X-Men handle Axemen 38-7

Photo courtesy Nic Latulippe
Photo courtesy Nic Latulippe

Antigonish, N.S. - The first place and defending conference champion StFX X-Men (2-0) cruised to a 37-8 victory over the visiting Acadia Axemen (1-1) in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) football action Saturday afternoon.

The X-Men outscored the Axemen 27-1 in the second half to seal the win, in front of more than 2,000 fans at StFX Stadium.

Junior running back Jordan Socholotiuk (Fort McMurray, AB), the Subway player of the game, led the X-Men offense with 155 yards on 24 carries, running behind a stellar offensive line.

X-Men head coach Gary Waterman commented, "I was happy how we rebounded in the second half. I thought we played hard in the first half but we were making mistakes – focusing and concentration mistakes. I challenged the guys to concentrate harder and focus on their assignments and I thought they did a better job in the second half."

"We still had too many penalties but we're happy to win a game, I was happy the guys played the full 60 minutes." 

The X-Men opened the scoring on the first play of the second quarter, with a single point off a 35-yard missed field goal by sophomore Jonathan Heidebrecht (Camrose, AB).

On that drive, Kaion Grant (Toronto, ON) and Greg Nugent (London, ON) made big catches, while Socholotuik chewed up key yardage on the ground.

On the next Axemen possession, linebacker Adam Kuntz (Camrose, AB) stuffed the rusher for no gain, on second-and-one, which forced the visitors to punt.

After a two-and-out by the X-Men offense, the defense went back to work - led by lineman Kyle Forde (Ajax, ON) - who sacked Axemen quarterback Nicholas Bynkoski. The sack by Forde was his first of three in the opening half.

Heidebrecht capped the next StFX possession with a 12-yard field goal to make it 4-0 for the home side.

On an impressive three-play drive, the Axemen took their first lead - 7-4 - on a Eli Prochau (Cochrane, AB) major score, after he took a pitch from quarterback Nick Bynkoski (Duncan, BC).

The Axemen TD possession started with a 45-yard pass-and-catch between Bynkoski and Bradley Vince (Cambridge, ON). 

After fullback David Dean returned a short kick-off to the Axemen 51 yard line, the X-Men started another march, which culminated with a booming 46-yard field goal from Heidebrecht.

Forde the collected back-to-back sacks to force the Axemen to quickly punt it back to the X-Men.

With StFX looking to extend the lead, a touchdown pass from Cook to Dejuan Martin (Scarborough, ON) was negated by a penalty call.

A few plays later, after a defensive stand by the Axemen, including a sack by Gabriel Bagnell (Brookside, NS), the X-Men had to settle for a 17-yard Heidebrecht field goal to make it 10-7 - an edge they would take to the locker room at halftime.

The X-Men took a 10-point advantage early in the third quarter, with Cook putting the exclamation point on an eight-play, 76-yard drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak for the touchdown.

After the Heidebrecht extra point, the home team led 17-7.

On the kick-off, the X-Men placekicker boomed it through the end zone for a single point, giving the blue and white an 18-7 edge.

Defensive back Justin Holland (Parksville, ON) picked off Bynkoski to give the X-Men offense the ball, but the Axemen took it back, soon after, on an interception of Cook by Harland Hastings (Calgary, AB).

On the next Axemen offensive drive, starting from great field position, Forde and Kay Okafor (Enugu, Nigeria) combined on a sack, which forced a punt.

While tiptoeing along the out-of-bounds line, in the end zone, senior receiver Christian Ridley (Dubai, UAE) corralled an eight-yard TD pass from Cook. With another Heidebrecht point-after, the X-Men led 25-7. Socholotiuk keyed the attack with three runs in a row, which resulted in consecutive first downs, on the X-Men possession.

StFX stretched their advantage to 26-7, on another kick-off through the end zone by Heidebrecht.

Before the end of the third quarter, the placekicker tacked on another X-Men point, off a missed field goal.

On a field goal try by Brandon Jennings, who also plays defensive back for the Axemen, the visitors cut the X-Men lead to 27-8, with a single point. Jennings was selected as his team's player of the game.

The final X-Men major score came on a one-yard plunge by running back Albert Banahene (Calgary, AB), which capped off a five-play, 78-yard drive.

With the Heidebrecht extra point, StFX was up 34-8.

As Acadia tried to rally late in the game, the X-Men forced two turnovers on downs, with one coming off a combined tackle by Mete Konya (Osnabrueck, GER) and Tyler Cordeiro (Oakville, ON), on a third-and-short running play.

With less than two minutes left in regulation, Heidebrecht wrapped-up the scoring with a 35-yard field goal to make it 37-8.

On offense, the X-Men held a 26-14 edge in first downs, while outgaining the Axemen 451-210 in total offense.

Cook was 27-for-34, with 274 yards passing, with Martin the X-Men's top receiver with 11 catches for 129 yards.

Ridley and Grant snagged six catches apiece for 68 and 47 yards, respectively. Grant also chipped in eight punt returns for 82 yards.

Bynkoski completed nine out of 14 pass attempts, while collecting 136 yards through the air, with Cody Cluett (Cole Harbour, NS), in relief, going 4-for-12, with 10 yards.

Cameron Davidson (Kentville, NS) gained 101 yards, on 14 carries, to lead the Axemen, while Sabastian Robinson (Saskatoon, SK) with four, had the most catches, with Vince collecting the most yardage (48).

Defensively, Forde finished his monster game with a team-high 7.5 tackles to go with an incredible four-and-a-half sacks. Sophomore linebacker Gordon Whyte (Toronto, ON) contributed 6.5 tackles for the winners.

For the Axemen, fifth-year defensive back William Wojcik (Ottawa, ON) finished with a game-high 9.5 tackles, while Jennings collected seven.

The Axemen return to action Saturday, Sept. 17, when they host the CIS #1-ranked Montreal Carabins, in interlock action, in Wolfville, while the X-Men will travel to Montreal to face the Concordia Stingers.

Both games kick-off at 2 p.m. ADT.

The next home game for the X-Men is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1, when they host the rival St. Mary's Huskies on Homecoming Weekend.

Game time is 2 p.m.