The Seaquam Seahawks kept it close for a half, but the host Vernon Panthers proved too much in the end.
The Cats’ running game found its stride in the second half, helping Vernon cruise to a 42-7 win over the Hawks Friday at Grahame Park.
The teams traded opening-drive touchdowns, but Vernon’s ground attack took over, with tailback Karson Patommel (21 carries, 244 yards) powering his way to the end zone on a 15-yard plunge.
After stopping Seaquam on the ensuing kick, the Panthers took over the ball at their own 20-yard line with less than a minute to play. Zac Kronbauer (12 carries, 153 yards) took a reversal 80 yards to score with five seconds remaining to give the Panthers a 21-7 halftime lead.
“In the second quarter, we let the O-line and Karson carry us and they responded big time,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith. “Our big guys (O-line, Patommel and Travis Froom) won the game for us. Seaquam didn’t have an answer to our power game and that set up a lot of outside runs by our speed guys.”
The second half saw more of the same with Patommel scoring from 70 yards. Andy Hladik hauled in a 39-yard TD reception from quarterback John Garvie. Kronbauer added another score on a fourth-quarter rush.
“While we were able to find some success on the ground, our passing game was not where it needs to be in the playoffs,” said Smith. “Our route running was not crisp and we missed a few opportunities to go over the top.”
Defensively, Patommel collected 10 tackles and one sack. Froom and Chase Larsen each contributed five tackles and Grade 10 Justin Haverkamp had four.
The Panthers advance to the B.C. quarterfinals and will host the No. 4 ranked Carson Graham Eagles of North Vancouver (date to be determined).