It wasn’t the start the St. F.X. X-Men were looking for as they look to defend their Atlantic University Sport (AUS) football conference title from last season, as well as 2015.
On the road in Halifax Aug. 25, the hometown St. Mary’s Huskies, led by the Subway player of game – quarterback Kaleb Scott – downed the X-Men 38-23.
The Huskies outscored the X-Men in each quarter of the game and took a 29-21 lead into halftime.
After producing a lot of offense in the first-half, the second really belonged to the defenses and SMU won that battle as well, as they won the low scoring second-half 9-2.
For St. F.X., fourth-year running back Jordan Socholotiuk had a strong game as he gained 171 yards, on 30 carries, while also recording two touchdowns; one on a six-yard reception and the second on a 21-yard scamper.
The X-Men defense was led by lineman Jimmie Cunningham who recorded six tackles (five solo and two assisted).
“It’s disappointing to not get the first victory but we have some positive things on tape we can take away and build on,” X-Men head coach Gary Waterman said.
He was asked about the shifting momentum in the first half which saw SMU continually answering positives by the X-Men offense with their own scoring drives.
“We scored on that first drive and we were feeling good about ourselves and then they came back and scored,” Waterman said about the half which, with only 2:01 to go, was a one-point game (22-21 SMU).
“It was definitely a game of momentum shifts and how you handle that and, to their credit, they were able to rebound after every time we, sort of, made a move; they were able to answer the bell. That was, really, the story of the first half.”
Waterman said his team, “with a lot of new players on the field,” played hard.
“The kids gave an effort, I thought we just made too many mistakes,” he said. “Against a good team, you can’t make those mistakes, it will cost you. So it’s some things to learn from … but I love the effort from our kids.”
Asked about a specific area of concern from the game, the veteran coach noted the routes his defensive players took on SMU ball-carriers.
“I thought our angles of pursuit, in general, in chasing down ball carriers, needed to be better,” he said.
“From a coaching perspective, we need to manage the game a little better. I thought our special team play was very good; our kicking and return game was very good.
“The only way they (players) are going to get better is through experience and I thought they did get a lot of chances to gain some of that experience which will benefit them going forward.”
Socholotiuk showed his experience as he continually exploited holes created for him by teammates as well as by his own running skills.
“Jordan had a heck of a game and day so our run game was good,” Waterman said. “There are positives, no question, we just can’t make such big mistakes. We have to play error-free football.”
The X-Men’s hope opener was Sept. 1 versus the Mount Allison University Mounties. Results were unavailable at press time.
They’re back in action at home this Saturday (Sept. 9), versus the Acadia Axemen. Opening kick-off is 2 p.m.