They made it to the playoffs for the first time in three years, but any hopes of advancing to the conference championship game this weekend went awash in Lennoxville, Que., on Saturday evening, as the Mount Allison Mounties lost 28-18 to Bishop’s Gaiters.
The Gaiters, who made the playoffs for the first time in five years competing against Maritime teams, will meet the Acadia Axemen in the Loney Bowl on Saturday in Wolfville.
Saturday’s results came as a shock to those who have long supported the Mount Allison program. Just two weeks ago they had dumped Bishop’s 35-13 here in Sackville and it was expected they would finish the job and return to face the Axemen – a team they have fought tooth-and-nail this season.
But such was not to be. It became obvious early in the game that the Gaiters were primed and ready. With a week for preparation, it was obvious their coaches had done the job. They not only kept key running back Jack Estabrooks under control, but made it near impossible for quarterback David Patry to hook up with Josh Hicks. Hicks had established records a week earlier with 16 receptions for 300 yards. This time he had just three catches, as he was double- and triple-covered.
The Mountie offense was frustrated throughout the opening half as they accounted for just five first downs – just one in the opening 15 minutes.
According to tradition, the Mounties came out rather flat – partially due to the long bus ride from Sackville, combined with a four-hour delay due to weather conditions in Quebec. Otherwise, they were outplayed at almost every turn.
However, after falling behind 19-0 by halftime, they found some extra spirit at the break and were within a field goal midway through the fourth. Then, after having forced Bishop's back to their one-yard line with a long punt and penalty, they seemed in a position to change things. That was short-lived as the Gaiters moved the ball 109 yards in a combination of draws, sweeps and passes to score the clinching touchdown, moving the score from 21-18 to the final 28-18.
A fair number of recruits have proven to be outstanding this season and should work well in the Peter Fraser system moving on. But, as usual, a good many veterans will be moving on and this will be covered in a later column. It appears as though with a solid core of returnees, combined with a strong and successful recruiting tour, the Mounties could be in for a long run of competition.
During the past season, their defense was considered one of the best in the conference, but again it was hitches on attack with a trio of quarterbacks trying their hands at the controls. And injuries also played a major role.
But back to the game statistics box, Bishop's led in most categories – first downs (26-16), offensive yards (348-196) and time of possession.
With Estabrooks held under control, Patry was the best runner with 48 yards, while Robbie Walker was good for five catches for 68 yards.
Bishop’s went full value for their victory, exhibiting all the factors required – passion, intensity, planning and execution – and it will be an interesting matchup in Wolfville.