TORONTO, ON – Western eliminated Queen’s in a rematch of the last year’s OUA Yates Cup beating them 47-20. The Mustangs punch their ticket to their eighth straight Yates Cup and maintain their dominance over the Gaels this century.
The first half was a tightly contested affair with Queen’s only trailing 19-17 heading into the break. Queen’s linebacker Josh McBain scored the game’s first touchdown intercepting Evan Hillock and taking it back 86 yards for the score. Western answered on the ensuing kickoff, Daniel Kubongo ran it back for a 97-yard touchdown. Just like that, an immediate momentum killer putting the Mustangs back on top.
Trailing 10-7, Queen’s picked up the next two scores. First, a field goal from Tyler Mullin and then a short touchdown run from Jared Chisari to take a 17-10 lead. The Mustangs took the lead back to end the half, with Hillock linking up with Seth Robertson on an 11-yard strike. Western picked up a safety towards the end of the half to give them the lead.
The second half is where things started to turn for the Gaels. The offense started the third quarter with three straight punts. Followed by back-to-back drives that ended in fumbles. Lourenz Bowers-Kane stripped Chisari and recovered the fumble in Gaels’ territory. On the next drive, it was Aiden O’Neill’s turn to cough up the ball. Queen’s weren’t done with the turnovers, Alex Vreeken threw an interception to mark three straight possessions with a turnover. This was Vreeken’s first game in five weeks, missing most of the season due to an injury. Western took advantage of the mistakes and extended their lead to 16 scoring seven points from those turnovers.
Late in the fourth, the Gaels’ tried to claw back only to commit another turnover. Vreeken’s pass went off the fingertips of Mustangs’ defensive back Richard Aduboffour and into the hands of Western Jackson Findlay for his second interception. Western needed one play after the turnover to crush any semblance of a late comeback, Ethan Dolby scored a 54-yard touchdown to extend their lead to 20.
Western relied on their stellar passing game in the OUA semi-final due to missing both Keon Edwards and Keanu Yazbeck. Evan Hillock completed 19 of his 30 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns. The Gaels defensive backs couldn’t contain the Mustangs’ receiving core. Both Seth Robertson and Savaughn Magnaye-Jones had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown.
The Mustangs defense was superb, forcing four turnovers. They made the returning Vreeken’s life miserable, breaking up ten passes and intercepting him twice. They shut down Queen’s excellent running game, recording four tackles-for-loss and holding them to only 95 yards on the ground.
Western will meet Laurier in the 2023 Yates Cup, a rematch of the 2016 and 2017 OUA championships. The teams split the matchups, Laurier winning the 2016 game 43-40 and Western winning the 2017 edition 75-32. The Golden Hawks and Mustangs met in the final week of the regular season, with Western fending off a late comeback to take the win.
Featured image credit: Western Mustangs Athletics