It was either travel down to Kingston for the Guelph-Queen's game on Monday and not be able to post until well into Tuesday (the parents' Internet access is only a rumour, thanks Rogers), or follow the game by radio and miss something. Taking the first option paid off, since that zany Guelph-Queen's game really needed to be seen in person to be appreciated in all its splendour.
How often will you see a 101-point game with one player, Queen's Jimmy Allin, accounting for 21 points with three return TDs?
No. 7 Queen's 52, Guelph 49 – Golden Gaels fans being Golden Gaels fans, the defence's lapses is bound to overshadow Dan Brannagan's 495-yard passing day and Allin channeling the 2007 version of Devin Hester. Seeing a player score three return TDs is once-in-a-lifetime for a fan.
It's not the end of the world for Queen's that it gave up almost half-a-hundred at home (and had just one takeaway, on a fumbled centre snap, no less). There is always the element of the unknown in first games, plus facing Justin Dunk is a little like facing a wishbone or triple-option offence back in the day. They're going to get some big plays and the defence can't stray too far from its principles, lest it screw them up beyond that game.
By the same token, Queen's is going to have to start getting pressure with only 4-5 pass rushers. Its defensive backs were left isolated and alone in single coverage quite often. It created a pick-your-poison situation since Guelph has so many good receivers: Speedmeister Jedd Gardner (154 yards on eight receptions), converted D-back Jamie Shaw (3-80), veteran David Harrison and Nick Fitzgibbon (who practically lined up more in the slot than the backfield) and the newbie, 6-foot-4 Cavin Bratton, had a great day.
Bratton made a terrific 42-yard catch on Guelph's game-tying 75-yard drive in the final two minutes. Allin had inside position and tipped the ball up, but Bratton managed to make the catch. Ironically, if Guelph had needed to 3-4 plays to cover that distance, it might have scored without leaving Queen's enough time to reply.
Another irony of the game's final minutes came on Queen's penultimate drive, where they settled for a field goal. The Gaels were first-and-10 at the Gryphons' 14 with two minutes left. Queen's coach Pat Sheahan called two passes, both of which fell incomplete, meaning they only used up about 10 seconds before they had to kick a field goal. It turned out they needed every last second which might have otherwise been used up by calling one or two running plays.
Some Guelph fans also first-guessed Guelph's Kyle Walters
From Queen's point of view, it can tighten up its defence. Guelph actually gained 100 less yards o Monday than it did in the teams' 2008 meeting, for what that is worth. Shomari Williams will be in uniform when it next faces a running quarterback, Ottawa with Brad Sinopoli, in Week 3. The defence is a concern, but it was a first game.
Meatime, Brannagan passed 50 times for 495 yards with only one sack and one interception and also authored a victory drive. He moved Queen's 50 yards in 36 seconds to set up Mike Petranovic's winning field goal, despite a holding penalty on the drive.
Devan Sheahan (154 yards on eight receptions, including a 56-yard pass-and-run TD where he turned the corner on a crossing route) looks much more self-assured. Blaise Morrison had a big game too. His second touchdown, a 48-yarder, was set up by him laying out for a 30-yard catch. That play probably got lost in the shuffle amid the 12 touchdowns and 1,100 yards the teams combined for, but it one among many plays that helped Queen's get the win.
Obviously, it was a bitter loss for Guelph. It came back from 18- and 21-point deficits (not 24, as the Guelph Mercury's game story stated) despite playing the final three quarters without its best defensive back, Jordan Duncan (apparent right ankle injury).
An overarching theme might be recruiting. Coach Kyle Walters had a telling quote in the Kingston Whig-Standard game story, but not that of the paper which was supposed to give a Guelph perspective. Discussing Allin's three TDs, Walters noted, "... to me it just looked like the best athlete on the field outrunning inferior athletes. From the sidelines, it looked like a high school game. You go see a high school game from time to time where you see the best kid on the field who at will does whatever the heck he wants."
It's an eyebrow-raiser when a coach uses the phrase "inferior athletes." Guelph has a good coach and will be fun to watch as long as Gardner is around. It needs to ramp up its recruiting to step up from the OUA's second tier.
McMaster 52, Waterloo 21 – The way the OUA is, the Marauders' one-sided win pretty much indicates who is going to be a playoff team. It also shows Waterloo is still very inexperienced.
Between the offensive line and the Jordan Kozina-Joey Nemet tailback platoon, it's like it's 2003 all over again at Mac, only they no longer have to play as Les Prince Field!
Fun fact: Waterloo's Brian Adams blocked a punt vs. McMaster for the second year in a row. This time, he even returned it for a touchdown. On the Waterloo side, one wonders how much field time Jon Roney will get at quarterback. One of the former QBs, Luke Balch, is now playing wideout and had a touchdown catch on Monday.
No. 6 Laurier 36, U of T 0 – The Golden Hawks probably did not have to go too deep into the playoff, with Mike Montoya rushing for 160 yards (9.4 per carry).
Laurier wideout Shamawd Chambers did not have a catch on the day. What's up with that?
Windsor 17, York 14 – Not to suggest it was a low-scoring game, but the teams combined had less yards in offence (365) than Queen's Allin accounted for with his returns (439). As Barney Stinson would say, true story.
York can hold it heads high, because what was probably the weakest team in the OUA this decade would have won if not for a pick-six new QB Patrick Hooey threw to Windsor fifth-year LB John Celestino with 10 minutes remaining. York's defence held Windsor and Sam Malian to one TD, despite their offence not providing much support.
Kamar Anglin (10 rushes for 69 yards) had the best output of the various candidates angling to become Windsor's feature back.
The Lions' two scores were both on a special teams. Anthony Tombler fell on a fumbled punt in the end zone and Jason Marshall took a punt coast-to-coast and then some. The timing wasn't good. The guy returns a punt 125 yards for a touchdown and thanks to Allin, didn't even get a sniff of being special teams player of the week.