By Michael Boriero
A couple of late turnovers and a missed scoring opportunity in the first half proved to be crucial factors in this year’s Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Loney Bowl, as the Bishop’s University Gaiters football team lost 25-17 to the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men.
The Gaiters left everything on the field, but it wasn’t enough to overcome an undefeated X-Men squad, according to head coach Chérif Nicolas, who brought the university to its first Loney Bowl appearance back in 2019, where they also lost to St. Francis Xavier.
“The guys played their hearts out, I’m proud of them, and now we know we need more, we have to do more to win a championship and that’s what 2022 is going to be about, finishing and finishing on top,” said Nicolas.
It was a veritable chess match in the first half, as the X-Men and Gaiters flexed their muscles on defense. Bishop’s held a vaunted St. Francis Xavier offense to just three field goals, while the X-Men kept the Gaiters to zero points. The score was 9-0 X-Men at the half.
Nicolas told The Record that his team missed a golden opportunity to cut into the lead at the end of the second quarter. But the Gaiters finally managed to break through in the third quarter with a touchdown from running back Maxime Bouffard, his first of two on the day.
Bishop’s grabbed the lead a few minutes later, jumping ahead 10-9 off a team safety and subsequent rouge point. However, it proved to be their own lead of the game. The X-Men went on to score 16 unanswered points to seal a back-to-back championship title.
While it was a disappointing result, Nicolas is confident in his team’s depth and ability to return to the Loney Bowl. It was a hard season, he reflected, and a few close games could have gone either way. The Gaiters will now take a much-needed break from training and practice.
“Well I think the guys that we have in the program right now I think the important thing for them is to focus on school and make sure that they’re up to date and ready for that final stretch here as we get into the end of the semester going into the holidays,” said Nicolas.