Jack Creighton has been near-perfect lately. He’ll need more of that and then some on Friday night.
The sophomore quarterback has his Saint Mary’s Huskies on a five-game winning streak — throwing just one interception and 10 touchdown passes in the process — heading into a huge Atlantic University Sport football matchup with the St. Francis Xavier X-Men at 7 p.m. at Huskies Stadium.
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With first place and a bye to the Loney Bowl on the line, Creighton is hoping to keep things rolling and put an opening-weekend turnover-fest behind him. He tossed four interceptions and no TDs in a 24-19 road loss to the X-Men on Sept. 12.
“I want to protect the ball a little more than the last time we played them,” said the 6-foot-4 sophomore from Ottawa. “Four interceptions … I need to sit in the pocket a little bit more, be a little bit more patient, and pick ’em apart.”
The X-Men have intercepted opponents 14 times in six games, first in the AUS and second in the nation. Their ability to pick off Creighton in Week 1 overshadowed the fact the Huskies actually outgained them offensively by 164 yards.
Huskies head coach Steve Sumarah said his team didn’t “rise to the occasion” in Week 1, while the phrase “wakeup call” has been bandied about in reference to the loss.
“We maybe thought we were better than we actually were at the time,” said veteran receiver Carl Hardwick. “That next week in practice, everyone was humbled and we all had to look in the mirror and say, ‘How good are we?’ We had a great week in practice and have been rolling ever since.”
Creighton said there is “plenty of bad blood” between the two teams, a product of the Huskies beating the X-Men in back-to-back meetings in the Loney Bowl. The bottom line is, it’s two evenly-matched, nationally-ranked teams with 5-1 records meeting in as big a regular-season game as you can get.
“You can feel it in the air,” Sumarah said. “It’s becoming playoff time. Everything really matters and guys are starting to respond and recognize it’s time to turn up the heat.”