The Abbotsford Panthers ended the Barsby Bulldogs dynasty in Nanaimo on Saturday.
Abbotsford knocked off the two-time defending provincial champs with a 50-36 win to clinch a spot in the AA semi-finals, and much of the credit can go to Panthers star Chase Claypool.
Claypool put the Panthers on his back, scoring six touchdowns and making a difference on both ends of the ball. Abbotsford had a 36-21 lead on the Bulldogs heading into the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs battled back to tie the game at 36. Claypool responded with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and the Panthers defence made key stops to topple the champions.
Claypool said it was a tough win.
“They beat us up, they got me tired,” he said. “I was wanting to sub the whole game, but I had to stay in there. They really beat us up on offence, but our guys stepped up and I think we played really well defensively.”
He also gave credit to his quarterback.
“It was our quarterback John Madigan just throwing perfect balls,” he said. “He trusted me to go up and get the ball. So it was just trust.”
At the end of the day, Claypool scored four receiving touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and snagged one interception.
He said he likes his team’s chances in the semi-finals.
“I feel like we have a great chance,” he said. “The momentum is in our favour, so I think we can just carry that through.”
The Panthers battle the Langley Saints under the bright lights of BC Place on Saturday at 5 p.m. A win advances Abbotsford to the AA provincial final.
Langley finished the regular season at a perfect four wins and no losses, and outscored its opposition 138-13. The Saints beat the Ballenas Whalers 41-19 on Nov. 13, and then defeated the Vernon Panthers 28-21 on Saturday.
The winner of the Abbotsford and Langley game then takes on the winner of Carson Graham versus G.W. Graham, which occurs on Saturday at noon.
Meanwhile, the Abbotsford Panthers junior varsity team has advanced to the elite eight after beating Barsby 52-12 in Abbotsford on Nov. 19. The JV team next takes on the Windsor Dukes on Friday at Burnaby Lakes.