates Cup final for the first time since 2002 Nov. 14 at Richardson Stadium. They'll face the Western Mustangs in a traditional Old Four contest. Western beat the host Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks 26-16 in the other semifinal late Saturday afternoon.
It's the first conference final in Kingston since the 1997 Dunsmore Cup when the Gaels played in the now-defunct Ontario-Quebec conference. The last Yates Cup game in Kingston was in 1978. Queen's hasn't won a conference title since 1992 when it also won the Vanier Cup.
The Gaels offence took advantage of short fields created by their defence, which forced eight Mac turnovers. All three Gaels touchdowns came on drives immediately after Mac giveaways.
The Marauders failed to score a touchdown in two games against Queen's this year. Mac star running backs Joseph Nemet and Jordan Kozina were held to a combined 80 yards Saturday. McMaster coach Stefan Ptaszek called the Queen's defence one of the best units in the country. "Other teams in our conference to shut down our run game blitz and take chances," he said. "Queen's is able to slow our run game down just sitting there and playing their base stuff. They're not getting out of position to do what they need to do."
Running backs Marty Gordon and Jimmy Therrien and quarterback Danny Brannagan all scored touchdowns on one-yard rushes. For the first time this year, Therrien and Gordon both were healthy at the end of the game and the depth paid off. The pair combined for 155 yards on the ground. "It's amazing (playing with Gordon)," Therrien said.
"I'm still fresh, I could play another game right now. It's probably the first time I could say that all year. It's amazing to have both of us good enough to run the ball. It's a curveball for the other team, too. Me and Marty see different things out there, hit different holes and have different timing."
Brannagan wasn't as sharp as usual, throwing for just 161 yards, but he didn't make big mistakes like McMaster counterpart Kyle Quinlan, who was picked off three times in blustery conditions. "That was playoff defence," Gaels coach Pat Sheahan said. "They were stingy."
YATES BOUND! Queen's defeats McMaster 32-6
By Michael Grobe, Queen's Sports Information
Playing like they were on a mission, the No. 4 Queen’s Gaels defeated the No. 9 McMaster Marauders by the score of 32-6 to earn a berth in the 102nd Yates Cup.
Queen’s will host the winner of the other semifinal game between the No. 5 Western Mustangs and the No. 7 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (Live on theScore @ 4:30pm EST). Tickets for the Yates Cup are on sale now by calling 613-533-2500.
The win earns the Queen’s its first Yates Cup appearance since 2002 when McMaster topped Queen’s 33-19. Next week’s game also marks the first time the Kingston has hosted the Yates Cup since 1978 – that year the Gaels were 10-0 and marched to one of its three Vanier Cup titles.
A BRAND NEW SEASON
By Mike Koreen, Kingston Whig Standard
The McMaster Marauders vanquished their ghosts of playoffs past last week. Today, the Queen's Golden Gaels will attempt to do the same thing.
The Marauders, who won their first playoff game in four tries under fourth-year coach Stefan Ptaszek last week in Ottawa against the Gee-Gees, will try to keep rolling on the road against the Gaels in an Ontario University Athletics semifinal at Richardson Stadium.
The Gaels have lost their past three playoff games and are coming off a loss in their season finale against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, snapping a 17-game regular season winning streak.
What's happened in recent weeks and years, however, will not be front and centre for the participants after the opening kickoff today. The game tape of the Gaels' 8-7 win over the visiting Marauders in the second week of the regular season might as well be tossed in the garbage. Mac was using Ryan Fantham at quarterback that day. Since then, they have switched to the faster Kyle Quinlan, who has led the Marauders to the semifinals for the first time since 2005. Queen's had to employ backup quarterbacks Justin Chapdelaine and Tom Howes against Mac after Danny Brannagan suffered a concussion in the first half.
"I sort of think what happened last time may not really have anything to do with what happens (today)," Gaels coach Pat Sheahan said. "I'm not really sure what you can take from it in terms of carryover. It was a very unique situation, certainly from our perspective. "They're not starting the same quarterback who played in that game, either. It's probably a whole new ball-game, pardon the pun."
