Round 1 in the Battle of Vernon goes to the gang on the hill.
The Vernon Panthers got on top early, scoring 35 unanswered first-half points and cruising to a 35-7 Interior AA Senior Varsity High School Football Conference exhibition win over their crosstown rivals, the Fulton Maroons, Friday, Oct. 7, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park.
On what was termed White Out Night, with Panther fans decked out in white shirts, and the team wearing all-whites, the Cats got on the board quickly scoring three majors on their first seven offensive plays.
Braden Khunkhun hit Mitchell Bond on a 56-yard bomb on the game’s opening play and Joe Murphy finished off the drive on the ensuing run play to make it 7-0. Murphy would score his second of three majors on their next offensive play following a 42-yard run to the end zone.
Scotty Hoffman was on the receiving end of a 20-yard touchdown pass from Khunkhun to cap their third major of the quarter. The Panthers would add two more in the second stanza with Mitchell Bond (four catches for 99 yards) on the receiving end of an 18-yard TD receptions, while Murphy tallied his third of the night with a 38-yard run to give the home team a 35-0 lead heading into the break.
Murphy cracked the 100-yard barrier, finishing with 108 yards on five carries.
“I thought we came out of the gates strong and played faster than we’ve played in previous games,” said Panthers head coach Sean Smith. “This was the first game we’ve been able to execute our game plan on both sides of the ball for four quarters which was encouraging.”
Khunkhun finished 5-11 through the air for 152 yards and the three majors. Backup Elijah Warner was 2-2 for 26 yards.
Defensively, the Panthers were able to hold Fulton’s ground game in check, and despite giving up a touchdown in the second half, were able to limit them offensively.
Jentezen Peterson scored the Maroons’ lone touchdown in the second half on a two-yard run. He finished the night with 95 yards rushing on 23 carries.
“Full credit to Vernon, they dismantled us in all four phases of the game – coaching, offence, defence and special teams,” said Fulton head coach Mike Scheller. “Coach Smith has put together a great looking squad that is well-oiled and fast. They are big and play with great intensity. They definitely are a contender for the provincial title this year and they prove it weekly. They whipped us.”
Terry Johnson led all Vernon tacklers with 5.5 and a sack, and nose tackle Jace Collard added 4.5 tackles and sack of his own.
Peterson also caught two balls from quarterback Brad Scabar. Leon Defauw led the Maroons defensively with six tackles while Dom Kitzman added five and Griff Morrier chipped in four.
Round 2 of the Battle of Vernon will take place on Friday, Oct. 21, a regular-season contest at 7 p.m., with the Maroons the home team at GVAP.
“I fully expect Fulton will make some adjustments and will give us all we can handle in two-weeks time in the rematch,” said Smith. “We will have two weeks to prepare, but will have to practice well since we have a bye next weekend. One area we need to clean up on is penalties. We had six penalties for 65 yards which is not acceptable.”
The Maroons will begin their regular season in Salmon Arm Friday, Oct. 14, against the Golds.
• In Junior Varsity action, the VSS Panthers rolled to a 49-0 romp over the Salmon Arm Golds at GVAP while at Grahame Park, the Fulton Maroons took care of the visiting Pleasant Valley Saints of Armstrong 42-13.
Gabe Adam threw three touchdowns for the Maroons, two of 29 and 15 yards to Lucas Horne, and a 24-yarder to Carter Moore, who also added a 70-yard punt return for a major. Adam was 7-11 for 135 yards. Reid Williamson scored on both sides of the ball, rushing 60 yards for one Fulton TD, part of his 133 yards gained on the ground, and returning an interception 29 yards to the end zone.
Williamson led the defence with seven tackles.
VSS will play PVSS and the Maroons take on Salmon Arm. Both games are in Salmon Arm Thursday, Oct. 13.