SACKVILLE, N.B. – With less than four minutes remaining in the game the Mounties led by two points- 26-24 – but then the roof caved and they ended on the short end of a 38-26 loss to the Acadia Axemen in Atlantic Universities Football Conference action in Wolfville on Saturday afternoon.
For the Mounties it was their second consecutive setback and they now hold a 1-2 record, while the Axemen moved to 2-l. St. FX is also 2-1, trailing Saint Mary’s, who site at 3-0, and well ahead of Bishops at 0-4.
On Saturday the Mounties dominated the statistics sheets, having more yards, more first downs, and controlling the ball longer, but the seal was placed on the box with just 24 seconds remaining when an Axemen defensive corner stole the ball from the Mountie receiver and raced 68 yards to pay dirt.
The game had been a give-and-take until that point, with the two teams swapping leads on three occasions only to have the only interception of the day prove the difference.
Offensive coordinator Gaétan Richard admitted the Mounties got off to a slow start and took a few minutes to adjust to the pace. Acadia took the lead after 10 minutes of play when star running back Dale Wright finished off a 71-yard drive with a four-yard plunge into the end zone.
The Mounties came back with a James Parker field goal and a two-point safety to trail 7-5 after 15 minutes. Midway through the second session Mountie quarterback Troy Downton bulled over from the one to wrap up an eight-play 68-yard drive.
An Acadia safety and a 27-yard reception by Carl Hastings forced the winner to the front to up the Axemen lead to 16-12 and then Alex Lawrie on a one yard run left Acadia up 23-12. But a Chris Reid touchdown and a James Parker rouge brought the Mounties to the top for the final time as they went up 26-24 only to see the penalty bug creep in – Nate Rosek made an interception but the Mounties were called for being offside and the winners proceeded to finish their 48-yard drive before the lid was sealed on a pass interception return for a major.
Downton completed 24 of 31 attempts for 263 yards and one interception. Josh Hicks was the favourite target with seven for 79 yards while Aidan O’Neal had four excellent grabs for 75 yards.
Malik Richards, normally the ace receiver, became the top ground gainer with 53 yards on six carries. Chris Reid picked up 47 yards on the day after posting two consecutive 100-plus games and added a pair of touchdowns.
Nate Rostek was all over the field for the Mounties breaking up passes, laying on huge tackles and generally leading his team from his safety position with 9.5 tackles, including seven unassisted. Linebacker Damian Halstead was another Johnny-on-the-spot with 8.5 stops, while newcomer defensive end Dru Moore was a constant quarterback threat.
And now it will be back to the drawing board in preparation for this Saturday when the St. Francis Xavier X-Men will be the attraction in the annual Mountie Homecoming game.
Hundreds of former Mounties and other students will be in town marking Mountie Pride.
The weekend will also feature the annual golf tournament, soccer games, a brunch and the ever-popular Sackville Fall Fair to provide a busy schedule for the former students.
The homecoming game will be pivotal event for the Mounties. A victory is nearly a must if they are to claim a playoff spot and not end up out of it for the second year in a row. So, expect to see offensive coordinator Gaétan Richard and head coach Peter Fraser do some brainstorming and offer us some interesting plays in the hopes of turning the tide.