Ten unanswered second-half points gave the visiting Vernon Magnums a 23-14 victory over Kelowna Grey as the Southern Interior Football Conference’s Peewee Division kicked off its 2020 season.
The Magnums avenged a double-digit exhibition loss to Grey the weekend prior.
Vernon elected to take the ball off the opening kickoff in hopes to get on the scoreboard first and setting an early tone. Quarterback Brock Warner took a shot on the first play from scrimmage, connecting with receiver Oliver Harkness for a 35-yard catch and run taking the Magnums immediately into scoring position.
From there, Vernon leaned on the offensive line anchored by big men Shaymus Waterstreet and Marcus Fraese and eventually capped off the drive with a five-yard plunge from Caden O’Dwyer, who finished the game with 60 yards rushing and nine tackles on defence.
The Magnums were able to force a turnover on a Kelowna fumble on the next series but failed to convert it for points as penalties stalled out a promising drive and ended up turning over the ball on downs. The offences were the story for the remainder of the first half and as both teams traded touchdowns and it was Kelowna Grey who went into the break with a 14-13 advantage.
The second half was all Vernon and led heavily by the defence who only gave up a single first down to Grey for the remainder of the game. Defensive end Josh Vanderberg was living in the Kelowna backfield and collected three sacks to go with his eight tackles, most of which netted negative yardage.
With Grey moving in the wrong direction Vernon took advantage of the momentum and Warner dropped another dime. hitting Harkness in stride for a 60-yard touchdown catch, giving him his second score of the day. Kelowna tried to respond but under pressure from the pass rush, the quarterback was picked off by Boston Ciccone who ran it back to the red zone where Warner converted it to points on a five-yard sneak. Warner completed four of six passes for 137 yards and Harkness added seven tackles and a sack to his impressive two-touchdown performance.
Next up for the Vernon squad is a Kamloops team who also started 1-0 after beating the Kelowna Green team late in the fourth quarter. The Magnums’ home opener kicks off at Saturday at 12 p.m. at Greater Vernon Athletic Park.