VANCOUVER — Jacob Kirk has already had some pretty cool moments at B.C. Place Stadium.
Like that time three years ago when his older brother Lucas quarterbacked the South Delta Sun Devils to the Subway Bowl B.C. Triple A championships at B.C. Place Stadium.
“I jumped over this fence,” he smiled, pointing to a barrier between the stands and field at the stadium on Saturday evening, “and I gave him the biggest hug. I can’t wait to do what he did this year.”
That would be to lead the current edition of the Sun Devils back to provincial high school football glory.
On Saturday, the younger Kirk showed he a lot of his older brother’s gridiron DNA pulsing through his veins.
With the No. 4 Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers trailing 25-17 and running a last-ditch play to salvage their season against the No. 3 Sun Devils in the Subway Bowl quarterfinals, Kirk pursued the pass and picked it off in front of the Panthers’ intended receiver with four seconds remaining to seal a win, save a season and keep his team’s championship dream alive.
“It was do-or-die,” said Kirk. “I saw the ball break in the air and I had to get it or my team was going to lose. I was doing everything I could for my team and now we get to take on New West again next week.”
Indeed, after absorbing a 63-16 drubbing at the hands of the No. 1 Hyacks on Nov. 3, the Sun Devils have done what they have needed to do to get a chance at a rematch, with the winner advancing to the Subway Bowl final.
On Saturday, the Devils got off to a quick start, thanks once again to sublime play of quarterback Michael Calvert and a much-improved South Delta defence.
Calvert threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes and ran for another in helping the Sun Devils race out to a 25-7 halftime lead.
He opened with a one-yard toss to Ben McDonald, and later in the opening quarter found Morgan Wolsey on a 10-yard scoring strike for a 12-0 lead.
Lord Tweedsmuir’s Derek Best, the AAA rushing leader, peeled off a 43-yard run to Sun Devils’ four-yard line to set up a score on the next snap from Grade 11 running back Braeden Hutchinson.
Calvert later scored on a two-yard run, capping a drive in which he hit Billy Matwichyna with a 37-yard pass to the two-yard line.
South Delta quarterback Andrew Kraft wrapped up the first-half scoring 4:38 from the break with a 10-yard touchdown run to make the score 25-7.
The Panthers came out to start the third quarter in a slingin’ mood, and quarterback Walter Dingwall promptly connected with a 25-yard TD strike to Jaden Simon, cutting the deficit to 25-14.
And although the Tweedy defence was at its best in the second half, blanking the Sun Devils over the final two quarters, the Sun Devils defence also had its moments, not the least of which was stopping the Panthers on fourth down from the South Delta four-yard line with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Tweedsmuir added a 35-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to make it 25-17, but were once again rebuffed on a fourth down at the South Delta 35-yard line with 6:35 remaining.
Sun Devils head coach Ray Moon made it very clear after the game that his team’s one-sided loss to New Westminster has been the team’s daily rallying point over the past two weeks.
“That was basically a rallying cry, and it’s like ‘OK, we want another shot at these guys,’” said Moon. “That was not our best game. We didn’t like that game.”
Tweedsmuir fought hard and played gutsy throughout, including Best, who was clearly injured and did everything he could to try to lift his team.
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