To the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, a 31-20 victory over the W.J. Mouat Hawks meant more than just remaining undefeated.
A first-ever victory over the Abbotsford school that has lost just once during the regular season in each of the past four seasons was huge for a Panthers team in their fifth season in Senior AAA high school football.
“It’s one of the biggest wins in the history of our program,” said Thornton. “To beat Mouat was a big deal.”
The Panthers scored two quick touchdowns to put Mouat in a hole. On the first play from scrimmage, Jamel Lyles raced 85 yards for the first major score. He ran 55 yards for another score minutes later, on Tweedsmuir’s second offensive play of the game, for a 13-0 lead for the home side.
The Hawks scored their first major of the game in the second quarter, and tacked on a two-point convert to cut the difference to 13-8.
The Panthers stretched the lead to 25-8, then the Hawks began to rally late in the game. Two unconverted scores left the gap at 25-20, with momentum on the side of the visitors.
“We were have trouble moving the ball,” admitted Thornton.
The Panthers defense prevented a tying score, and the offense added a fifth major score to close out the scoring.
Lyles finished the game with 23 carries for 271 yards and four major scores, taking advantage of a stellar game played by the offensive line of Dalton Dietrich, Reece Russell, Austin Thornton, Andrew Diachuk and Hayden Hamilton. Connor McKay added the fifth major.
While the offense put up 31 points, turnovers were the deciding factor in a game played in very wet conditions.
“The big key was they turned it over five times, and we didn’t turn it over once,” said Thornton. “To not turn it over once in a high school game played on a rainy, muddy day was something else.”
“We were sloppy with the ball, but they were full marks for the win,” Hawks coach Denis Kelly said. “They were more physical than we were, and they adapted to the field conditions better than we did.”
With a 2-0 (won-loss) record after two games at home, the Panthers will play their next four games away from Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary. They will be in Burnaby tomorrow (Friday) for a game against the 2-0 St. Thomas More Knights.
In Senior AA play:
* The Frank Hurt Hornets improved to 1-1 in the Southern Conference of the B.C. High School Football Association after a 20-7 victory over the Hugh Boyd Trojans.
Bash Sise-Odaa rushed for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Rashon Loobie added one for the Hornets at Frank Hurt Secondary. Quarterback Josh Zivney threw for 60 yards and carried the ball for another 40. Alex Garcia, Goerdelon Gamez and Hamza Khan each had six tackles and a forced fumbles.
“Our play was okay, but we made too many mistakes in the red zone which could have led to a couple more scores,” said Hornets coach Duane Linnen. “I told the players we lack that killer instinct and by that I mean Hugh Boyd was tired and we didn’t take advantage of that, and if we want to make the playoffs we need to take advantage of teams when they are tired.”
The Hornets are at home again tomorrow against the Spectrum Thunder of Victoria. Spectrum fell 46-0 to the South Delta Sun Devils last Saturday in Victoria.
“We take no team for granted,” said Linnen. “They are a new team and have something to prove. They will come on our home field and play their hardest and will throw everything they have at us.”
* Playing a non-conference game at their home field in North Delta, the Seaquam Seahawks lost 48-6 to the Squalicum Storm of Bellingham. A late touchdown by Seaquam quarterback Josh Yanciw spoiled the shutout bid of the Storm.
The ‘Hawks are 0-1 in league play, and will be in Richmond Saturday to face Hugh Boyd.
* The Holy Cross Crusaders lost 35-7 to the Carson Graham Eagles in North Vancouver last weekend to fall to 1-1 on the season. The Crusaders are at home Saturday, hosting the 2-0 Sun Devils at 1:30 p.m. at Holy Cross high school.