Football Mounties head coach Kelly Jeffrey was disappointed by his offense's inability to find the end zone Saturday night.
They came out slinging the ball with reckless abandon and took the hometown Acadia Axemen by total surprise for the opening 30 minutes, but the wheels stopped turning over the second half, and the Mount Allison Mounties saw their record dip to 1-3 following their 40-9 defeat in a rare Saturday night game in Wolfville.
By halftime the Mounties had piled up far more yards and first downs, but their lack of a "killer instinct" resulted in them falling behind 17-9. The Axemen, displaying disciplined control and some trick plays, racked up a pair of touchdowns on a fake field goal attempt and a 55-yard interception return.
On the other hand, the Mounties moved into the red zone five times in the opening session, including three times inside the 10, but came away with just nine points on a trio of field goals while turning the ball over on downs on two occasions.
The Mounties moved the ball up and down the field with ease during the opening half with a strong aerial game led by Brendan Leyh with rookie Rod Joseph and veteran Troy Trentham on the receiving end, but it was their inability to punch the ball into the end zone that cost them dearly. They could easily have been leading by more than a trio of touchdowns with a little more punch in their attack.
But the Axemen threw up an extremely tough defense. They kept Leyh on the run as the pocket continued to fold in around him and the defensive secondary put some heavy licks on the receivers. This resulted in an injury forcing Rod Joseph out of the game and created fumbles and turnovers.
Actually, both defenses turned in outstanding jobs during most of the contest. At half time Mountie coach Kelly Jeffrey expressed satisfaction with his defenders but was a little upset with his attackers' inability to finish plays.
Defensive coordinator Scott Brady had his units blitzing on every play - rush, pass and zone blitzes - and the sudden change in tactics caused the Axemen strategists to reconsider their game plan. Of course the Axemen had been anticipating the Mounties to come with a strong ground game, which they kept on ice well into the third quarter. The two changes in plans allowed the visitors to dominate field play until intermission when some adjustments could be made. For the final 30 minutes the Mounties were unable to generate any momentum and were outscored 23-0 to allow the Axemen to move into a tie with St. Mary's and St. F.X., all with 2-2 marks.
Kwame Adjei, Jacob LeBlanc, Te Nguyen, Michael Bohan, Quinn Everett, Ben Grass, Mattt Montgomery, Devant Sampson, Jordan Redding and Donovan Saunders played well on the defensive side of the ball for the losers, while quarterback Brendan Leyh was named Mountie player of the game. Joseph, Trentham and Matt Rose were the key receivers.
The Mountie defenders had held the Axemen to what appeared to be a field goal effort on the 27 but, oops, one of their receivers got down field and was hit with the ball by the holder and put seven points on the board. Before you knew it they had another seven as the direct result of a Mountie errant pass at midfield to send them up by 14. However, the visitors kept dominating play on the field and drove time after time to the shadows of the goal post only to be thwarted by a stingy and unbreaking Axemen steel wall.
Even their field goal to up the count to 17-9 came as a "gift" when they dropped punter Kyle McLean who had attempted to run the ball rather than kick.
Even in defeat the Mounties showed spirit and determination, although a more diverse running attack would help. The decision to allow Leyh to put the ball in the air has improved the aesthetics for fans, who were previously often left grumbling over the dullness and lack of imagination of the offense. They were up against the team heavily favoured to represent the Atlantic Conference in post-season play and showed they can compete. However, as lineman Quinn Everett said earlier, "We must learn that it takes a full effort over 60 minutes in every game."
The score actually didn't reflect that statistical picture as the Mounties dominated for the opening 30 minutes, while Acadia had control the remainder of the way. Acadia had an offense of 408 yards to 325 for the Mounties and 26 first downs, five more than the losers. The Mounties completed 27 of 52 pass attempts and had an interception while picking up 285 yards, while Acadia managed to earn 262 through the air.
But it was turnovers that hurt. The Mounties failed on all six attempts to gain yardage on third down, had a couple of interceptions and a couple of fumbles, problems requiring fixing if they are to match last season's success. And another area of concern is a powerful kicker, one who can connect consistently from 35-40 yards and who can send kickoffs to the opposing five-yard line.
But this week things could be totally different. They will journey to Antigonish for an afternoon meeting on Saturday with the St. F.X. X-men and a win would put them back into the hunt for a playoff spot.