While the one week off for the top two regular season finishers in the OUA seems like it is an advantage, it hasn't helped first-place outfits in the past two years. The Gaels, in 2008, and the Gee-Gees, in 2007, both lost their playoff openers after going undefeated in the regular season.
Still, the Gaels view the break as a good thing. "We got some good work done," Sheahan said. "Some guys needed some recuperation and the rest of our energy was spent on making us better. It gave us time to reflect and trey a few new ideas. "We're a better team because of the layoff."
They also should be a better team with running backs Marty Gordon and Jimmy Therrien expected in the lineup. The two have missed a combined eight games this year, with both out two weeks ago for the Laurier game. They have played just one half of football together this season after the Gaels made it known that they wanted to feature both backs this season. "It'll be good," Gordon said. "That was the plan all year. We finally get to do it (today)." The men in front of the two rushers are excited about a double- trouble scenario. "It's going to be great," guard Vince DeCivita said. "They are two different styles of running backs. We'll be able to use them for different kinds of plays. I'm looking forward to blocking for them."
The Gaels also will have their hands full against the Mac rushing attack, another two-back system with Joseph Nemet and Jordan Kozina. Mac rushed for more than 200 yards against Ottawa last week. Run defence, however, is a strength of the Gaels, who were tops in that category in the OUA this year.
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History lesson: The Gaels, with a win, would play host to the Yates Cup game for the first time since 1978. Queen's did not play for the Yates Cup from 1980 through 2000 when it was part of the Ontario- Quebec conference.
YATES CUP BERTH ON THE LINE ON UNIVERSITY RUSH
Ontario University Athletics (OUA) football returns to The Score Television Network this Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. ET as the No. 9 nationally-ranked McMaster Marauders (7-2) travel east to take on the No. 4-ranked Queen’s Gaels (7-1) at Richardson Stadium in Kingston, Ont.
In the first of two University Rush semifinal match-ups this weekend, the Marauders will look to overturn the Gaels for a spot in the 2009 Yates Cup presented by Pioneer Petroleums on Saturday, Nov. 14. To get to that goal, McMaster will have to play Lumsden-era football, leaving much of the pressure on the shoulders of running backs Jordan Kozina (Brantford, Ont.) and Joseph Nemet (Burlington, Ont.), not to mention quarterback Kyle Quinlan (South Woodslee, Ont.).
“With our young quarterback, the run game takes a lot of pressure off him and allows him to ease into playoff football,” said McMaster head coach Stefan Ptaszek. “If we can establish some run and work play action and keep Quinlan’s reads very simple and straight forward, we’re going to be okay. The run game is critical.” Coming into this post-season game, the Marauders are riding a five-game win streak, including a 42-35 victory over the No. 5 Western Mustangs in Week 5.
In their quarter-final win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Oct. 31, Nemet scored two touchdowns, rushing for 123 yards on 19 attempts. In that same game, Kozina tallied 114 receiving yards and sealed the win for the Marauders with a 65-yard touchdown reception with five minutes to go in the game. Quinlan was dependant on his running game in his first ever playoff start, as he threw for just 180 yards at Ottawa, but passed for two touchdowns with no interceptions.
“Zero picks and no fumbles from him are big. He was about as efficient as you can be,” praised Ptaszek. “You can’t get much more production out of him. We need him to take another step forward this week. He has a very unique and tough challenge ahead of him because this is a championship-level defence we’re talking about.”
One of those passing touchdowns against Ottawa came courtesy of third-year receiver Matthew Peressini (Hannon, Ont.), who led the team in receiving yards with 411 on 31 catches and four touchdowns during the regular season, making him a favourite target for Quinlan. Another likely recipient of Quinlan’s passes is Kevin D’Hollander (London, Ont.). While making only 22 catches in the regular season, the fourth-year wide receiver trailed Peressini by just 14 yards but led the team in receiving touchdowns with five, proving that he’s capable of making big catches.
But without a good defence, all those offensive strengths mean nothing. Luckily, McMaster has some strong men on their D-line, starting with Ryan Chmielewski (St. Catharines, Ont.). The linebacker made a team-high 44 solo tackles and three sacks in the regular season and picked off one pass in the quarter-final game against Ottawa for 17 yards. Pair Chmielewski with Cody Lynch (Stoney Creek, Ont.) and you’ve got a couple of solid defenders. In the regular season, Lynch made 18 solo tackles and led the Marauders in interceptions with three. Against Ottawa, the rookie defensive back made six solo tackles and broke up four passes.
