Vernon Panthers runningback Kolby Thorpe (10) keeps an eye on Prince George tackler Ben Esopenko during Vernon’s 35-14 win over the Polars in B.C. High School Senior Varsity AA wildcard playoff action Saturday, Nov. 13, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove photo)

Vernon Panthers runningback Kolby Thorpe (10) keeps an eye on Prince George tackler Ben Esopenko during Vernon’s 35-14 win over the Polars in B.C. High School Senior Varsity AA wildcard playoff action Saturday, Nov. 13, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Darren Hove photo)

Vernon Panthers pounce on Polars’ miscue

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Late third-quarter fumble recovery turns momentum, propels Cats to 35-14 win over Prince George

One Prince George team down. Another coming up.

The two-time reigning B.C. AA Subway Bowl High School Football senior varsity champion Vernon Panthers began their quest for a three-peat Saturday, Nov. 13, against the Prince George Polars at Greater Vernon Athletic Park.

The Cats escaped the opening round of the playoffs with a 35-14 win over the Polars, advancing to the quarterfinals against the Interior Conference’s No. 1 team, the Duchess Park Condors. The game will be played in Prince George Saturday, Nov. 20, at 11 a.m.

The play of Saturday’s game came with Vernon leading 21-14 midway through the third quarter, and the game still in question.

Panthers’ defensive end Mats Friesen came up with a game-changing strip at the end of a 50-yard run as the Polars were looking to tie the game. Friesen striped the ball carrier, quarterback Jason Kraft, at the five-yard line and the ball bounced into the end zone where safety Justin Ruscheinsky pounced on it.

The Panthers never looked back and put 14 straight points on the board to seal the win.

“This was a very physical team that had a good offensive game plan coming in,” said Panthers head coach Sean Smith. “They chewed up large chunks of time and played ball possession football. It worked for the better part of three quarters until we found our groove.

“I was very proud of our offensive linemen and receivers who did a great job blocking in the run game today. We ran outside and picked up large chunks of yards which sparked us.”

With starting tailback Scotty Hoffman out due to injury, the duo of Joe Murphy and Kolby Thorpe picked up the slack. Murphy tallied nine carries for 95 yards (including a 40-yard touchdown romp) while Thorpe picked up 6o yards on 10 carries.

“This wasn’t a pretty win for us – but we are advancing to the quarterfinals which is all that matters right now,” said Smith. “I liked that we were able to play smash mouth football on both sides of the ball.”

• The Vernon Panthers’ junior varsity squad hosts the Westsyde Blue Wave of Kamloops in playoff action Wednesday, Nov. 17, at GVAP. Kick-off is 2 p.m.

Fans are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the Vernon Food Bank.

SCORING

1st quarter

Panthers 7 PG 6

2nd quarter

Panthers 14 PG 14

3rd quarter

Panthers 28 PG 14

FINAL

Panthers 35 PG 14

SCORING SUMMARY

1st Q

40 yd td run Joe Murphy (convert good). 7-0

PG TD (extra point no good). 7-6

2nd Q

1 yd td run by Braden Khunkhun (convert good) 14-6

PG TD (2 point convert good). 14-14

3rd Q

2 yd td run by Kolby Thorpe (convert good) 21-14

1 yd td run by Murphy (convert good) 28-14

4Q

5 yd td run by Roan Reid (convert good) 35-14

CATS STATS

RUSHING

Joe Murphy 9 for 95 yards – 1 td (40 yds)

Kolby Thorpe 10 for 60 yds – 1 td (2 yds)

PASSING

Jake Farrell 5 of 5 for 37 yds

READ MORE: Seniors pace Vernon Panthers past Rutland

READ MORE: The Vernon pipeline to U of Calgary



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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