Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Canadian University Football 2013

Canadian University Football -2013

There are times when I should keep my big mouth shut.


One of those occasions was last weekend at the football game between Queen’s and Laurier. It was a crazy game, full of errors by both teams. Very catchable balls were dropped, fumbles took place for no good reason, runners scored touchdowns at the least expected times. Coach Pat Sheahan from Queen’s described the game as “ugly, filled with plenty of missed opportunities.”


Here’s the situation: Laurier was not expected to stay with Queen’s the entire game. They had given Western a scare, and Western outscored Queen’s 50-31 last week. Nonetheless, it was supposed to be a relatively easy win for Queen’s, and it started that way, in the first half.


By the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Golden Gaels were in trouble, down 27-16. They mustered some offence, and closed the gap. With little more than a minute remaining in the game, they went ahead 34-27. Laurier had the wind at their backs, a factor throughout the game. Following a poor kickoff which went out of bounds, the Laurier Golden Hawks marched down the field, and tied the game with seconds remaining.


In overtime, each team scrimmages the ball on the 35 yard line, and is given the opportunity to score any way possible: touchdowns, field goals, single points (rouges). One team takes a crack at it, then the other. Laurier started but failed to score.


Queen’s put together a couple of first downs, and huddled inside the ten yard line. The quarterback, Billy McFee, moved the ball in front of the uprights and took a knee. Coach Sheahan decided to try the field goal on second down, “just in case the snap was bobbled”. It was at that time that I exclaimed, “They could block that, you know”.


                                              Joanne, with her golfing pal Donna Purcell

The fans closest to me, including my wife, threatened to tar and feather me, but with more forceful language. Sure enough, the field goal attempt was blocked. From our vantage point, we could not figure out what happened next. Following serious detective work, I have pieced together the other pieces of the play.


                                            James, Holly Molaski-our niece, and Joanne

The place holder, # 5 Aaron Gazendam, had the presence of mind to grab the blocked kick and punt it into the end zone. The Laurier players waited while the ball squirmed on the ground, hoping that the Queen’s players would encroach, inside the five yard restraining area. In the meantime, Gazendam snuck around the befuddled players, and pounced on the ball. His right. His touchdown. Game over.


                                   Queen's University Defensive Coordinator Pat Tracey
Coach Sheahan told the Gaels after the game, “It took every last play to win this game. I gave credit to Coach Pat Tracey for the final play. So there is a Belleville connection to this”. Tracey learned the game on the fields in Belleville as a student at Centennial Secondary School. He went on to win the Vanier Cup with Guelph University, and coached special teams in Hamilton for the Tiger Cats. “Pat is the architect of the kickout play, and he has practised it every Friday. But I have to be honest with you. We hadn’t exactly practised it that way!” No kidding!


                                                       Student support for the Alumni

As side note, it was the 45th Reunion Year for my Arts and Science classmates of 1968, and we were afforded the opportunity of walking on the track around the stadium at half time. There is always a wonderful reception from the student section. Our niece joined us for a photo opportunity. Thumping of leather jackets. A sea of purple. Plenty of smiles and chuckles.


                                 Ron Bannerman, in his leathers, just ahead of Peter Milliken.

Jonah Pataki hails from Wallaceburg, Ontario, and is in his first year at Queen’s. He played for Team Ontario, and visited the campus at Queen’s a year before deciding to become a Golden Gael. “A perfect fit,” he told me after the game. “This is an exciting win. Never before have I seen anything like this. You see a blocked field goal, and you expect the worst.” He shared the moment with his mother after the game.


                                             Jonah Pataki #35, with his Mother. I assume.

Queen’s now has a record of 5 wins, one loss, and remains in third place behind Western. Laurier has one win this season. But this is Canadian university football, and as I have indicated, anything can and will  happen!

                                                    All the latest fashions, as well!


James Hurst


October 7, 2013-10-07


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