Football fans will get early access to this week’s OUA Marquee Matchup, as the Waterloo Warriors (4-2) and Queen’s Gaels (1-4) are set to lace them up for a pre-Thanksgiving tilt on Thursday evening. Despite the difference in record, both teams will be poised to bring home the victory, with the Gaels looking to build off of their first win of the campaign and the Warriors looking to add to their already impressive bounce-back year.
The hometown Gaels got off to a tough start this season, losing their first two games by a combined six points. But after a pair of defeats at the hands of the province’s top two teams, Queen’s is back in the win column and looking for more. Much of the Gaels’ success is determined by their offense, which averages 431 yards per contest – including almost 300 YPG in the air. On the defensive side, the team is surrendering nearly 27 points per contest; however, which is something that will be put to the test against the upstart Warriors.
The Warriors meanwhile, after back-to-back winless seasons, find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt this season. Much of the team’s drastic turnaround is thanks to that aforementioned offensive attack. Led by their impressive quarterback tandem of Lucas McConnell and Tre Ford, the Warriors have provided teams with a steady push both in the air (274 YPG) and on the ground (216.8 YPG) en route to an average of 42 points per game and an OUA-leading 29 touchdowns.
Despite showcasing this offensive prowess last week, Waterloo is looking to bounce back from a nail-biting loss to the Guelph Gryphons. In what was the highest scoring OUA game of the season to date, the Warriors gave it everything they had against the Gryphs. Helping their cause was a sizzling start from the black and gold, who were led offensively by the OUA’s leading receiver, Tyler Ternowski. Ternowski, who is averaging 166 YPG this season, tallied an uncanny 247 yards in the air, powering the squad to a 29-12 halftime lead. Thanks in large part to Ternowski, the McConnell/Ford combo would total a combined 354 yards passing on the day for two touchdowns (to go along with another 107 yards on the ground and two rushing TDs).
The second half proved to be a different story on the other side of the ball; however, as the Gryphons’ halftime adjustments put them right back in the game. A determined second half comeback tied the game at 46 with less than three minutes to play before Waterloo added a field goal with just over one minute remaining. The valiant effort fell just short in the end; however, as Johnny Augustine tacked on a 22-yard touchdown run with 0:22 seconds left on the clock (his third TD of the game) to give Guelph the 53-49 victory.
On the other side of the ball will be a Queen’s team entering on a high note after securing their first win of the season – a 54-10 triumph over Windsor – and the 150th in the iconic career of Coach Pat Sheahan. Despite a slow start last weekend against the Lancers, the Gaels put their foot on the gas the rest of the way. After jumping out to a 16-3 lead at the half, Queen’s turned a solid drive, fumble recovery, and interception into another trio of scores to blow the gates wide open. An additional 10 points in the fourth quarter closed the book on a dominant team win that showcased just how dangerous the team can be.
Leading the charge offensively for the Gaels was QB Nate Hobbs, who tallied the 6th highest passing yard total in school history with 486 on the day. The veteran QB, who ranks second in the OUA in passing yards per game (278.6), also played a part in five touchdowns on the day, rushing for one and connecting on four through the air. On the receiving end of three of those majors was Chris Osei-Kusi, who also added 226 receiving yards on the day, while RB Jake Puskas notched his second straight 100+ yard rushing game in his second straight start.
This Marquee Matchup of the Week will take place at the home of the Gaels - Richardson Stadium – in Kingston, Ont. at 6:30pm. For anyone who is unable to make it to the game in person, tune in to OUA.tv to catch all of the high-octane action.