Photo Credit John Bastin
Antigonish, NS - Ashton Dickson (Ottawa, ON) made his final StFX Homecoming game a memorable one in leading the X-Men (2-2) to a 31-15 win over the Saint Mary's Huskies (0-4) Saturday afternoon at Oland Stadium.
More than 2,100 fans braved windy and rainy conditions as the fifth-year running back earned Subway player-of-the-game honours with a 27-carry, 128-yard performance.
"The O-line is always the key to my success," Dickson said after the game, when asked about his effort. "They make the holes and I just run through them."
Powered by a 25-point surge in the second quarter, the X-Men took a 28-2 halftime lead.
"We got off to a good start in the first half," Dickson said. "In the second half, we could have done a lot better, but I think – at the end of the day – it just came down to who wanted it more in the last few minutes of the game."
StFX opened the scoring in the first quarter on a 38-yard field goal from freshman placekicker Jonathan Heidebrecht (Camrose, AB).
From deep in their own zone, X-Men quarterback Tivon Cook (Scarborough, ON) connected with fifth-year wide receiver Randy Roseway (Ottawa, ON) on a bomb to midfield, but the completion was negated by a holding call.
The Huskies trimmed the X-Men advantage to 3-2 on a conceded safety by punter Jeremy Ford (Halifax, NS).
The teams traded interceptions in the first quarter, with both defensive plays coming off deflections. Saint Mary's defensive back Clay Matthews-Reid (Oshawa, ON) picked off Cook, while StFX freshman linebacker Brandt Kolybaba (Lacombe, AB) did the trick against Trevor Erdmann (Ardrossan, AB).
"In the first half, we knew we were against the wind to start, so we tried to kind of keep it close and we were able to take a little bit of a lead," X-Men head coach Gary Waterman said. "We thought we could explode in the second quarter and we did; we jumped to a big lead."
In the second quarter, junior linebacker Daniel Tshiamala (Kinshasa, Congo) extended the X-Men edge with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. With a Heidebrecht point-after, StFX led 10-2.
On the ensuing kick-off, Heidebrecht booted a rouge to make it 11-2.
Dickson completed a seven-play, 95-yard drive with a 29-yard touchdown scamper. Another Heidebrecht point-after gave the X-Men an 18-2 lead.
After the X-Men pinned them deep in their own zone, the Huskies conceded a safety, making it 20-2.
With 34 seconds remaining in the first half, the Cook-Roseway duo combined on a 40-yard TD pass, with no penalty flag coming on this occasion. Heidebrecht booted the convert to make it 27-2.
Cook finished 15-for-25 for 179 yards, while Roseway led the X-Men receiving corps in yardage, with 52, on two catches.
Ten X-Men caught passes from Cook, with freshman Tyler Wilson (Edmonton, AB) leading the balanced offensive attack with three receptions, while collecting 33 yards.
On his eighth point of the game, Heidebrecht gave the X-Men at 28-2 halftime lead on his second rouge of the game.
In the third quarter, with the Huskies starting to rally, the X-Men stopped the visitors on second and third down from their own five yard line.
Unable to move the offense after the defensive stand, X-Men punter Ford took a knee for another safety, cutting the home team's edge to 28-4.
On their best drive of the game – five plays, 105 yards – the Huskies scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Erdmann to Rick LeMoignan (Edmonton, AB), who caught the ensuing pass for a two-point conversion, which brought Saint Mary's to within 16 points (28-12).
Erdmann finished 19-for-36 for 235 yards, while LeMoignan topped Saint Mary's receivers with six catches (59 yards) and D'Shawn Miller (Brampton, ON) amassed the most yardage through the air (61), on three receptions.
At 12:36 of the fourth quarter, the Huskies continued their comeback when Ideen Samadi booted a 22-yard field goal to make it 28-15 for the X-Men.
After the defense held, the Huskies attempted to build on their second-half momentum, but Kolybaba forced and recovered a fumble by Jacob Gesse (Laval, QC), who led the Saint Mary's rushing attack with 65 yards on 10 carries.
The X-Men capitalized on the turnover, with Heidebrecht converting from 26 yards to give his team a 31-15 lead and round out the scoring.
"At halftime, I talked to the kids about playing a complete game, and just mentally sometimes it is difficult for them – especially with some younger guys – to really understand that concept," Waterman said.
"We battled the wind again in the third quarter – that gave them some momentum a little bit, once they scored. We just never re-captured the momentum, but we did enough to win the game."
StFX outgained Saint Mary's 371-326 in total net yards, while holding a 22-17 edge in first downs.
Kyle MacDonald (Lower Sackville, NS) chipped in a forced fumble for the Huskies.
Along with his interception, forced and recovered fumble, Kolybaba led the X-Men with 7.5 tackles, while veteran defensive back Hayden Peters notched six tackles.
Kyle Forde (Toronto, ON) and John Tewelde (Winnipeg, MB) combined for the only sack of the game for either team.
The Huskies next face the Acadia Axemen on Friday, Oct.9th in a 7 p.m. evening match at Huskies Stadium in Halifax.
The X-Men will be back in action Saturday, Oct. 10, when they host the defending AUS champion Mount Allison Mounties. Opening kick-off is set for 2 p.m. at Oland Stadium.