VSS Panthers’ running back Levi Nicholas (top) hangs on to the ball as he steamrolls Salmon Arm Golds’ defensive back Dillon Olson in Okanagan varsity football play Friday afternoon at Grahame Park.

VSS Panthers’ running back Levi Nicholas (top) hangs on to the ball as he steamrolls Salmon Arm Golds’ defensive back Dillon Olson in Okanagan varsity football play Friday afternoon at Grahame Park.

Vernon Panthers push past Salmon Arm Golds

Vernon Panthers stop Salmon Arm Golds 37-12 in Okanagan AA Varsity Football Conference play Friday afternoon at Grahame Park.

  • Oct. 19, 2014 12:00 p.m.

Despite a sluggish first half, the Vernon Panthers brushed back the Salmon Arm Golds 37-12 in Okanagan AA Varsity Football Conference play Friday afternoon at Grahame Park.

After scoring on the opening drive, the Panthers were forced to punt on their following two drives, which was unusual territory for them in league play.

“I thought we took a step backwards as a team this week and didn’t perform well on either side of the ball,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith.

“Our secondary was soft in coverage and we couldn’t get any rhythm going on offence. As a coaching staff, we have to review the film and see what we can do to improve next week.”

Karson Patommel and Levi Nicholas were bright spots for the Panthers on offence. Patommel led all rushers with 162 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. He also hauled in two receptions for 38 yards, one of them for a TD.

Nicholas provided a spark at key moments and compiled 93 rushing yards and added 70 yards on four catches.

The Panthers led 17-6 at the break, and then blew the game open in the third quarter with three majors, including a Ben Hladik fumble recovery return.

Defensively, Carson Labrecque had six tackles and Nicholas had five.

Quarterback John Garvie had an off day, completing 8-of-18 passes for 144 yards.

“We left a lot of plays on the field today,” said Smith. “We missed open receivers, dropped some catchable balls and some missed opportunities to pick it off. Salmon Arm came ready to play and did a great job against us.”

The No. 3 ranked Panthers (3-0 league, 5-0 overall) visit Kamloops’ Westsyde Blue Wave at Hillside Stadium on Friday, 5 p.m.