Morning Star Staff
The South Kamloops Titans scored with under five minutes to play to stop the visiting Vernon Panthers 14-10 in Valley Junior Varsity Football League championship action Thursday.
The Panthers opened the scoring in the first quarter when a botched play resulted in a safety. After a Kamloops free kick, tailback Levi Nicholas took a handoff and went 62 yards to the end zone.
Quarterback John Garvie called his own number and ran in the two-point convert to make it 10-0 Panthers. Kamloops scored late in the second quarter on a 45 yard screen pass.
“We had a great start to the game,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith. “Our defence held for most of the first half and we couldn’t punch another one in to give us a bigger cushion. Levi had a great start and ran hard all game.”
After a scoreless, hard-hitting third quarter, the Titans took their first lead in the final minutes of the game. An eight-yard touchdown run gave the Titans the lead.
Despite getting the ball back twice in the final five minutes, the Panther offence couldn’t sustain a drive to put them ahead.
“We had a number of opportunities to win the game but couldn’t make a play when we needed one,” said Smith. “South Kam was a big, strong team that didn’t miss many tackling opportunities. As a result, we were only going to score if we executed perfectly.
“While we are disappointed in the loss, the coaches were happy with the improvement the team has made since our first meeting with South Kam (a 36-6 loss). We closed the gap considerably since the last time we played them, but unfortunately came up one play short.”
The No. 2 seed Panthers will take on the No. 1 seed from the North Region (Prince George Secondary) in the first round playoffs. Since Vernon doesn’t have an artificial turf field, the game will go in Kamloops Thursday (3 p.m.).