(HALIFAX, N.S.) The StFX X-Men are the 2018 AUS Loney Bowl champions after defeating the Saint Mary's Huskies 33-9 in wet, rainy conditions Saturday afternoon at Saint Mary's Huskies Stadium.
A 21-point fourth quarter sealed the victory for the X-Men who captured their third conference championship in the past four years and 14th in team history.
The opening quarter saw StFX with the majority of possession, resulting in an early 10-0 lead. Keiran Burnham (Cambridge, Ont.) kicked a 32-yard field goal five minutes in, and after a seven-drive play, X-Men quarterback Bailey Wasdal (Calgary, Alta.) ran in a short one-yard major 10 minutes later.
The X-Men added to their lead when SMU conceded a safety early in the second quarter. The only other scoring came off a 25-yard Brian Hope (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) field goal for the Huskies on the final play of the quarter.
StFX held a 12-3 lead at halftime.
The wet conditions made for a fumble from each squad early in the third quarter but neither turnover resulted in any scoring opportunities. One was a blocked punt by the Huskies who put pressure on X-Men kicker Burnham throughout the game, though Burnham was able to recover the ball.
StFX maintained their nine-point lead after a scoreless third quarter. X-Men linebacker Ben VonMueldorfer (Calgary, Alta.) had a key fumble recovery late in the quarter after an Alex Fedchun (Calgary, Alta.) sack on Huskies quarterback Kaleb Scott (Mount Albert, Ont.).
The fumble resulted in favorable field position for the X-Men to start the final quarter and after failing to make a first down, they set up for a 19-yard field goal attempt. In a nifty fake, place holder Josh Millar (Ottawa, Ont.) pitched the ball to running back Gregg Anderson (Sharon, Ont.) who ran it in for StFX's second touchdown score of the afternoon as the visitors took a 19-3 lead at the 13:18 mark of the game.
The X-Men sealed the win with 6:32 left to play after veteran fifth year defensive back Dylan Bell (Brockville, Ont.) picked off a Scott pass and ran it in 46 yards for a defensive touchdown score.
Wasdal had another short two-yard run late in the quarter to increase the StFX lead to 33-3. With the game in hand, the X-Men allowed a Huskies touchdown with just over a minute left to play. Scott converted a five-yard pass to Shedler Fervius (Toronto, Ont.) but their two-point conversion attempt failed.
Socholotiuk, with 34 carries for 179 yards was honoured as the Subway AUS Loney Bowl most valuable player. When asked what made the difference in the game the AUS all-star running back commented, "I think it was just our mentality in pushing through the entire game and playing the football we've been playing all year."
"This game means a lot to us, obviously SMU is a big rival so to come in and win on their field is big. We started the season a little bit soft then we came out and really played what X football is all about."
The X-Men used the ground attack for the majority of the game as Wasdal only threw eight passes for six completions and 90 total yards. Isaac Fagnan (Bonnyville, Alta.) caught three for 48 yards and Kaion Julien-Grant (Toronto, Ont.) caught the other three for 42 yards.
For the Huskies, Scott was 19 for 33 for 208 yards. His top receiver was Fervius with eight catches for 83 yards. On the ground, Jonathan Cimankinda (Ottawa, Ont.) had five carries for 47 yards and Tyrique Dixon-Bowden (Halifax, N.S.) was 7-42.
On the defensive side of the ball Jerek Richards (Montreal, Que.) led the Huskies with nine tackles. Jeremy Fagnan (Bonnyville, Alta.) had 9.5 tackles for the X-Men and Fedchun had 8.5.
With the win the X-Men advance to the U SPORTS national semifinal Uteck Bowl against the RSEQ champion Laval Rouge et Or. The game will be hosted by Laval in Quebec City next Saturday, Nov. 17.
Source: StFX Athletics Communications