Golden Gaels Photos
Queen's Golden Gaellery by Jeff Chan
QJFL - 2007 Manson Cup 20071110
RIDERS REFUSE TO GIVE AN INCH - TEAM WINS TITLE AFTER SOONERS FAIL TO CONVERT ON THIRD AND ONE INCH
Really, yesterday's Quebec Junior Football League final came down to one play: third and an inch with less than two minutes to go. The Ottawa Sooners failed to gain a first down on the play, so the Ottawa Jr. Riders took over on downs, and soon after Luigi DeLellis kicked a field goal to give his team a 29-27 victory at Minto Field and its second consecutive Manson Cup league title. "I was enjoying it already," DeLellis said, knowing the 13-yard field goal he was about to kick was little more than a formality. "I saw how close it was, and I knew it was going through. Winning two years in a row is an amazing feeling." It's not that DeLellis is overconfident, it's that he's good. The field goal was his fifth of the game. "We let our defence, our strength all year, make a big play for us," Riders coach Luigi Costanzo said. "Luigi, our MVP, kicked it through to win the game. Outstanding. I don't even have words for it. I'm so proud of these guys."
Sooners coach Mike McCarthy knew that failed third-down play had been the deciding factor. If his team had made the first down, it would have continued to control possession of the football and the clock. If McCarthy had ordered a punt from near the Sooners' goal line, the Riders would have received the ball back already well within DeLellis' range. "I knew it was in his range either way, so I just wanted to be in control of my own destiny with my offence," McCarthy said. "A little disappointed we couldn't get that first down. We have to be able to get that inch, and we weren't able to get it. We get the first down, we run out the clock and we win the game by one. Their defensive line came up and made a great play."
The Sooners did get the ball back with 46 seconds remaining, but Riders defensive back Steven Backer intercepted a Nathan Beeler pass with 33 seconds to play to seal the victory. It was one of four interceptions Beeler threw in the game. "It was amazing. I can't believe it happened," Backer said, grinning ear-to-ear. "I slipped, and when I got up, I was just in time to grab it. It was unbelievable. I just wanted to do it for the guys who were graduating this year and who won't get to play anymore. This was all for them."
The Sooners came out of the gates with guns a-blazin', taking a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Beeler threw touchdown passes of 35 and 38 yards to John Delahunt and Eli Aramouni, respectively. Timothy Lavoy also kicked his first of two field goals in the game. The Riders responded with 20 points in the second quarter on two DeLellis field goals, a 17-yard catch and run touchdown from Danny Dobson to Adam O'Donnell and a two-yard run by Daniel Cama. "(The Sooners) came out so well prepared and they have so many athletes and they put it to us from the first whistle to the end," Costanzo said. "Their coaching staff, I congratulate them. They were well prepared and they were a tough opponent."
After spending four years in the Ontario Football Conference, the Riders returned to the QJFL last year. Yesterday's victory gave them five Manson Cup titles in their past six seasons in the league. The Sooners have a 47-4 regular-season record over the past six seasons -- they finished 5-3 in 2005 and were undefeated from 2002 to '04 and in 2006 -- but they haven't won a league title since 2002. By Darren Desaulniers, Ottawa Citizen ï¿½
CHAMPS! JR. RIDERS WIN THRILLER, KICKER PUTS BOOT TO SOONERS
The bucket of cold water had already been dumped on their head coach when the Junior Riders turned to the guy they predicted would be the hero. A few of them hoisted him high. As a team, they chanted his name. Their celebration, like a ball that had just been touched by his toe, was officially in liftoff mode.
"They've been telling me since before the game started I was going to win it," said Luigi DeLellis. "I guess they were just following up." DeLellis kicked five field goals, the last from 13 yards out with 46 seconds left, in helping the Junior Riders to a 29-27 victory over the Sooners in the Quebec Junior Football League championship game yesterday.
The victory, in front of full stands at Minto Field, was the second straight Manson Cup win for the Riders. They have now won the title trophy five times over the last six years they've been in the league.
DeLellis, the QJFL leading scorer, was approached by a Queen's University recruiter (way to go Steve!) right after the game. The lineup to land him is forming to the right. A former soccer player who only started playing football two years ago, DeLellis has now booted eight field goals in two championship games. Before winding up in the spotlight yesterday, he was positioned squarely in the Sooners' kitchen.
Holding a one-point lead with 1:22 on the clock, the Sooners were faced with a third-and-real-short situation on their own 15. They gambled and lost. "From the 45 or the 25, it didn't matter," said Sooners coach Mike McCarthy. "He's an excellent field goal kicker. We knew we were in his range either way. We've got to be able to get that inch, and we didn't get it." The Sooners still had time to get in scoring position. But with 32 seconds left, QB Nathan Beeler was picked off for the fourth time, this time by Steve Backer on the Junior Riders' 47. "I can't believe it happened," said Backer. "I slipped, and when I got up, I was just in time to grab it. I just wanted to do it for the graduating players this year. It's amazing." The Sooners and Junior Riders cruised through the regular season with 7-1 records, each team suffering its lone defeat at the hands of the other. The Sooners, who won their only other Manson Cup meeting in 1997, looked like they were going to repeat by the way they started. Beeler worked with precision, throwing a 35 yard touchdown pass to John Delahunt and a 38- yard scoring strike to Eli Aramouni as the Sooners jumped into a 17-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
But the tide would turn the other way in Quarter 2. After recovering a fumbled punt on the Sooners 25, the Junior Riders hit the scoreboard with a 17-yard TD pass from Danny Dobson to Adam O'Donnell. Even when DeLellis missed a 26-yard field goal, good fortune found the Junior Riders. A Sooners penalty on the play allowed them to keep the ball and set up an eventual two-yard TD run by Daniel Cama. DeLellis kicked two more field goals, the second set up by a Timothy Gull interception, to lead 20-17 at the half. "The key was they made the adjustment to their offence," said McCarthy, "and they started getting some points." DeLellis increased the lead to six in the third quarter, but the Sooners jumped back in front when, after a curious pass interference call on the Riders, offensive lineman Derrick Crowder came out of the backfield for a one-yard TD. After that, it was all DeLellis.
"Never once," Junior Riders coach Luigi Costanzo said when asked if he was worried his team couldn't recover from the slow start. "We were a little shaky at first, but then we got comfortable and played hard the rest of the way. - By Don Brennan, Ottawa Sun -
All photos by Jeff Chan. Jeff is a member of the Queen's University Board of Trustees, the Queen's Centre Executive Committee, and the Queen's University Council on Athletics, and is past Chairman of the Vanier Cup - Canada's University Football Championship and the Premier University Event in Canada. Since retiring from the Vanier Cup Organizing Committee, he has become the Queen's Golden Gaels Football team photographer. In real life, he is Sr. Vice President, Human Resources at CMA Holdings Incorporated (MD Management) in Ottawa.
All photos are Copyright (c) Jeff Chan 2007, but may be used for personal non-commercial use, and by the Ottawa Jr. Riders, and the QJFL, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan. All other rights reserved.
All photos on this site are Copyright © Jeff Chan, and may be used for personal non-commercial applications including by Queen's University, and U Sports Canada and its member conferences, other participating teams, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan.
All other rights, including for all corporate and media use, are strictly reserved.