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Mounties fall 16-6 to X-Men in season opener

Fourth-year Mountie Dylan Cormier, shown above (#31) about to wrap up an opposing player during the 2018 season, says it was “amazing” to finally have his younger brother, rookie Lucas, join him on the field.    PAULDLYNCH.COM PHOTO
Fourth-year Mountie Dylan Cormier, shown above (#31) about to wrap up an opposing player during the 2018 season, says it was “amazing” to finally have his younger brother, rookie Lucas, join him on the field. PAULDLYNCH.COM PHOTO - contributed

Despite loss, Sackville squad dominated opponents in games stats

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

They outplayed their opponents in every portion of the game except on the scoreboard – the one spot that really counts – and as a result the Mount Allison Mounties tasted defeat in their opening game of the Atlantic Universities Football Conference on Saturday afternoon as they stumbled to a 16-6 upset at the hands of St. Francis Xavier X-Men in Antigonish.

A combination of tactical mistakes, dropped passes, some poorly thrown footballs and missed assignments nullified an outstanding performance on the defensive side of the ball and the winners took full advantage of their opportunities.

Former Titan Aaron Rose, shown above on the right during last year’s season, was a standout in Saturday’s game against St. FX. Also pictured are former Mount Allison quarterback Troy Downton, centre, and former Tantramar Titan Aidan O’Neal, who is currently on the injured list. PAULDLYNCH.COM PHOTO
Former Titan Aaron Rose, shown above on the right during last year’s season, was a standout in Saturday’s game against St. FX. Also pictured are former Mount Allison quarterback Troy Downton, centre, and former Tantramar Titan Aidan O’Neal, who is currently on the injured list. PAULDLYNCH.COM PHOTO

The emergence of former Titan Aaron Rose was an eye opener. In the starting lineup at this level for the first time, he recorded a team-leading 9.5 tackles, picked off an errant X-Men pass and recovered an enemy fumble to wreak havoc all afternoon.

The former outstanding Titan linebacker set the tone for his game early in the game when he snared an errant St. FX ball to give the Mounties possession in the winner’s half of the field. But a couple of misplays set kicker James Parker up for a “chip shot”, only he was wide and for a while the Mounties held on to a 1-0 edge.

Actually, the Titan trio of Rose and the Cormier brothers, Dylan and Lucas, formed the defensive core. Lucas, in his rookie start at safety had an interception and four tackles, while Dylan recorded 6.5 tackles and was a force on every play.

“I know we have the potential to play a lot better football than that,” said Dylan following the game. “We just made far too many mistakes on both sides of the football and picked up way too many penalties.”

But he said it was an amazing feeling to be joined by younger brother Lucas.

“I have been waiting three years for him to finish high school and join me and the feeling was amazing.”

He also had words of praise for Rose, who stepped in and performed like a veteran.

The defense created five St. FX turnovers but managed just a single, field goal and a two-point safety as the host team also fielded a tough and unbending defense that stymied quarterback Hunter Sturgeon from finding the end zone even when they managed to reach the red zone.

The game statistics prove how well the Mounties held the edge in play as they had 25 first downs to 19 for the winners. In total offense they led the X-Men 385-228, had three sacks to none and the two teams had the ball an almost equal amount of time.

The winners grabbed a 7-1 leading after the opening quarter with the big play coming as veteran X-Men quarterback Brady Wasdal connected for seven. That was the lone time either team managed to find the scoring spot as all other points came off field goal attempts.

Adam Bennett, a former Team Canada running back, led the Mountie ground attack with 119 yards on 20 attempts, while Sturgeon had 74 yards on 11 keepers. Drew Besco was the top receiver with six receptions for 60 yards.

Sturgeon, a former signal caller with Leo Hayes and UNB, went all the way. Newcomer Julian Wyntinck missed the game along with Aidan O’Neal due to injury.

In summary, Dylan Cormier, who is playing his fourth season with the Mounties, said much of this week will be spent studying films so each player may learn from watching over and over his mistakes and attempting to atone. But he is confident his team can rebound and put up some good numbers.

And this will be necessary if they are to enjoy success here at Alumni Field against the St. Mary’s Huskies, fresh off a bye weekend following a humbling of St. FX in a pre-season exhibition.

This Saturday’s home game will kick off at 2 p.m. on Alumni Field.

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