Fourth-year receiver Giovanni Aprile scored four first-half touchdowns to lead the Queen’s University Gaels to a 52-1 victory over the York University Lions in the season opener for both teams at Centennial Park Stadium Sunday, Aug. 25.
Aprile’s most electric score was a missed field goal that he returned 115 yards the other way to make the score 36-0 in favour of the Gaels. The Scarborough, Ont., native also recorded the first points of the game on a 26-yard rush and tallied a pair of long touchdowns in the air, the first for 58 yards late in the first quarter and the second for 55 yards at the beginning of the second.
For the game, he recorded 349 all-purpose yards, accounting for 176 receiving yards, 122 return yards and 26 rushing yards.
The Gaels, contenders to win the Yates Cup this year with veteran players at nearly every position on the field, went the first seven minutes of the game without a score as both teams traded punts, but Queen’s quickly got on the board and didn’t look back from there.
The Lions outgained the Gaels on the ground – 120 yards to 96 – but Queen’s broke the game open with a series of big plays in the air, which proved to be the difference.
Quarterback Billy McPhee of Burlington, Ont., completed 13 of 23 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns, while his counterpart, York’s Myles Gibbon of Montreal went 10-for-19 for 100 yards and an interception. Gibbon also accounted for 45 yards on 15 carries on the ground, the most of any player in the game.
On defence, the Lions were led by fourth-year defensive end James Tuck of Aurora, Ont., and fourth-year defensive back Cory Bellerdine of Orleans, Ont. Both had 4.5 tackles. Tuck was all over the field, recording one huge nine-yard tackle for loss and a big pass break-up when he knocked the ball down at the line of scrimmage.
The Gaels’ defensive leaders were T.J. Chase Dunawa of Toronto and Cory Dyer of Gananoque, Ont., who had five tackles each.
The Lions have a bye in week two and will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 7 when they welcome the Laurier Golden Hawks to York Stadium for the first game on their new turf. The Gaels, meanwhile, will return home next week to host the defending Yates Cup champions, the McMaster Marauders, in their home opener at Richardson Stadium.