Mustangs and Gaels meet in 106th Yates Cup

Mustangs and Gaels meet in 106th Yates Cup
HAMILTON, Ont. - It seems whenever these two teams meet fireworks are required and with an OUA championship on the line, that’s a likely scenario on Saturday as the Queen’s Gaels meet the Western Mustangs at TD Stadium in London, Ont., for the 106th Yates Cup, presented by Pioneer Energy.
 
Oddly enough, the Yates Cup history between these two storied programs is very sparse. This year’s game will mark only the third time the two teams have battled in the OUA championship and so far the schools have traded victories.
 
The first meeting was back in 1979 when Western defeated Queen’s 32-14 in London - that game also doubled as a Vanier Cup semifinal.
 
And of course, the last time these two foes met in the Yates Cup was in 2009 when the Gaels, led by Danny Brannagan, outlasted a hobbled Michael Faulds and the Mustangs 43-39. That year Queen’s would go on to claim the schools fourth Vanier Cup title and four years later that Yates Cup game is still considered one of the best football games in CIS history.
 
This year Western dominated OUA play, putting up a perfect 8-0 record during the regular season and amassing an OUA record 458 points scored. The Mustangs average 57.2 points per game and are the top team in almost every meaningful statistical category in the CIS. After earning a bye during the OUA quarter-finals, Western dumped the McMaster Marauders 32-3 last Saturday to advance to its 37th Yates Cup appearance.
 
Sophomore quarterback Will Finch of Burlington, Ont. and kicker Lirim Hajrullahu of St. Catharines, Ont. have been the headline makers for the Mustangs this season. Finch set a new OUA standard for most passing yards in a campaign (3,047), while fifth-year Hajrullahu became the highest-scoring player in CIS history with 422 points.
 
Although the Western offence has gotten a lot of accolades this year, Queen’s has quietly gone about its business averaging 44.2 points per game and putting up 354 points. In fact, the Gaels rank second to only Western in every major offensive category across the entire CIS.
 
Queen’s finished their regular season with a 7-1 record and won their way to the Yates Cup by avenging last year’s OUA semifinal overtime loss to Guelph with a commanding 34-17 victory over the Gryphons last Saturday. This will be Queen’s 22nd appearance in the Yates Cup game.
 
The Gaels only blemish this season came at the hands of the Mustangs back on September 28 with Western toppling Queen’s 50-31. In that game, the Mustangs poured on 18 fourth quarter points to push the game out of reach for the Gaels who tried to mount a late comeback.
 
Queen’s quarterback Billy McPhee (Burlington, Ont.) tossed 332 yards in that game with one touchdown, while Western was led by their ground game with three different running backs punching in touchdowns and rushing for a combined total of 299 yards. Doing his part, Finch chipped in with 254 yards and two touchdowns.
 
Defensively, the Mustangs may have the edge over the Gaels. Western’s defence has given up only 18.5 points per game while averaging 387.6 yards per game - good for sixth and eighth best in the country, respectively. Queen’s on the other hand is very good at pressuring the quarterback having sacked OUA pivots 35 times which ranks second best in the country.

Both defences like to get involved offensively. The Gaels posted five defensive touchdowns to lead the nation while Western scored four times for second place.
 
Queen’s has the head-to-head series advantage holding a 45-41-2 record against the Mustangs. They have also have claimed the last five of seven meetings.

WESTERN REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Passing

Will Finch
191 completions, 274 attempts, 3047 yards, 21 touchdowns

Blake Huggins
14 completions, 23 attempts, 289 yards, 2 touchdowns

Rushing

Garret Sanvido
66 carries, 498 yards, 5 touchdowns

Yannick Harou
80 carries, 475 yards, 8 touchdowns

Receiving

George Johnson
60 catches, 982 yards, 5 touchdowns

Brian Marshall
34 catches, 753 yards, 9 touchdowns

Defence

Beau Landry
46 tackles, 36 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries

Pawel Kruba
38 tackles, 29 solo tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery

Sean Blake
28 tackles, 21 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception

QUEEN’S REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Passing

Billy McPhee
127 completions, 222 attempts, 2134 yards, 17 touchdowns

Ryan Mitchell
4 completions, 7 attempts, 42 yards

Rushing

Ryan Granberg
89 carries, 621 yards, 5 touchdowns

Jesse Andrews
55 carries, 473 yards, 5 touchdowns

Receiving

Giovanni Aprile
19 catches, 466 yards, 5 touchdowns

Scott Macdonnell
30 catches, 441 yards, 4 touchdowns

Defence

Justin Baronaitis
47 tackles, 41 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble

Sam Sabourin
34.5 tackles, 28 solo tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble

Sean Plumley
29 tackles, 23 solo tackles, 4 sacks

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