SACKVILLE, N.B. – The Mount Allison Football Mounties face a big test on Saturday with the opportunity clinch home field advantage in the AUS semifinal next weekend.
The Mounties, who clinched a playoff spot last Saturday in Antigonish with a win over St. Francis Xavier, host the nationally-ranked and conference-leading Acadia Axemen at 2 p.m. at MacAulay Field.
“Right from the start of the season our goal has been to see improvement every game and we’ve seen that,” head coach Kelly Jeffrey said. “For a young team, it’s fun to be a part of. It’s frustrating at times, but to see the massive improvement from week to week has really been a neat thing to see.”
Mount Allison can clinch second place in the conference with a win. A loss, combined with a St. F.X. win over Saint Mary’s, will still give the Mounties home field in the semifinal.
Jeffrey wants to win home-field advantage without relying on someone else. To do that, the Mounties will have to control Acadia’s high-powered offence that has scored 184 points in seven games.
“You’re not going to shut them down, but if you can contain them and force them to make long drives you can have some success against them,” Jeffrey said. “To limit them we have to make sure we pin them deep in their own end.”
Acadia defeated the Mounties 30-6 in Wolfville on Sept. 29, jumping out to a 14-0 lead at the half and adding 10 more points in the third quarter. Jeffrey said his players learned a lot about the Axemen in that game, just as they picked up a lot from St. F.X. and Saint Mary’s in their first games against those clubs.
“The first time we played St. F.X. and Saint Mary’s we learned tons of stuff that we were able to use the second time we played them. We have continued to get better from one meeting to the next,” Jeffrey said.
In last week’s win over the X-Men, special teams were key as the Mounties had a blocked field goal for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown. There was also an interception return that resulted in a touchdown.
“We didn’t have any offensive giveaways and we had two takeaways,” Jeffrey said. “We’re plus 10 on the season, when last season we were -20. When you hold onto the football you have a good chance of winning.”
It’s that effort Jeffrey looking for again this weekend.