ANTIGONISH, NS - The STFX X-Men are returning to the AUS championship game following a 36-20 victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies in Saturday's semi-final match on Saturday afternoon.
AUS outstanding player of the year Silas Fagnan (Bonnyville, AB) was named player of the game as he had a big game for the X-Men, going 19-29 in passing attempts with 362 yards in the air for four touchdown passes, while also picking up 72 rushing yards. Ben Harrington (Dartmouth, NS) made seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns, with Zachary Houde (Thetford Mines, QC) catching five passes for 123 yards.
For the Huskies, Brett Maisonneuve (Gatineau, QC) went 15-28 in passing attempts for 149 yards in the air and one touchdown, with A'dre Simmonds (North Preston, NS) picking up 53 yards on the ground and Brycen Mayoh (Port Coquitlam, BC) making 9 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
On defence, X-Men Nathan Cayouette (Strathmore, AB) and Liam Wilde (Calgary, AB) each had six tackles while Hunter Mousseau (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) had 5.5 tackles included two sacks. For the Huskies, Macklin McPhee (Ancaster, ON) had 7.5 tackles, including 7 solos, while Jacob Morgan (Halifax, NS) made six tackles, five of them being solo.
The teams then traded possessions early on, with the Saint Mary's defence forcing a pair of punts from deep in the X-Men zone in the first quarter. After making a push into the redzone, the Huskies scored the first points of the game with kicker Ethan Nagler (Winnipeg, MB) drilling a 31-yard field goal. In the final seconds of the quarter, Maisonneuve found Liam Stewart (Port Coquitlam, BC) in the endzone with an eight-yard strike, increasing the Huskies lead to 10. Nagler added the extra point.
The X-Men came out firing in the second quarter, with Fagnan marching his team down with a trio of passes, including a 24-yard toss to Tyler Ivany (Moncton, NB) for six points, with Ben Hadley (Halifax, NS) adding the PAT.
STFX then forced a Saint Mary' punt, which led to Fagnan rushing for a first down, followed by a 40-yard bomb to Harrington for the major, with Hadley again kicking the extra point. After a few more possession trades, Hadley kicked a field goal from 12 yards out, giving the home team a seven-point lead. Hadley capped off the half with a 10-yard field goal, with the score 20-10 at the end of the first half.
The X-Men looked to add to their lead with 11 minutes to play in the third quarter, but the Huskies special teams came up big with a blocked field goal attempt. About four minutes later, Nagler hit a 29-yard field goal for the visitors to make it a one possession game.
A missed field goal gave the X-Men a point early in the fourth quarter, and they added to their lead on their next possession, with Fagnan again finding Harrington deep, this time with a 69-yard toss for six. Hadley added the extra point, making the score 28-13. The passing game continued to work for the X-Men, with Fagnan finding Caleb Fogarty (Moncton, NB) from three yards out, followed by a Hadley extra point. STFX added a rouge before the Huskies were able to respond late in the game, with Duncan Patterson (Bedford, NS) finding Mayoh with a 31-yard pass. Nagler hit the extra point to round out the final scoring in the game.
With the win, the X-Men will host the AUS Loney Bowl championship game on November 11, when they will face the Bishop's Gaiters. The game will mark the third consecutive year the two teams have met for the conference final.
Recap courtesy Matt Draper, STFX Athletics