Last Play Heroics Give Rams Win Over Vancouver College in Varsity Opener

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Mt. Doug Rams receiver Josh Lucas (10) celebrates his first quarter touchdown Friday against Vancouver College. Lucas would score on the final play of the game as well to give the Rams a 33-28 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

September 23, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Mt. Douglas Ram’s receiver Josh Lucas hauled in a 40-yard pass from quarterback Gideone Kremler on the very last play of the game to give the Rams a thrilling 33-28 victory over the Vancouver College Irish in BC High School Football Varsity action Friday afternoon at Mt. Douglas Field in Victoria.

Rams receiver Josh Lucas (right) eludes the tackle of Vancouver College defender Nathan Hawes (28) during Friday's action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Rams receiver Josh Lucas (right) eludes the tackle of Vancouver College defender Nathan Hawes (28) during Friday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Lucas’s reception, in double coverage, broke the hearts of the Irish, who overcame a 21-6 halftime deficit to take a 28-27 lead with just over four minutes to play.  Also heartbreaking for the Irish, was that on the play immediately prior to the touchdown, the Irish had what appeared to be a game-saving interception called back because of a defensive holding penalty that gave the Rams one last chance with six seconds remaining on the clock.

Rams quarterback Gideone Kremler (1) was pressured continuously Friday and had to make many throws while on the run (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Rams quarterback Gideone Kremler (1) was pressured continuously Friday and had to make many throws while on the run (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

It was a chance they would not squander and the #4 ranked Rams served notice to the #1 ranked Irish that their 34-17 win over the Irish in last season’s Subway Bowl Championship was no fluke and served notice to those who rank high school football teams in the Province that the Rams (now 4-0 overall) perhaps deserved better than their #4 ranking heading into the opener.

Vancouver College defender Nick Fawcett (23) goes up to break up this pass intended for Rams receiver Connor Clarke (15) during Friday's action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Vancouver College defender Nick Fawcett (23) goes up to break up this pass intended for Rams receiver Connor Clarke (15) during Friday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“This was a game for the ages, and both teams deserve full credit,” noted Rams Head Coach Mark Townsend. “The players from Vancouver College played a terrific game, especially in the second half. Similarly, our kids showed a lot of fortitude and resilience to give themselves one last opportunity. The defense came up with a huge stop, then moments later Gideone threw a perfect pass and Josh made a remarkable catch”.

Vancouver College quarterback Jacob Samuels (18) gets set to hand off to back Michael Le (3) during Friday's game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Vancouver College quarterback Jacob Samuels (18) gets set to hand off to back Michael Le (3) during Friday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The defensive stop Townsend is referring to came with just over 1:30 to go when the Irish had an opportunity to run out the clock after getting the ball back on a clutch interception by Aidan Ellis,  but a huge third down and five stop gave the Rams the ball back with 1:25 to play, setting the stage for the last-second heroics.

Rams quarterback Gideone Kremler drags one Irish defender with him, while preparing for a hit from Matthew Punzalan (94) during Friday's action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Rams quarterback Gideone Kremler drags one Irish defender with him, while preparing for a hit from Matthew Punzalan (94) during Friday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Lucas’s reception was his second touchdown reception of the day, the first coming on a 26-yard strike from Kremler that opened the scoring and gave the Rams a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Vancouver College running back Isaiah States (4) uses his lineman for leverage as he tries to avoid the tackle of the Rams Soren Hallschmid (54) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Vancouver College running back Isaiah States (4) uses his lineman for leverage as he tries to avoid the tackle of the Rams Soren Hallschmid (54) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After a 67-yard running score by the Irish’s Michael Le cut the score to 7-6 early in the second, a 7-yard scramble by Kremler and 2-yard plunge by running back Ben Pierik would give the Rams what appeared to be a comfortable 21-6 lead heading into the half.

The Irish would not fold however and their running game began to operate at full steam following the break, with Alfred Dela Cruz rambling 42-yards for a score to make it 21-13 Rams at the end of three.

Rams quarterback Gideon Kremler would scamper into the end zone for a pair of scores in the win against Vancouver College on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Rams quarterback Gideon Kremler would scamper into the end zone for a pair of scores in the win against Vancouver College on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After Kremler would get his second score of the game on a two-yard run to make it 27-13 early in the fourth, Dela Cruz would strike two more times, the first from five yards out, the second from three yards out, which, followed by a two-point conversion run from Le, gave the Irish the late 28-27 lead and set the stage for exciting finish to the game.

Vancouver College kick returner Alfred Dela Cruz (7) is upended on this play by the tackle of Rams defender Isaiah Cardilicchia (12) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Vancouver College kick returner Alfred Dela Cruz (7) is upended on this play by the tackle of Rams defender Isaiah Cardilicchia (12) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Offensively the Rams were led by Kremler, who frequently used his speed and scrambling abilities to get out of trouble, as well as by the receiving of Lucas, who in addition to his game-winning catch, had other fine moments Friday.  Running back Pierik also had another strong game, powering through Irish defenders when called upon.

Defensively Soren Hallschmid had a massive game and led the Rams with 7 tackles, followed by Quinn Jenish with 6. Tyrese Hogue, Hayden Naylor and Josh Lucas had  4 tackles each. Phil Grohovac had a fumble recovery and Naylor had an interception.

Rams running back Ben Pierik (2) was in his usual beast mode Friday and rushed for one of the Rams scores (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Rams running back Ben Pierik (2) was in his usual beast mode Friday and rushed for one of the Rams scores (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For Vancouver College, Le finished with 19 carries for 166 yards while Dela Cruz had eight carries for 78 yards.  On defence, Jaxin DaRoza led the way with 13 tackles while Eddie Gonzalez followed with 11.

The Varsity Rams enjoy a bye week next weekend and then return home Friday October 7 to host the crosstown Belmont Bulldogs in a 3:30 pm start at Mt. Doug Field.

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