Football team goes into record books with win.
The Atlantic University Sport (AUS) playoff picture is in chaos going into the final week of the season. The Mount Allison Mounties were victorious in two straight games these past two weekends. This puts the team back into the playoff race. This means that they will have an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot at home in their regular season finale against the Acadia Axemen.
The Mounties beat Saint Francis Xavier X-Men (St. FX) convincingly, 42-13, on October 12 at MacAulay Field. Thus, salvaging one win against the X-Men after losing both games in Antigonish. Mt. A went to Saint Mary’s (SMU) and beat the Huskies 27-24. This was the first victory in Halifax since 1997. The last time the Mounties beat SMU on the road, the Mounties won their last AUS Championship.
These two victories have caused the entire playoff picture of the AUS to change. SMU is still in first place with a record of four wins and three losses, but there is now a three-way tie for second, at three wins and four losses after Acadia beat St. FX on Saturday.
The Mounties got their second home win of the season against St. FX on a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend. The offence had their best game of the season with 534 yards of total offence with a good combination of running and passing. Brandon Leyh, Jordan Botel, and Josh Blanchard each had career days, with Leyh winning AUS offensive player of the week. Blanchard came into the game with no catches this season before catching eight balls for 150 yards receiving and a fifty-nine yard touchdown reception. Leyh threw a career high 292 yards passing and Botel improved his AUS high for the second straight week to 131 yards on the ground, he would run for even more yards against SMU.
Donovan Saunders led an impressive defensive game by the Mounties and was named AUS defensive player of the week. He got his second interception of the year and added three tackles.
The team did not lose any momentum coming into the game against SMU in Halifax last Friday night. The Mt. A faithful were well represented at the game and cheered loudly for their team. Huskies Stadium has not been a very fun place to play over the years for Mt. A, losing every regular season and playoff game there since 1997. The players fed off the fans’ energy in the first half, coming back from 11-1 to make it 15-11 on two quick touchdowns. The first was by Botel, and Josh Blanchard stepped up for the second straight week catching a thirty-seven yard touchdown pass on a trick play. Wide receiver Troy Trentham threw the touchdown pass, which eluded the Huskies’ defence.
Saint Mary’s took the lead once again in the third quarter on a touchdown and two safeties, with Mt. A’s only points coming with one second left in the quarter on kicker Kyle McLean’s field goal.
The Mounties took the lead again early in the fourth, and this time they would never relinquish it. Leyh threw a fifty-seven yard touchdown pass down the field to Trentham, who accomplished the rare feat of throwing and receiving a touchdown pass in the same game. Mt. A defensive back Kwame Adjai intercepted a pass with 2:46 left on the clock, but the defense was only able to get the clock down to 1:08 before giving the ball back to SMU. Once again, the Huskies’ drive was stopped by an interception, this time by defensive back Devante Sampson.
The Mt. A sideline erupted with excitement and celebration once the interception clinched the 27-24 win that had been years in the making.
The two comebacks in the game symbolized how the Mounties’ season has gone so far. They now have a chance to clinch a playoff berth that seemed very improbable just two weeks ago.
Botel once again set his AUS high for rushing yards with 162 and added another touchdown. He leads the AUS in 645 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns. Mountie defensive lineman Jacob Leblanc was the player of the game with ten and a half tackles and two sacks.
The Mounties will look to clinch their fourth playoff spot in six years with a win next Saturday at 2 pm against Acadia, but Mt. A will once again need a whole team effort to beat the Axemen. They have had a good combination of passing and running the ball, and the defence has been effective the past two weeks. Michael Bohan will be a difference maker on kick and punt returns. Mt. A lost their only game against Acadia earlier this year 40-9, but home field advantage will certainly make a difference this weekend.