“On the defensive side, we were a very, very young secondary,” Ptaszek said of the Marauders regular season match against Queen’s, “and now they have nine OUA weeks under their belt.” “They’re going to need them because Danny Brannagan and that pass game are special.”
In their regular season meeting back on Sept. 12, the Gaels edged the Marauders 8-7 in a defensive struggle. “Offensively, we struggled tremendously,” said Ptaszek. “It was a great game plan for Queen’s and they shut us down for four full quarters. The big difference offensively is Quinlan has emerged as our starter. It’s going to be a tough battle; [Queen’s has] a great defence.”
“In an 8-7 game, I think both teams have to just accept the fact that their defence was good enough to win,” added Queen’s coach Pat Sheahan. “We stepped in a landmine where we lost a starting quarterback. It was a game that was dominated by defence; ours was one point better on the day.” Danny Brannagan (Burlington, Ont.) left the game half-way into the second quarter, leaving the passing duties to rookies Justin Chapdelaine (Abbotsford, B.C.) and Thomas Howes (Parham, Ont.), who failed to fill the void left by the Gaels star quarterback.
This time around, says Sheahan, it’s going to be a very different game, especially having Brannagan in the line-up. “We’re very cognisant of the fact that that game could have gone either way, so we’ve become much more consistent on offence,” explained Sheahan. “We’re a little bit more balance and obviously our passing game is still highly productive. The quarterback, when he’s in the groove, is very efficient.”
So, technically, the Marauders haven’t seen Brannagan at full capacity and they could be in for a rude awakening when he steps onto the field, despite dropping their final regular season game to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks on Oct. 24.
“In some ways, losing a football game at the end of the season can be a bit of a wake-up call,” said Sheahan. “It’s not your reputation that wins football games, it’s your effort and your skill and your level of preparation, both mentally and physically. [Losing to Laurier] was a good thing to happen to us at that time of the season.”
Brannagan held the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and OUA career passing yards record this year, if only for a brief moment before Western’s Michael Faulds out-did him. At any rate, his 174 completions, 2,580 yards and 15 touchdowns make him the dominant quarterback in the OUA.
One of Brannagan’s favourite places to fire the ball is right into the hands of Scott Valberg (Kingston, Ont.). The fifth-year receiver connected with Brannagan on 55 passes in the regular season for 913 yards and four touchdowns, and will likely be a scoring threat against McMaster on Saturday.
The Gaels run game is led by Queen’s running back Jimmy Therrien (Montreal), who carried the ball 99 times during the regular season for 508 yards and one touchdown. “Teams that win can run the ball. That’s the bottom line,” said Sheahan. “Where we came up short at this time of year [last year] was their inability to run the football. We’re better on the offensive line now, we’ve got some quality backs.”
Queen’s has some players that have a knack for taking away the ball. David Rooney (Kingston, Ont.) made three interceptions in the regular season, while Jimmy Allin (Belleville, Ont.) came away with a team-high of five.
But sometimes, it’s special teams that can make or break a game, and this game should be no different. On returns, it’s Allin who makes the grade, returning 42 regular season punts for 592 yards, the longest being 78 yards. It’s the same story on kick returns, where Allin’s longest return was 105 yards for a TD, one of 20 returns the fifth-year DB made for 490 yards.
This year, the Gaels are a Yates Cup favourite, having only lost one regular season game and none at home. With Brannagan ready to show the Marauders what it’s like to face the post-season version of himself, it could be the biggest playoff challenge the underdog Marauders have faced in a long time. “We have to assume [McMaster] is going to adjust and play their game and we’ve got to go play ours,” said Sheahan.
Play-by-play announcer Tim Micallef along with former McMaster Marauder and CFL star Mike Morreale will bring you all the action on The Score beginning at 1 p.m. The game will also be webcast via SSNCanada.ca, and heard on CHML AM 900 and CFMU 93.3 FM in Hamilton, Ont. and CFRC 101.9 FM in Kingston, Ont.
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.