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Mounties face Huskies after nail-biter of a win against Acadia Axemen

Football Mountie Graham Kelly goes up to block a kick by the Axemen’s Brandon Jannings to secure a 15-13 win for the Sackville squad and keep their playoffs hopes alive. PAUL D. LYNCH PHOTO – PAULDLYNCH.SMUGMUG.COM
Football Mountie Graham Kelly goes up to block a kick by the Axemen’s Brandon Jannings to secure a 15-13 win for the Sackville squad and keep their playoffs hopes alive. PAUL D. LYNCH PHOTO – PAULDLYNCH.SMUGMUG.COM

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – Leaping well above his height of 6’7” freshman Graham Kelly made “the play of the game” as the final whistle went to end a seesaw battle in Wolfville on Saturday afternoon.

With the Mounties ahead by two points Acadia had the ball on the Mountie 33 when kicker Brandon Jannings lined up a 40-yard field goal attempt to win the game . . . but Kelly got a huge hand in front of the ball and “that was all she wrote”.

Yep, the Mounties kept their playoff hopes much alive by playing tough defense to turn back the Axemen in their annual Homecoming game – 15-13.

“You could say I am happy,” echoed head coach Scott Brady.  “The guys played hard for 60 minutes and made things happen. They had great push and played every snap and I am really proud of them.”

Both teams were suffering from injuries, while most of the players had some form of hurt but they left everything on the field. With all-conference corner Devante Sampson joining the wounded it was necessary to do some juggling and Brady expressed pleasure with the manner in which a couple of rookies stepped up. And he had words of praise for ball control receiver Dakota Brush, who played the best game of his career even though he was forced to give up the ball late in the game after a huge gain.

With the Mounties ahead by two points Acadia had the ball on the Mountie 33 when kicker Brandon Jannings lined up a 40-yard field goal attempt to win the game . . . but Kelly got a huge hand in front of the ball and “that was all she wrote”.

Yep, the Mounties kept their playoff hopes much alive by playing tough defense to turn back the Axemen in their annual Homecoming game – 15-13.

“You could say I am happy,” echoed head coach Scott Brady.  “The guys played hard for 60 minutes and made things happen. They had great push and played every snap and I am really proud of them.”

Both teams were suffering from injuries, while most of the players had some form of hurt but they left everything on the field. With all-conference corner Devante Sampson joining the wounded it was necessary to do some juggling and Brady expressed pleasure with the manner in which a couple of rookies stepped up. And he had words of praise for ball control receiver Dakota Brush, who played the best game of his career even though he was forced to give up the ball late in the game after a huge gain.

The victory was the second of the season for the Mounties over Acadia as they took their meeting in Sackville 20-12 and now sit in third place with a 2-4 record while Acadia remains in the basement at 1-5.

A victory this Saturday here in Sackville over the Saint Mary’s Huskies would assure the local squad of a playoff berth, while Acadia must meet the powerful X-Men on the weekend. This week’s game at Alumni Field is set for 2 p.m. and a huge turnout is expected as the race continues for conference honours.

Brady and his gang trailed 8-3 at half time but outscored Acadia 12-5 over the final 39 minutes to squeeze out their second win of the season.

The visitors were forced deep and midway through the quarter conceded a safety rather than punt from their own end zone and then Jannings connected with a 398-yard field goal to send Acadia up by five before the teams traded field goals – a 38-yarder by Ryan Lambert and a 26-yard one by Jannings.

Dakota Brush had 16 receptions on the day, none more important than the one that accounted for a touchdown early in the third on a 12-yard toss from Jakob Loucks. But a safety and 40-yard field goal by Jannings sent Acadia up 13-10 going into the final session.

Loucks led his team into hostile territory and a stout defense locked Acadia inside their 10 from where they conceded a two-pointer and then Lambert calmly lofted a 40-yard kick through the uprights with nine minutes to go to account for the 15-13 outcome.

But the fans – those of the Mounties on their seats and shaking and those of Acadia screaming for what appeared to be certain victory – were nervous as Jannings lined up an apparent winning kick.  That was the moment when time stopped as the ball was placed on the tee, the toe sent it toward the uprights and then a giant of a man said “no way” and saved victory for his team.

Brush accounted for the only touchdown of the day as it was time for the kickers and by fate it was Ryan Lambert who came out the winner.

Loucks, the gritty Mountie quarterback who was coming back from an injury that forced him from the game a week earlier, proved to be a force.  He completed 18 of 28 passes for 192 yards, absorbed a couple of sacks and kept on ticking. Chris Reid fought his way for 83 tough yards as the team put 323 yards on the boards.  But the stats told the story of two equal teams – Acadia had 334 yards.

Defensively, it was Nate Rostek leading the Mounties with 9.5 tackles followed by Donovan Glave with six and Damien Halstead and Kyle Horsman with 5.5 apiece. Glave spearheaded a quick and touch front seven from his tackle slot, creating havoc much as former tackle Jake LeBlanc did for four seasons. Glave was named conference rookie-of-the-year in 2015 and has picked up his game.

The Saint Mary’s Huskies have downed the Mounties twice this season in Halifax and Brady knows what must be done to turn the tide this Saturday.  It means hard work, discipline and total commitment – all traits he believes will be obvious when the final whistle blows close to 5 o’clock on Saturday.

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