The Vernon Yellow Jackets used stifling defence and timely offensive plays to remain undefeated in the Southern Interior Football League’s Pee Wee division Sunday at Grahame Park.
With three minutes to play, Zack Smith broke free for a 20-yard touchdown run to give the Jackets a 10-6 comeback win over the Kelowna Lions, improving their record to 3-0.
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Lions pounced on a quarterback fumble and rambled 40 yards to take a 6-0 lead.
Relentless pressure from the Jackets’ defence paid off just before halftime when defensive end Matthew Reich and Thomas Satterthwaites combined to sack the quarterback for a safety.
“We knew if we could continue to play tough defence, our (offence) would eventually score,” said head coach Bryan Cragg.
Hoping to avoid being pinned deep in their own territory, Kelowna conceded another safety in the third quarter.
After Smith’s TD, Liam Glennon executed a perfect on-side kick that was recovered by the Jackets, ending any hope of a Lion comeback.
“Our defensive front was the difference in this game,” said Cragg. “Reich (7.5 tackles), Satterthwaites (3.5 tackles), Isaiah Ondrik (four tackles) and Devin Hofsink (three tackles) were in the backfield making plays all day long and held their offense to negative yards on the day.”
The Jackets host the 0-3 Salmon Arm Colts Sunday morning (11:00) at Grahame.
Meanwhile, the Vernon Wolverines fell 22-6 to the Chilliwack Giants in a hard-fought Bantam division opener Sunday at Grahame.
Trey Isaac kicked a 50-yard punt which was mishandled by the returner and was recovered in their end zone by Vernon Middle linebacker Max Chapman for the Wolverines’ lone score.
Chilliwack scored a touchdown on a broken play with only seconds left in the game to make the scoreline appear more lopsided than it really was.
Zac Kronbauer earned the Wolverines’ Player of the Game for his continuous intensity on both sides of the ball, and on special teams. Chapman was a force on the Wolverines’ defence, and quarterback Tye Kitzman was a standout offensively.
Said Wolverine head coach Doug Cook: “All of the coaches are very happy and proud of the effort each and every player put out today. If it wasn’t for a couple first-game mistakes, the W would have been on our side of the score sheet.”
The Wolverines visit Meadow Ridge in the Fraser Valley Saturday.
In Junior Bantam action, the Vernon Marauders bowed 40-6 to the Kelowna Lions Sunday afternoon at Grahame.
Connor Manahan scored the Marauders’ only TD, and compiled 92 rushing yards. Keaton Vernon was also solid, rushing for 87 yards before being sidelined with an injury early in the third quarter.
Both QBs, Dylan Huber and Keegan Vicklund, played solid games and were supported by linemen Clayton Hamming, Tommy Bettcher and Kaiden Parton. Morgan Nichols did an outstanding job as a punter, launching one kick 37 yards.
On defence, Tyler (Ducky) Sova was a standout with eight tackles and a sack. Tyler Riva added seven tackles and worked well on the pass rush. Zack Rogers had five tackles and a fumble recovery.
The Marauders suffered several mental lapses that led to penalties and killed drives.
“We are still teaching some of our new players the game,” said head coach Ron Kirschner. “As they gain experience they will make fewer mistakes.”
The Marauders host the Salmon Arm Broncos Sunday, 1 p.m., at Grahame.