The Vernon Panthers rallied from a 10-point half-time deficit to defeat the Duchess Park Condors of Prince George 28-24 in junior varsity football playoff action Thursday in Kamloops.
Tailback Levi Nicholas opened the scoring on the first offensive play with a 67-yard touchdown run. However, three consecutive rushing touchdowns, including one in the final minute of the first half, gave the Condors an 18-8 lead at the break.
The second half saw John Garvie cap an eight-play, 50-yard opening drive by scoring on a one-yard QB sneak. The Condors responded quickly with a 10-play, 70-yard TD run to go up 24-16.
To close the third quarter, Garvie scored his second TD of the night when he called his own number on a quarterback boot from 16 yards out. A crucial missed two-point convert left the Panthers down by two heading into the final quarter.
Garvie hit receiver Kyle Ryder on a fourth-and-goal TD pass from 10 yards to give the Cats the lead with six minutes remaining.
“I am very proud of the way our boys responded to some adversity in the first half,” said Panthers’ head coach Sean Smith. “We had some key guys injured this week but didn’t look to use that as an excuse. Our formula for winning games is to create turnovers and mix that with a few big plays on offence.
“Today, we had four fumble recoveries (including a key one by Quinton Cantin) and two interceptions, and that was the difference in the game. We work on strip drills every day in practice, so it’s good to see the boys were able to see it transfer to the game.”
The Panthers head to Richmond to take on the No. 1 Hugh Boyd Trojans in round two playoff action (day and venue TBA).
Meanwhile, the Kalamalka Lakers bowed 48-0 to the Robert Bateman Timberwolves of Abbotsford in senior AA boys playoff action Friday night at B.C. Place.
Ben Cummings led the Timberwolves with a trio of rushing touchdowns.