(SACKVILLE, N.B.) The Mount Allison Mounties kicked off the 2018 AUS regular season with a 36-22 win over the visiting Bishop's Gaiters at Alumni Field on Saturday afternoon.
After a tentative start to the game that saw the visiting Gaiters leading 2-0 late into the first half, the Mounties delighted the energetic hometown crowd with the game's first touchdown just before half time.
Starting from their own 20-yard line, the Mounties took five minutes to drive the field as senior quarterback Troy Downton marched his offence down the field. With eight seconds remaining in the first half Downton found senior Chris Reid who made a dramatic one-handed catch before scampering to the end zone from 15 yards out to give the Mounties a 7-2 lead.
Bishop's responded quickly in the third quarter, with a 72-yard drive for their first touchdown of the day. The Gaiters used a little trickery as Stephen Casey hit Roberto Jimenez for a 32-yard strike. The Gaiters missed on the two-point covert but took the lead 8-7.
The hometown Mounties would retake the lead before the end of the third quarter, as Reid found the end zone for the second time. After Mount Allison converted on a fake punt where punter Graham Kelly hit Nate Rostek for a nine-yard completion, the Mounties kept moving with a 32-yard completion from Downton to Josh Hicks at the Bishop's one-yard line. From there, Reid capped off the drive with a one-yard score to give the Mounties a 14-8 lead.
On the second play of the fourth quarter receiver Malik Richards took a reverse 30 yards to find the end zone and to extend the Mounties lead. After freshman kicker James Parker converted the extra point and then kicked the ensuing kickoff through the end zone, the Mounties found themselves in front 22-8.
Bishop's responded quickly, as they marched 75 yards on their next possession. The Gaiters found the end zone when Mathieu Demers hit Dashaun Smelie from 17 yards out to bring the score to 22-15.
With five minutes remaining in the game Downton threw his second touchdown pass of the day when he hooked up with Malik Richards for a 23-yard score. Mounties defensive back Skylar LeBlanc then extended the Mounties lead when he ran back a 52-yard interception for another Mounties touchdown.
With the score 36-15, Demers found Nathan Walker from 35 yards out on the second last play of the game to put another touchdown on the board for Bishop's but it wasn't enough as the game ended 36-22.
Subway AUS Player of the Game Chris Reid, who scored the game's first two touchdowns, led the Mounties offensively. With 109 rushing yards on the day, Reid now passes 2,500 yards for his career and moves into eighth place on the AUS career rush yards leaders list.
Mounties quarterback Troy Downton was 17 for 25 for 175 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Malik Richards had six catches for 78 yards and another 39 yards on the ground. Richards also had two touchdowns. On defence, Skylar Leblanc had the interception touchdown return to go along with 4.5 tackles. Junior Dylan Cormier had six tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss while AUS all-star Damian Halstead had five tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss.
For the Gaiters, quarterback Mathieu Demers was 23-33 for 267 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Receiver Nathan Walker led the way with 100 yards on six catches and one touchdown for Bishop's.
The Mounties (1-0) will now enjoy a bye week before returning to action when they host the Saint Mary's Huskies on Saturday, Sept. 8 at Alumni Field. Bishop's will host Saint Mary's this coming Saturday, Sept. 1.
Source: Mount Allison Sports Information