Mounties lose but healthy heading into semifinals

Jody Jewers
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SACKVILLE, N.B. - In a way, both teams were winners in Saturday's Atlantic University Sport football regular-season finale at MacAulay Field.
The Acadia Axemen actually won the game, 28-25 over the Mount Allison Mounties, and avoided a winless season. Mount Allison, already looking ahead to next week's semifinal against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men, used everyone that dressed and suffered no apparent major injuries.
"We're OK health-wise, as far as I know," Mounties head coach Kelly Jeffrey said. "The kids are excited for next week. We played with a limited package on offence, not showing too much, but our kids played hard."
A win would've equalled Mount Allison's best finish since 1999, when the Mounties were 3-5. Several players, most notably receiver/return specialist Gary Ross - who finished one catch shy of the AUS single-season record - did not dress so they could rest for the playoffs.
Starting quarterback Kelly Hughes lasted until his team's first series of the third quarter, and came out with the teams tied 20-20. Hughes put a capper on a possible Hec Crighton Trophy nomination as the nation's most outstanding player with 164 yards passing and 92 yards rushing Saturday. Hughes finished as the AUS leader in passing yards (1,870) and passing touchdowns (11), as well as second in rushing yards (616).
"I would've played the whole game if I could've," Hughes said. "But a lot of guys got experience and we might need that down the road.
"Truthfully, I don't care about (a Hec Crighton nomination). I just want to win the title in this conference."
Matthew Pickett scored touchdowns on runs of nine and five yards for the Mounties, who led 14-13 at halftime. Aaron Molnar caught a 32-yard TD pass from Hughes, and Olivier Eddie booted a pair of converts and a 22-yard field goal. Mount Allison also benefitted from a conceded safety. Acadia held a 437-423 advantage in total offence.
The Mounties (2-6) visit the X-Men (4-4) this Saturday at Oland Stadium in Antigonish. Game time is 1 p.m. The winner heads to Halifax on Nov. 8 to play the Saint Mary's Huskies (7-1) for the AUS championship.

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport, 20-20

Geographic location: Oland Stadium, Antigonish, Halifax Saint Mary

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