Lord Tweedsmuir’s junior varsity Panthers will play for the provincial championship after downing the Vancouver College Fighting Irish 21-6.
After a scoreless first half at Cloverdale Athletic Park Nov. 21, LT dominated the second half, punching in three touchdowns and holding VC to just six points.
Jay Roberts, LT head coach, smiled from ear to ear after the game. “It was a huge win for us,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Lord Tweedsmuir JV-Panthers put up 3 TDs on Van. College to move on to the AAA JV high school championship final Nov. 30 at B.C. Place. Final score: 21-6 pic.twitter.com/uCnxksuGkX
— Cloverdale Reporter (@CloverdaleNews) November 21, 2019
His team had to overcome a little adversity to begin the game after both his starting and back-up quarterbacks were unavailable because of injuries.
“We had to go right to our third-string QB,” noted Roberts. “We knew we had to run it out.”
He said his third-string quarterback is a great player, but he doesn’t have the game experience of the other starters.
In a scoreless first half, both teams fought like combatants in trench warfare—conquer a small patch of ground, concede a small patch of ground. Neither squad could muster any type of offensive and the first half ended 0-0.
“We decided to go full running game in the second half. Ground and pound. Squeak it out.”
The second-half started much like the first-half ended for LT—a short drive resulting in a punt.
On Vancouver College’s first drive of the second half, they were able to convert some key third and fourth down plays to keep their offense on the field.
They converted a 4th-and-1 on a quarterback sneak. Then they converted a 3rd-and-20 when College quarterback CJ Fahlke threw a 35-yard strike to Ty Benefield, establishing an Irish foothold firmly in Panther territory.
As in any football game though, someone has to make a play. That someone was LT’s linebacker/fullback combo-player Michael Ogbeiwi.
After a short run, and a batted-down pass, College threw a 10-yard dump toss over the middle on third down. That’s when Ogbeiwi snagged the football and rambled 60 yards back down the field for a TD.
“It was a big pick-six,” said Roberts. “When he caught it, he was gone and no one was going to catch him on that one.”
On defensive, Ogbeiwi was all over the field, too. If he wasn’t the player tackling a College runner on every play, he was the next man in.
“He’s an absolute Warrior,” Roberts said of Ogbeiwi.
It was a game-changing pick-six in every way: it switched the momentum into LT’s favour; it forced College to open up their play, exposing themselves to LT’s solid defense; and it forced College to gamble on plays they probably shouldn’t have.
In the fourth quarter, College strung a successful drive together, pushing LT deep into their own end on a pair of throws that moved this sticks both times.
Then, in a play that sealed the game, Jayden Martin picked off a short pass from the College QB on Lord Tweedsmuir’s own seven-yard line.
After a few short off-tackle carries by running back Reggie Elie, Ogbeiwi—playing fullback now—smashed through the College line, broke four tackles, and thundered 70 yards to the VC seven-yard line.
On the next play Jace Atkinson climbed a ladder to reel in a seven-yard touchdown pass, putting LT up 14-0.
VC counterattacked on their next possession after a moderate kickoff run-back. From their own 45-yard line, they moved the ball 53-yards down the field in a catch-and-run that ended on LT’s three yard-line. VC punched the ball in two plays later, but missed the convert, closing the gap to 14-6 with three minutes to go.
On their next possession, Elie ran through a massive hole on the back of an Ogbeiwi block and bounced into the end zone unscathed for a 30-yard TD trot.
“Mike [Ogbeiwi] and Reggie [Elie] are the heartbeat of this team,” said Roberts. “That’s our running game; that’s our middle linebackers.”
Roberts said this week his squad will focus on game prep and health.
“We’re going to get our practices in and we have to heal up a little bit,” he said. “A lot of guys are banged up right now. We just have to get healthy.”
The Panthers will face Victoria’s Mt. Douglas Rams in the JV provincial final. The Rams dumped Notre Dame 35-8 in the other semi. Kickoff is 11:45 a.m. Nov. 30 at B.C. Place.