VANCOUVER — Heartbroken in October, hearts afire in December.
The game is full up incredible ups and downs and for Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, the entire emotional spectrum of its 2017 campaign can be summed up by its two games against the arch-rival Vancouver College Fighting Irish.
It was back on Oct. 12 at Tweedsmuir when the Irish rolled out to a 28-0 lead, only to have the Panthers come back to lead 29-28 in the dying stages.
“But with no time left,” said Tweedsmuir co-head coach Leon Lilley, “they broke one to score and win.”
If you’re getting the idea that Saturday’s Subway Bowl AAA junior varsity B.C. final against the same Fighting Irish had a different ending from a Tweedsmuir perspective, you’re right.
Running back Colton Cameron twice answered Vancouver College touchdowns with rushing majors of his own, and Jackson Cornell booted a key late field goal with 2:02 remaining as the Panthers went on to repeat as Subway Bowl AAA B.C. junior varsity champions with a 23-13 win over the Fighting Irish at B.C. Place Stadium.
“This is unbelievable,” continued Lilley. “We said right from the beginning that we knew we had the type of kids to do this, and the goal from the first day of camp was to win a title. Anything less with this group of kids would have been unacceptable. The kids bought in and from Day 1 we went for it.”
The contest, however, turned out to be an early defensive standoff.
Tweedsmuir, in fact, led 7-0 at the half, the lone score coming on a 13-yard run in the opening quarter by quarterback Terrell Jones.
Early in the third quarter, Irish quarterback Jason Soriano hit receiver Joshua Lum-Tong on an 85-yard pas-and-run play, with Lum-Tong gaining speed as he roared 60 yards down the sidelines after the catch to tie the game 7-7.
Soriano, however, suffered a leg injury soon after and was forced to leave the game before later returning as a receiver.
Cameron’s five-yard rushing touchdown made it 14-7 Tweedsmuir, but the Irish rallied when Sahil Sandhu caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Alexander Nyvlt.
The PAT was blocked to make 14-13 for Tweedsmuir.
Cameron would then put the game away with a 48-yard touchdown run with 8:03 remaining.
Although the ensuing PAT was also missed, the Panthers were able to make it 23-13 on the late field goal, one which came after 6-foot-4 Malik Naherny first batted then intercepted an Irish pass deep in the red zone.
“All year long, Colton Cameron has been our best football player,” said Lilley. “He’s a fantastic captain and he’s sneaky good. He is one of those guys that hardly talks but makes plays. He is the most coachable player I’ve had in my 21 years of coaching.”
The victory marked a banner year of football at Tweedsmuir. Its Grade 8 team lost in Saturday’s Quadra Cup final, and its senior team advanced to the quarterfinals of the AAA senior varsity Subway Bowl draw.
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