X-Men close out AUS regular season with 65-17 win over Mounties

Courtesy Nick Pearce
Courtesy Nick Pearce

Antigonish, N.S. - The first place and defending conference champion StFX X-Men (7-1) wrapped up the regular season with a convincing 65-17 victory over the visiting Mount Allison Mounties (3-5) in AUS football action Saturday afternoon at StFX Stadium.

On senior day, the home team jumped to a 14-0 advantage, in the opening five minutes of the first quarter, and never looked back, on a day that three X-Men players put their names in the school's record book.

After connecting with Dejaun Martin (Scarborough, ON), on a 46-yard pass play, fifth-year quarterback Tivon Cook (Scarborough, ON) found Christian Ridley (Dubai, UAE) for a four-yard touchdown that capped a six-play, 84-yard drive. With a Jonathan Heidebrecht (Camrose, AB) conversion, the X-Men led 7-0.

Only two minutes later, at the 4:14 mark, Cook and Martin combined on a 40-yard pass-and-catch. With that reception, his 49th of the season, the sophomore set an X-Men single-season record, surpassing the record of Jermaine Baldwin (48).

Heidebrecht put the exclamation point on the one-play drive, with his conversion, to make it 14-0.

Before the midway point of the first quarter, the Mounties answered, on a six-yard TD scamper from Chris Reid (Brampton, ON). After a Ryan Lambert (Grimsby, ON) point-after, the visitors sliced the lead in half.

After recovering a fumble in the X-Men zone, the Mounties took over, but could not gain any yardage against a stingy StFX defense. Mount Allison settled for a 32-yard field goal from Lambert to trim the X-Men lead to 14-10.

Heidebrecht finished off a high-scoring first quarter with a 13-yard field goal that culminated an 11-play, 70-yard drive march, which gave StFX a 17-10 edge.

Early in the second quarter, spearheaded by a sack from Adam Kuntz (Camrose, AB), the X-Men defense penned the Mounties deep in their own zone. Because of the poor field position, Lambert conceded a safety to make it 19-10.

Keyed by 40 and 16-yard catches from Ridley, StFX engineered a four-play, 65-yard drive, which ended with the first career TD catch for Greg Nugent (London, ON). On the eight-yard scoring throw, Cook became the all-time passing leader for the X-Men, passing his offensive coordinator Steve Snyder.

With another Heidebrecht point-after, the X-Men led 26-10. After the Mounties conceded another safety, StFX took an 18-point advantage, at 28-10.

On the next offensive drive, Cook tossed another deep ball, connecting with Kaion Grant (Toronto, ON) for an electrifying 74-yard touchdown pass. After a Heidebrecht conversion, the X-Men led 35-10.

With less than two minutes remaining before halftime, Grant corralled a 12-yard TD pass from Cook. With a Heidebrecht kick, StFX made it 42-10.

After another conceded safety by the Mounties, the X-Men took a 44-10 lead to the locker room.

Less than five minutes into the third quarter, Martin caught his third consecutive touchdown pass, with back-up Josh Millar (Ottawa, ON), who suffered a leg injury on the throw, at quarterback. With the Heidebrecht conversion, the X-Men were up 51-10.

On their next drive, which covered only two plays, Cook completed his sixth TD throw - this one covering 41 yards to Martin, his second of the game of more than 40 yards. It was a record-making toss for the veteran quarterback, who tied the single-game mark (six) established by Roger Sevigny in 1964.

With the point-after from Heidebrecht, the X-Men led 58-10.

Late in the third quarter, running back Jordan Socholotiuk (Fort McMurray, AB) rumbled through a gaping hole created by the X-Men offensive line and raced 82 yards for a touchdown. With the run, the junior became the third StFX rusher to go over 1,000 in season, joining Paul Brule and Paul Carty.

With the Heidebrecht point-after, which wrapped up the X-Men's scoring, the lead was 65-10.

The Mounties scored the only points of the fourth quarter, with quarterback Jakob Loucks (Cornwall, ON) - his team's player of the game - finding the end zone on a nine-yard scamper.

With a Lambert conversion, which came after the impressive seven-play, 91-yard drive, the Mounties trailed 65-17.

Along with his six TD passes, Cook finished 22-for-27, with 397 yards, while Millar completed both pass attempts, for 24 yards.

Both Martin (seven catches) and Grant (six), with 159 and 132 yards, respectively, topped the century mark in receiving yards. On his six grabs, Ridley amassed 90 yards.

On the ground, Socholotiuk had 15 carries for 133 yards.

For the Mounties, Loucks finished 12-for-27, for 180 yards, while Graham Kelly (Burlington, ON) chipping in 54 yards, on two completions.

Dakota Brush (Brantford, ON) led Mount Allison receivers with five catches and 81 yards.

Chris Reid (Brampton, ON), with 22 carries and 92 yards, led the Mounties' 210-yard rushing attack. Loucks collected six yards, on 11 carries, while Nathan Jones (Courtice, ON) added 58 yards.

The X-Men held a 581-356 edge in total yards.

Kadel King (London, ENG) led the StFX defense with 8.5 tackles, including eight solo, while Hayden Peters (Inverary, ON) added seven, including six solo. Both players also provided their usual strong games on special teams.

Kuntz and Kyle Forde (Ajax, ON) chipped in sacks, while they added one and two tackles-for-loss, respectively.

For the Mounties, Devante Sampson (Mississauga, ON) finished with 7.5 tackles (six solo), while Dylan Cossar (Dartmouth, NS) and Angel Farias (Etobicoke, ON) added six apiece. Damian Halstead (Brampton, ON) had 5.5 tackles (three solo), along with one tackle-for-loss and one forced fumble.

The StFX record-setters - Martin, Cook and Socholotiuk - shared Subway player-of-the-game honours.

The X-Men did not lose a game in conference play this season, with their only defeat coming at the hands of the Concordia Stingers in interlock action.

The Mounties and Acadia Axemen will clash in the AUS semi-final game Saturday, Nov. 5, at 2 p.m., at MacAulay Field in Sackville, NB. The winner of that match-up will move on to face the X-Men in the Subway AUS Loney Bowl Saturday, Nov. 12. Kick-off for the championship game is 2 p.m.