Vernon Panthers' running back Joe Murphy carried 20 times for 129 yards and two TDs in Saturday's playoff win over Duchess Park. (Photo by Darren Hove property of photographer 2021. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Football

Vernon Panthers roar back from early deficit to topple Duchess Park Condors in Subway Bowl AA North/Interior semifinal clash!

(Note, Triple A game reports will not be published until later on this evening due to prior broadcast commitments)

The Vernon Panthers advanced to what would normally have been the team’s fifth straight B.C. high school Subway Bowl B.C. AA semifinal.

And although those plans were scuttled earlier this week after a decision to play a regional format due to flooding cast the Panthers in a four-team Northern/Interior format, the team’s 31-7 triumph over the host Duchess Park Condors on Saturday in Prince George now tickets them to a championship game in two week’s time.

Afterwards, however, Vernon head coach Sean Smith characterized the Panthers’ playoff situation as being “…in flux due to the recent BCSS ruling that Northern/Interior teams will be playing their own regional playoffs.

“We are evaluating our options as a program right now and are hoping that BCSS rethinks their structure and allows us to participate in the dome like all of the rest of the ‘regional championship participants,’” said Smith after the game.

On the field of play, Duchess Park put their major score on the board first for a 7-0 lead, and Vernon followed with all of its points in unanswered fashion.

Jake Farrell scored the Panthers first major on a two-yard quarterback sneak, but a missed extra point kept the Condors in the lead.

Joe Murphy, a converted receiver beginning to find his stride, gave Vernon its first lead on a 19-yard TD plunge and the subsequent two-point covert pass from Farrell to Roan Reid made it 14-7 at half.

Murphy would run 20 times on the game for 129 yards for two touchdowns.

“Duchess had some early success running against us. (Matayas Mocilac) was a load and it took a while for our guys to realize they couldn’t arm tackle him,” Smith said of a key Condor. “They dictated the game early and forced us to put more guys in the box than we normally would.”

The Panthers burst the game open in the second half ,capitalizing on some Duchess miscues. Reid put the Panthers up by 14 on an 18-yard scoring catch from Farrell

In the fourth, Mitchell Bond hit a field goal and Farrell ran in his second of the day to put the game out of reach.

“We continue to make a lot of mistakes, and that is getting in the way of us running efficient offense,” said Smith. “The good news is that despite it being late November, we still have a lot of room to grow as a team. We got really thin at a number of positions due to injuries. However, I thought that we didn’t drop our level of play. Guys like Justin Ruscheinsky and Jordan Loxam stepped in and did a great job.”

Reid led all tacklers with 10.5 stops to go along with an interception while Interior Defensive Player of the Year Grayson Statham contributed six tackles.

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