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Mounties start season with narrow exhibition loss against X-Men

Mountie quarterback Troy Downtown passes down field during Saturday’s exhibition match against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in Antigonish. PAUL D. LYNCH PHOTO – PAULDLYNCH.SMUGMUG.COM
Mountie quarterback Troy Downtown passes down field during Saturday’s exhibition match against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in Antigonish. PAUL D. LYNCH PHOTO – PAULDLYNCH.SMUGMUG.COM

EDITOR'S NOTE: The headline that originally appeared with this article incorrectly stated the Mounties won against the X-Men. The error was not the fault of the author but a production error. The Sackville Tribune-Post apologizes for any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused.

ANTIGONISH, N.S. – The only thing surprising about the outcome of games between the Mount Allison Mounties and the St. Francis Xavier X-Men would be if nothing surprising occurred.

This weird phenomenon began three years ago when the Mounties pulled off an unbelievable feat of scoring a trio of touchdowns in the final two minutes to launch the team toward a perfect 10-0 season.

The situation was reversed last season when the visiting X-Men scored with a minute left in the game to snatch a 14-12 victory to take home the Loney Bowl, held for the previous two seasons by the Sackville squad.

So, should anybody be surprised that a repeat took place in Antigonish on Saturday when the home team overcame a nine-point deficit to post 10 unanswered points of their own in the final quarter with the winning touchdown coming with a minute left in the match to win 18-17 in a pre-season exhibition.

With this in mind fans will be expecting more fireworks this Saturday when the two squads hook up here in Sackville in the opening game of the 2016 Atlantic Universities Football Conference (AUFC) schedule.

It’s true both coaches used last week’s contest as a test of new talent. Rookie quarterbacks on both sides were given their trial by fire, while few veterans were given an opportunity to work up a sweat.  Both teams have great running back – Carty of X and Read and Ambursley of Mounties – but it was Nathan Jones of the Mounties who carried the load along the ground.

ANTIGONISH, N.S. – The only thing surprising about the outcome of games between the Mount Allison Mounties and the St. Francis Xavier X-Men would be if nothing surprising occurred.

This weird phenomenon began three years ago when the Mounties pulled off an unbelievable feat of scoring a trio of touchdowns in the final two minutes to launch the team toward a perfect 10-0 season.

The situation was reversed last season when the visiting X-Men scored with a minute left in the game to snatch a 14-12 victory to take home the Loney Bowl, held for the previous two seasons by the Sackville squad.

So, should anybody be surprised that a repeat took place in Antigonish on Saturday when the home team overcame a nine-point deficit to post 10 unanswered points of their own in the final quarter with the winning touchdown coming with a minute left in the match to win 18-17 in a pre-season exhibition.

With this in mind fans will be expecting more fireworks this Saturday when the two squads hook up here in Sackville in the opening game of the 2016 Atlantic Universities Football Conference (AUFC) schedule.

It’s true both coaches used last week’s contest as a test of new talent. Rookie quarterbacks on both sides were given their trial by fire, while few veterans were given an opportunity to work up a sweat.  Both teams have great running back – Carty of X and Read and Ambursley of Mounties – but it was Nathan Jones of the Mounties who carried the load along the ground.

Mount Allison rookie head football coach Scott Brady, centre, says he will be demanding more from his team for thier first regular season game.

While rookie head coach Scott Brady says he will not name his starting quarterback until game time, the results from Saturday would indicate that Jakob Loucks may get the call, with returnee Troy Downton and rookie Graham Kelly in backup roles. Brady said after the game that Loucks showed plenty of skill and talent in throwing some good balls but obviously needs more time to transition to this level.

In future, fans will learn the names of players like Philip Thompson, Ian Carty, Jake Spence and Nathan Jones but in the meantime the game will be dominated by stars such as Ambursley, Brush, Hicks, Read, Bohan, Cossar, Glave, Goguen, Horseman, Lambert, MacAuley, Myers, Yorke and Zwicker.

In assessing his team Brady said he had seen some good and some bad play and is demanding a much better performance by his defensive unit in particular.

A pair of singles and two field goals sent the X-Men out front 8-0 before the Mounties could rebound. A two-point safety and the Jones five-yard touchdown run shot the Mounties into an 11-8 lead before Ryan Lambert booted a pair of field goals, one coming from 49 yards, to up their count to 17. But with less than two minutes remaining the winners clicked on a 61-yard major for the victory.

The two squads substituted frequently and things will look far different this week when the A squads for both will get the major share of the work, and watch for the Mountie ground game to come up big.  However, their defensive unit will have to be more alert, especially the linebackers and secondary.

This Saturday will see new bleachers and score clock in place as well as end bleachers in preparation for a huge turnout.

So, a brand new season will be launched – a new head coach, improved facilities, the largest camp in the 61-year history of the team – with the hope of returning the Loney Bowl to Sackville and another shot at moving beyond the region.

Brady believes he has recruited the talent to improve the overall potential of the team but it will require more work than ever to accomplish the minimum goals. They will need the 13th man on the field – a huge rooting section that should be guaranteed.

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