SACKVILLE, N.B. – Peter Fraser was smiling from his hairline to his chin and from ear-to-ear following his first-ever victory as a football head coach on Saturday.
Fraser, an Oromocto native, guided the Mount Allison Mounties to a 36-22 victory over the visiting Bishop’s Gaiters in an Atlantic Football Conference matchup.
However, Fraser refused to become too complacent following the victory.
“We took far too many penalties and had a couple of picks that should never happen,” he said.
But, on the whole, he did have some plaudits for his reliable players. And there were others who played significant roles as they stepped up to play a dogged game.
Quarterback Troy Downton, the man who stepped in last season when injuries took out the starter, came on strongly after a relatively poor beginning.
“Bishop’s have a new defensive coordinator and it took a little while to figure out their system,” Downton said, “but then things began to click.”
He completed 24-of-32 pass attempts and a touchdown and received excellent protection from a huge offensive line that was playing without Charles Lavallée, who served on the Canadian junior team that recently brought home the world championship from Mexico and appears to have solidified his hold on the No. 1 spot.
It was former Titan standout Aidan O’Neal who brought the huge turnout of fans to their feet with some scintillating punt returns for 64 yards and racked up a good deal of yardage rushing and pulled in six passes for 45 yards, while taking the heat off teammate Chris Reid. He missed last season with a wrist injury but in his debut at the university level, seemed to have similar success as at Tantramar, where he was voted MVP of the high school conference.
And another Titan grad, Dylan Cormier, was a constant on defense as he was in on two sacks and led the team with six tackles. Cormier teamed with defensive end Damian Halstead to lead the assault on opposing offenses and they were unforgiving in laying on teeth-rattling tackles.
The Gaiters gained the upper hand during the first part of the game as they notched a pair of points on a punt and missed field goal.
However, the Mounties moved ahead in the dying seconds of the half when Reid caught, juggled and regained control of the ball to put his team on the scoreboard.
Bishops opened the third session on fire and marched the length of the field on their first series to go up 8-7. Reid then went over from the one following a determined drive and it was all Mounties after that, although they went with bench players late in the fixture and allowed a Bishop’s touchdown with two seconds remaining.
Meanwhile, Malik Richards was again outstanding and put the game out of reach early in the final period and scored his second in the fourth before cornerback Skyler picked off an errant Bishop’s pass and took it home.
Meanwhile, Fraser admitted the next two weeks will see plenty of hard work both on the field and studying film as the Mounties prepare to host St. Mary’s Huskies on Sept. 8. The Huskies downed St. FX X-Men 20-13 on Friday night.
A week earlier the Mounties went down 17-10 to the Huskies in pre-season action, but Fraser knows they have a strong squad and is eager to atone for some past errors.
He knows that his players must learn to take far fewer penalties – on Saturday there were assessed 25 times for 170 yards. Even though Fraser described Bishop’s as having a strong team the match with SMU could be a true test of wills.