The W.J. Mouat Hawks and Mount Douglas Rams spent much of Saturday afternoon racing up and down the gridiron, trading points like a couple of fast-breaking basketball teams.
It was ironic, then, that an old-school, grind-it-out, clock-eating drive and a pair of big defensive plays were the difference in a wildly entertaining AAA high school football match-up.
Maleek Irons’s fifth touchdown run of the game capped a methodical seven-minute drive, giving the No. 3-ranked Hawks a 52-49 lead with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter. Mouat sealed the upset victory over B.C.’s top-ranked team by intercepting Rams quarterback Ashton MacKinnon twice in the waning minutes.
“Hats off to Mouat – they played a whale of a football game,” Rams coach Mark Townsend said afterward. “And Maleek Irons, boy, is he ever the real deal.”
Indeed, Irons grew stronger as the game wore on, and finished with a mind-boggling stat line: 491 rushing yards on 48 carries.
The Grade 11 tailback lost a fumble in the first quarter, and suffered a gash on his left forearm that may require stitches. But he found the end zone for the first time late in the second quarter on a one-yard run, drawing the Hawks to within 28-23 at halftime.
Irons exploded for three TDs in the third quarter, lifting Mouat to a 45-42 advantage heading to the fourth.
Mount Doug’s Marcus Davis shook loose for a long punt return major to give the Rams a 49-45 lead, but the Hawks responded with a lengthy, gritty drive that ended with a nine-yard TD run by Irons.
The Mouat defence, which had struggled to contain the Rams for much of the afternoon, came up huge at the end. Linebacker Steven Baker picked off MacKinnon to snuff a Mount Doug drive, but the Rams stopped the Hawks and got the ball back on their own 24 yard line with 1:30 left. MacKinnon reared back and fired a deep bomb, but Mouat safety Matt Riley came down with it to clinch the win.
The Hawks exacted a measure of revenge for last year’s AAA provincial title game, where the Rams rallied to beat them 42-35. And they had a further point to prove after suffering a surprising 32-28 defeat to St. Thomas More last week after leading by 10 points with less than three minutes to go. Irons was held to just 75 rush yards in that game.
“It felt amazing, because I took a beating last week,” Irons said with a grin. “I feel relieved, I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I can finally have a nice sleep tonight.”
Quarterback Mario Narte rushed for two scores, and Riley booted a field goal for the Hawks.
“What a great tribute to the kids and their effort all week long,” Mouat coach Denis Kelly said. “We had breakdowns on defence, but everyone has breakdowns on defence against them. Their quarterback played well. It was great to see our guys come back and manage to win the game.”
HANSEN 24, LANGLEY 7
The Hurricanes started slowly, but pulled away in the second half to maintain their undefeated record.
The Saints intercepted Hansen QB Alex Ho on each of the Hurricanes’ first two possessions, and Hansen took a slim 3-0 lead into halftime on Vishal Toor’s 30-yard field goal.
Ho threw a third-quarter TD pass to his brother Brandon, and rushed for a nine-yard major. Running back Jasnoor Dhaliwal, starting in place of the injured Reagan Doucette, had a huge game, rushing for 172 yards and one TD on 25 carries.
“We were not happy with the way we came out at the start the game on both sides of the ball,” Hansen coach Paul Gill said. “Overall we won ugly, and we hope it is a wake-up call for us to come out flying every week.”
BATEMAN 36, PITT MEADOWS 29
A larcenous defence was the difference for the Timberwolves as they pulled off a thrilling win over the Marauders.
With Pitt leading 29-28, Bateman linebacker Cole Brien picked off an attempted screen pass and returned it for a score to give the T-Wolves the lead. The Marauders responded by driving the ball down to the Bateman seven yard line, but the T-Wolves stood firm and got a clutch fourth-down stop to lock up the victory.
“It was a back and forth game,” Bateman assistant coach Rick MacDonald said, noting that Pitt rallied from a 28-14 deficit in the third quarter. “Our defence really stepped it up late.”
Tanner Friesen had a monster game on both sides of the ball for the T-Wolves. On offence, the quarterback ran for an 80-yard touchdown and a two-point convert, and threw a TD pass to Riley Davis. On defence, the linebacker had a 100-yard INT return and recovered a fumble.
Jay Lee booted two field goals for Bateman, while Daniel Mills had a two-point convert. Defensive tackle Chris Ward was instrumental in slowing the Pitt running game.
MISSION 42, ABBY SENIOR 0
Quarterback Kevin Wiens rushed for four TDs as the defending B.C. AA champs blanked the Panthers at Rotary Stadium.
“They’re very good all-around,” Abby Senior coach Jay Fujimura said of the Roadrunners. “They can throw the ball, they’ve got a strong, quick line, and they’ve got a running back and a quarterback who run the ball extremely well. It was tough for us to contain them. We did a good job at times, but with those guys and their ability, it only takes one little mistakes and they break it.”
Outside linebacker James Pauls was one of the Panthers’ better players on the day, while quarterback Carter Williams and running back Mansa Mandagi turned in gritty performances in the face of a relentless Roadrunners defence.
This week’s schedule is highlighted by an all-Abbotsford AA clash between Bateman and Abby Senior (Friday, 3:30 p.m. at Bateman).
In other action, Mouat hits the road to face the Terry Fox Ravens (Friday, 7 p.m.), while the Hurricanes visit Pitt Meadows (Friday, 7:30 p.m.)