(ANTIGONISH, N.S.) - The Acadia Axemen improved to 2-1 on the season with a 38-24 victory over the StFX X-Men (1-2) Saturday afternoon at Oland Stadium.
Subway player of the game Cody Cluett (Cole Harbour, N.S.) threw two touchdown passes to Cordell Hastings (Calgary, Alta.) and Eugene McMinns (Nassau, Bahamas) had a 94-yard punt return for the Axemen in a game that saw them lead from start to finish.
To open the game the X-Men were deep in the Acadia end on the opening drive but Axemen lineman Brady Switzer (Oakville, Ont.) forced a fumble on a Jordan Socholotiuk (Fort McMurray, Alta.) rush and the Axemen recovered to stop the potential scoring threat.
Another X-Men threat was thwarted late in the quarter as Jadin White-Frayne (Calgary, Alta.) intercepted a Josh Millar (Ottawa, Ont.) pass and returned the ball 53 yards to the StFX nine-yard line. That set up Acadia's first touchdown of the day as Cluett found Bradley Vince (Cambridge, Ont.) in the endzone with a nine-yard pass.
The Axemen held onto the 7-0 lead after the first quarter.
The Acadia defence came up big again in the second quarter as defensive back Garvin Cius (Malden, Massachusetts) had a pick-six at 6:33 as he intercepted a Millar pass and returned the ball 46 yards for the major score and a 14-0 lead.
The X-Men finally got on the board with 1:10 left in the second quarter as Jonathan Heidebrecht (Camrose, Alta.) kicked a 30 yard field goal.
The Axemen replied with a field goal of their own with no time left on the clock as Jarrett Saumure (Timberlea, N.S.) kicked a 24 yarder.
The visiting Axemen held a 17-3 advantage at half-time.
They increased their lead to 24-3 after Cluett hit Hastings with a 28-yard touchdown pass at 9:41 of the third quarter. Hastings took the pass and out-ran a pair of StFX defenders to take it down the sideline and into the corner of the end zone.
The X-Men mounted a third quarter comeback with a pair of touchdowns.
The first came off two key third down plays. Millar completed a 20-yard passing play to Greg McDonald (Halifax, N.S.) on third and three to move the ball to the Acadia 20-yard line. An Axemen pass interference call on third and five then set-up the X-Men at first and goal.
Dylan Fisher (Elginburg, Ont.) came in at QB and completed the one-yard touchdown pass for Kaion Julien-Grant (Toronto, Ont.) for his league-leading third touchdown of the season as the X-Men trailed 24-10.
Fisher then pulled the X-Men to within seven points as he squeezed in for a one-yard touchdown rush with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
The Axemen led 24-17 after three quarters of play.
Acadia receiver McMinns had a huge play on special teams as he attempted to put the game out of reach for the X-Men, scoring a touchdown on a 94-yard punt return.
With a 31-17 lead, the X-Men clawed back as Fisher scored another one-yard rushing touchdown, this one coming at 6:19 of the fourth quarter. Millar connected with Greg Nugent (London, Ont.) on a 32-yard reception to get the X-Men into good field position leading up to the major.
As they did all game, the Axemen responded with a scoring play of their own just as it looked like the X-Men may be clawing their way back into the game. They replied with a touchdown one minute later as Cluett connected with Hastings for his second major of the game, this time taking it 93 yards to the end zone as he broke a tackle and sprinted down the sideline.
With a 38-24 lead, the Axemen held on for the remainder of the game for their second win of the season, improving to 2-1. The X-Men fall to 1-2.
Cluett finished the game at 13 for 23 with 201 yards, while X-Men quarterback Millar was 23-44 for 273 yards and three interceptions.
Hastings led all Axemen receivers with 130 yards on three catches while McMinns also hauled in three catches for 29 yards and added 189 punt return yards and 49 on kick-off returns.
Dale Wright (Markham, Ont.) had 14 rushes for 97 yards for Acadia and Cam Davidson (Kentville, N.S.) had 80 yards on 16 carries.
X-Men leading rusher Jordan Socholotiuk battled a nagging injury in the second half but led the X-men with 96 yards on 19 carries. McDonald was the leading receiver with nine catches for 108 yards.
Leading the Axemen defense was Bailey Feltmate (Moncton, N.B.) and Brandon Jennings (St. Albert, Alta.) with 6.5 and 6 tackles, respectively. Defensive linemen Ben Wallace (Calgary, Alta.) and Aaron Bourdages (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) each had a sack.
Next on the schedule for the Axemen will be a game against the Saint Mary's Huskies on Friday night. Kick-off is 7 p.m. in Halifax. The X-Men head into a bye weekend and will next see action on Sept. 23 in Lennoxville, Que. against Bishop's.
The X-Men were without All-Canadian receiver Dejuan Martin (Scarborough, Ont.) who wasn't in the line-up due to an undisclosed injury. Linebackers Brandt Kolybaba (Lacombe, Alta.) and Ben VonMuehldorfer (Calgary, Alta.) were also out of the line-up.
Offensive lineman Keiler Cherry (Lloydminster, Alta.) was injured for the Axemen and left the game in the first quarter. Defensive back Connor Langen (Calgary, Alta.) was injured early in the third quarter and also did not return.
Source: Krista McKenna, StFX Athletics