The St. Francis Xavier X-Men taught the Saint Mary’s Huskies an early lesson on the gridiron Saturday.
The X-Men shocked the defending champion and nationally-fourth-ranked Huskies 24-19 at Oland Stadium in Antigonish as the Atlantic University Sport football season got underway with a rematch of last year’s championship game.
Huskies head coach Steve Sumarah chalked up the loss to the X-Men’s strong play, Huskies turnovers, and a lack of mental focus in practice in the week leading up to the game.
“The guys were sort of laid back and very nonchalant about what was happening and it was kind of very disappointing when you get that in a game situation,” Sumarah said. “You wait eight months or nine months to get back on the field and we didn’t rise to the occasion.”
The Huskies outgained the X-Men by 164 yards. But five turnovers — including four interceptions thrown by sophomore quarterback Jack Creighton — were costly.
Steve Snyder tossed a 10-yard TD pass to Akeem Foster with 2:36 to go to lift the X-Men to victory.
“We had mental breakdowns and with mental breakdowns you get turnovers,” Sumarah said. “It didn’t matter that we outgained them. Turnovers are what cost games.”
Sumarah said Creighton showed progress from last season, particularly in the decision-making department, but said “it’s a work in progress with young quarterbacks.”
“If I were grading him, I would give him a B-minus,” he said.
The Huskies, who boasted the top rushing attack in the country last season, picked up just 139 yards on the ground. Much-ballyhooed rookie Tristan Jones had 23 yards on five carries.
Halifax’s James Green rushed for an X-Men touchdown, although he finished with just 27 yards on 12 carries.
The Huskies return to action next Saturday at 7 p.m. on the road against the Acadia Axemen, who thumped the Mount Allison Mounties 58-15 on the weekend.