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Mounties fall 29-18 in season-opener, set to face Saint Mary’s Friday night

Mount Allison’s Chris Reid, shown in this file photo scoring a major earlier in the season, is one of three key Mounties currently on the injured list.. PAUL D. LYNCH PHOTO – PAULDLYNCH.SMUGMUG.COM
Mount Allison’s Chris Reid, shown in this file photo scoring a major earlier in the season, is one of three key Mounties currently on the injured list.. PAUL D. LYNCH PHOTO – PAULDLYNCH.SMUGMUG.COM

SACKVILLE, N.B. – It wasn’t exactly the type of debut Scott Brady had hoped for but in spite of problems on the field he could still see the rainbow through the clouds following the Mounties’ 29-18 defeat at the hands of the visiting St. Francis Xavier X-men on Saturday afternoon.

No,” he said, “it didn’t go the way we had planned, but I saw some good things this afternoon that we will be able to improve with some hard work and commitment.”

He said the Mounties can, will and must step up their game if they are to be prepared to defeat the vastly improved St. Mary’s Huskies Friday night at 7 when they meet in Halifax. The rebuilt Huskies with a new head coach and outstanding quarterback are expected to be in the mix by the end of the campaign.

But on Saturday it was the X-Men who showed slightly better in most categories. Defensively, they refused to give up many big plays. Offensively, quarterback Tevin Cook found ways to penetrate the Mountie secondary with bombs, and on special teams they held an edge with some great down field coverage.

Cook, an all-conference performer and easily the top signal caller, picked his spots with success in accounting for 359 yards through the air with a touchdown but also a pair of interceptions.

But a tough nosed defense resulted in Cook hitting the turf on five occasions. However, this seemed to have little impact as he continued to find ways to hook up with receivers.

Mount Allison head football coach Scott Brady, centre, will be demanding more from his team in Friday evening's game against the Huskies.

Rookie Jakob Loucks, who played his ball in New York State last season, appears to have nailed down the signal-calling job for the Mounties. He showed a strong arm on Saturday but his greatest asset may turn out to be his ability to scramble. When forced out of the pocket he can usually turn it into good gains with a good set of wheels. He finished off 19 in 32 attempts with one pick for the day.

Brady had praise for his offensive line that gave Loucks an opportunity to set up and often dominated the opposing linemen. It was led by all-conference centre Andre Goguen of Moncton who moved people with ease. On the other side of the ball, Donovan Glave led a Mountie rush that resulted in five quarterback sacks, keeping Cook on his toes throughout.

Veteran rush end Jordan Redding, who had another fine day, said he could not understand the slow start by his team that saw them fall behind the eight ball 15-0 by half time. Redding, who was replaced by Shaun Robinson last year, returned to haunt the X-Men backs and looked as though he hadn’t missed a step.

Meanwhile, a pair of former Titans – defensive half Michael Bohan and offensive guard Ross McCormack – drew starting assignments, while rookie linebacker Dylan Cormier dressed in his first game at the higher level of play. Bohan enjoyed another fine day with an interception and several breakups while providing strong coverage on would-be receivers.

A pair of veterans – Kyle Horsman and Damian Halstead – earned their first starts at linebacker and led the tackling with eight and 5.5 respectively.

The Mounties were tentative in the early going as the X-Men defenders brought their A game. It wasn’t until the third quarter, after falling behind by 17 points that things seemed to come together.  It was former All-Canadian back Chris Reid who scored two majors on short yardage situations that brought them back into the game temporarily. A great reception by Dan Bossiere and the running of Keil Amsbursly set up the two scores.

But the winners quickly regained their form and put the game away with another 12 points.

While there were some disappointing moments on the field the well over 1,000 fans were treated to perfect weather conditions – sunny skies, high temperatures and little wind – and a beautiful setting. A new clock dominated the east end of the field, while the 850-seat grandstand on the south side had seen 400 special seats installed and most were occupied.

However, with all of this Alumni Field has not been kind to the team – the loss marked their fourth against just one victory on the artificial turf since it was installed midway through last season. This fact was pointed out by several former players who came from various parts of the country for the opener.

It was a disappointing beginning for Brady who assumed the head coaching position following the resignation of Kelly Jeffrey, who is now special teams coordinator with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. He has recruited well, but the staff has had many holes to fill following an unusually high number of graduates so success will be a work in progress. The result of this Friday’s game against the Huskies will be the benchmark – will the Mounties gel and regain their form of the past three seasons or will it be a long tough year? No doubt if hard work is the answer everything will come up roses.

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