Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
December 3, 2016, Vancouver, BC (ISN) – The Mt. Douglas Junior Varsity Rams fell into a 17-0 hole and despite a pair of late, second half touchdowns, were unable to pull off the complete comeback, dropping a 17-14 decision to the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers in the BC High School Football AAA Junior Varsity Championship game Saturday at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.
The Rams, who were looking to earn their first Subway Bowl title at the JV level since 2010, started strong, as they took the opening possession on their 20 yard line and then watched as Sam Mosky rambled 43 yards to the Panthers 37 on the first play from scrimmage.
A few plays later, the Rams were knocking on the door at the Tweedsmuir 2-yard line, but a Gideone Kremler pass was picked off in the end zone by the Panthers Yosef Drysdale, who then returned it to the Rams 40-yard line, killing the Rams early threat in a big way.
That would be the last time that the Rams sniffed the goal line until late in the third quarter as the Tweedsmuir defence was able to contain the Rams running game and shut down Kremler and the Rams receivers, giving their own quarterback Trey Jones and his offence time to get on the board.
Tweedsmuir’s first score, came ironically enough thanks to a Jones’ interception. Jones had the Panthers driving for what appeared to be the opening score of the game late in the first quarter, but was picked-off on the 5-yard line by the Rams’ Connor Way. However Way was bumped slightly after taking a few steps and he fumbled the ball right back to the Panthers on the 9-yard line.
As the quarter turned, the Rams defence, to their credit, held and the Panthers settled for a short field goal to take the 3-0 lead early in the second quarter.
On the ensuing possession, the Rams took the ball on their own 28-yard line and had driven to the Panthers 48, when quarterback Kremler, who has been playing with a severely sprained MCL and dislocated knee-cap in his right knee – an injury suffered mid-way through the regular season – jammed that same leg awkwardly in the turf on a short running play and went down in a heap in obvious pain.
Kremler was replaced at pivot by Dante Carbone and he was promptly intercepted by the Panther’s Braden Hutchinson, who returned the ball to the Panther’s 33-yard line.
A sneaky reverse, plus a Rams’ personal misconduct penalty (one of many incurred by the Rams on the day) moved the ball to the Rams’ 15-yard line. After a procedure penalty, Tweedsmuir’s Jones would hook up with Jaden Simon on a 20-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers up 10-0 with just under four minutes to play in the half.
Mt. Doug would have one more opportunity before the half to get on the board, but a gritty Kremler, who returned to the game with a little more tape on the bulky knee-brace he has been wearing, threw his second interception of the day, killing the drive on the Panther’s 18-yard line and sending the teams to the half with Tweedsmuir leading 10-0.
The teams would battle hard in the third and it would be the Panthers who would strike again when the Panthers’ Bachuoch Michael would return a Rams punt to the Rams 33-yard line and shortly thereafter, Jones would hit Simon for another scoring pass, this time from 24-yards out, putting the Panthers up 17-0 with 3:00 to go in the quarter.
That score seemed to kick the Rams offence into gear and a less than mobile Kremler went to work, taking the ball on his 17-yard line and completing three key passes, one to Connor Way, one to Sam Mosky who took the ball inside the Panther’s 10 and then a 6-yard swing pass for a score to brother Zairech Kremler to finally get the Rams on the board with a minute to play in the third.
A successful two-point convert made the score 17-8 and finally gave the multitude of Rams fan who made the trip over on the ferry something to cheer about.
The Rams would continue to pressure the Panthers and would have another chance to score early in the fourth quarter after Kremler hit Zairech Kremler and Mosky with big gainers again, taking the ball down to the Panthers 6-yard line. A crucial false start penalty pushed them back further and after the Panthers’ defence held, the Rams attempted and missed a field goal try to come away with nothing on the drive.
They were not done there though. On the next possession, taking the ball on their own 10-yard line, Kremler would lead the Rams deep into Panthers’ territory once again, highlighted by a crucial third down pass to Sebastian Hanson that took the ball to the Tweedsmuir 27-yard line. A few plays later, Kremler would hit Connor Way with a scoring pass up the middle and the Rams, with the missed convert, had closed the gap to 17-14 with 1:34 to go.
The Rams would then attempt, to no one’s surprise, the onside kick and while they would recover it, the ball did not travel the required 10 yards and the Panthers took over on the Rams 34.
While the Rams looked like they might get a defensive hold and a slim chance to get the ball back, a crucial third-down run by the Panther’s Hutchinson took the ball to the Rams 12-yard line, but more importantly, gave them a new set of downs and allowing them to run out the clock and preserve their 17-14 win.
The Tweedsmuir win was the second Junior Varsity title for the title for the school, as they won at the AA JV level in 2005. The Rams meanwhile, who last won the JV title in both 2009 and 2010, settle for second place yet again, having lost the final in 2015 and 2011.