The Mounties' Matt Rose catches a 15-yard pass from QB Brandon Leyh, giving Mount A a 7-0 lead in Saturday's game against the Huskies. PHOTO SUBMITTED
With a beautiful 30 minute light show taking place downtown, there were plenty of fireworks on "the hill" as the hometown Mount Allison Mounties unleashed a potent attack and an air-tight defense to knock off the perennial powerhouse St. Mary's Huskies 29-15 on Saturday night in an Atlantic Universities Football Conference match-up at David MacAulay Field. The win leaves the Mounties and Huskies each with a 1-2 record, the same as the Acadia Axemen, while the St. Francis Xavier X-Men are 2-1.
Following a pair of major defeats, similar to a year ago when they finished off with three wins in six tries, the hometown crew left little doubt as to the better team on the night.
The defense smothered the Huskies as they sacked the quarterback no less than seven times, picked off a pair of interceptions, scored a touchdown on a 60 yard fumble return and caused even more turnovers by preventing the visitors from gaining yards on third down efforts on four occasions.
There were numerous bright spots but a key was the return of sophomore quarterback Brendon Leyh, who had been out with a lower leg injury.
"Last year I really didn't know what I was doing," said the former BC junior star. "But this time, with a year of experience and a strong working relationship with coach Jeffrey, I feel as though I understand the system and am prepared to provide leadership."
Leyh was thrown into the flames last season as a rookie when the former signal caller called it quits after two games, and although he showed flashes of brilliance was never able to fully lead the team. He believes a year of play by his offensive line has made them much better, while the addition of Rod Joseph as a key receiver has given him one more tool in his arsenal.
Offensively, the two teams were pretty even, each notching 251 yards of gains with Leyh going 17 for 27 and 195 yards through the air with a touchdown but also throwing a trio of picks. On the other side, a pair of quarterbacks went 15 of 32 for 207 yards and a pair of interceptions. Each team had 15 first downs, while penalties continued to dominate as each was nicked for 14 calls. with the Huskies incurring 144 yards to 132 for the hosts.
Neither team could get a ground game going as the defenses stopped Mike Dawes for 37 yards and curtailed Jordan Botel for just 54 yards on 25 attempts. So it was a more open attack on each side with coach Jeffrey showing confidence in Leyh with a mixture of calls.
The Mounties showed some new wrinkles on defense with two or three newcomers stealing the spotlight at times. Dexter Damboise snared a Huskie fumble and rambled home from 60 yards out, and Mark Sampson snared an interception, knocked down a couple of others and played a tough corner. Dylan Cossar, in at safety on passing situations, was a terror as he sacked the Huskie signal caller on three occasions. These were his first in two years, while quick end Jordan Redding was a force with another trio of sacks. Donovan Saunders had an interception and provided tight coverage while Michael Bohan did it all with tackles, kick and punt returns and an all-around strong game. Troy Trentham blocked a punt and returned punts as well as receiving a quartet of passes.
All in all, it was perhaps the finest game in some time turned in by the Mounties who now must prepare to face the powerful Acadia Axemen, early favourites to repeat as champions, this Saturday.
The offense began to work effectively, especially with the passing game, the defense was sound throughout although the special teams could improve a bit with some stronger kicking, although punter Kyle McLean is performing consistently. The return game is being run by committee for some reason but, overall, there was vast improvement.
Matt Montgomery led the defense with 9.5 tackles, Bohan recorded 6.5 while Kwame Adjei had a pick.
Meanwhile, tough defensive end Christian Plante said it is now fun playing and said the team will set its sights on Acadia as they practice this week. And Cossar, the surprising star, said the Mounties were able to exert pressure all game while the secondary has rounded into fighting form quickly.
Matt Rose tucked in a 14-yarder from Leyh after 4:31 of the game to complete a 54-yard drive to launch the Mounties on their way and they went up by another three when Renaud Lebreque clicked on 25-yard field goal and a little later the same kicker hit for a single to send the hosts up 11-0 by the end of 15 minutes. 0The visitors struck late in the second quarter for a major score but eight plays and one minute later Botel finished off a 60-yard drive with a two-yard scamper into the end zone, leaving his team up 18-7 at the break.
The Mounties’ defense stood tall to stop the Huskies and at the 4:30 mark Dexter Dambroise scooped up a Huskie fumble, showed some quick feet down the sideline and ended with a six-pointer, putting the game on ice. A pair of conceded safeties by St. Mary's and a late Huskie field goal completed the scoring.
The victory marked the third time in succession the Mounties have defeated the Huskies in home games but they have not been nearly as successful in Halifax.