The Mount Douglas Rams will remember the 2011 Subway Bowl as an instant classic, which it was.
The W.J. Mouat Hawks will recall it as the one that got away, which would also be accurate.
In a game of wild momentum swings, the Victoria-based Rams trailed by 22 points late in the second quarter, but came roaring all the way back to stun the Hawks 42-35 in the B.C. AAA high school football championship game at B.C. Place Stadium on Saturday.
“It was a great game between two great teams,” Mouat running back Devin Logan summarized in the aftermath, standing outside a quiet Hawks locker room. “Our team played hard, and played as a family. We just didn’t get the win.”
The play that will endure in the memory bank – evoking either good vibes or chagrin, depending on your perspective – came on the last play of the second quarter.
With Mouat holding a commanding 28-6 lead, the Rams had the ball on the Hawks’ 19 yard line. Quarterback Jordan Deverill rolled to his right to escape pressure and heaved a high-arcing Hail Mary pass into the right corner of the end zone. Two Mouat defensive backs appeared to have inside position, and Deion Bain got his hand on the ball. But the pigskin fell right into the arms of a diving Mount Douglas receiver, Brian Dowds, for an improbable touchdown.
The play infused the Rams with a sense of belief, and they outscored the Hawks 30-7 in the second half en route to victory.
“It was like everything froze,” recounted Dowds, who had hustled from the far side of the end zone when he saw Deverill scrambling. “I saw them tip it, and it was just hanging there, so I dove for it.”
The Hawks, for their part, felt the ball might have touched the turf before Dowds wrapped his arms around it.
“I thought I could knock it down,” Bain said. “I saw the ball on the ground, but the ref called it a completion.
“But that’s just life.”
The Hawks had gotten off to a tremendous start to the game, as Logan sprinted 59 yards for a touchdown on Mouat’s second play from scrimmage.
In the second quarter, the Hawks got two TDs in a span of 1:01 to go up 21-0. First, it was quarterback Daniel Markin hitting Bain for a 13-yard scoring pass. On the ensuing kickoff, a Rams player couldn’t handle a squib kick from Mouat’s Tanner Strauss, and the Hawks recovered on the Mount Douglas side of half. Nathan Henczel capped a lightning-quick drive with a nine-yard TD on a reverse.
The Rams found some traction at that point, as superstar running back Terrell Davis found the end zone on a 14-yard scamper. But the Hawks answered right back, as Markin flipped a screen pass to Logan that he took 23 yards for a major.
The Hawks looked to be in complete control at that point, but Dowds’s TD to end the half was the beginning of the end.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Deverill hit Taylor Young in stride for a 76-yard TD. Logan responded with a six-yard scoring run, but Mason Swift, the Rams’ Grade 11 running back, took over from there. He would score three consecutive TDs – the last one on a 15-yard pass from Deverill with 6:11 left in the fourth quarter – as the Rams surged ahead 42-35.
The Hawks mustered one last drive, marching the ball to the Rams’ 10 yard line with just over four minutes left. But on second and goal, the Hawks tried a reverse, and the ball hit the turf as Logan handed off to Strauss. Mount Douglas recovered, and ran out the clock from there.
Logan had a huge game in defeat, rushing for 155 yards on 18 carries. Bain hauled in six passes for 98 yards, while Jake Heathcote was named the outstanding lineman of the game after a 17-tackle performance.
Rams QB Deverill racked up 362 yards and three TDs through the air on 23-of-30 passing, and he was honoured as the top back of the game. Swift took home the MVP award after posting 158 yards from scrimmage and three majors.
The Hawks had succeeded in stuffing the Rams’ vaunted running game early, but Mount Douglas made an adjustment to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers – Davis and Swift – via the pass.
“Defensively, we were having trouble with their passing game, and eventually that opened up the run game,” Hawks head coach Denis Kelly noted. “With Terrell Davis, you blink and he’s by you, and the same thing with Mason Swift. They did a good job in the second half.
“It didn’t work out because we were playing a great football team. We sure had them scared for a long time. I was really proud of the way we played overall.”
Saturday’s game marked the finish line of an emotional season for the Hawks. In June, cancer claimed longtime Mouat equipment manager John “Opa” Smeysters. In July, former wide receiver Desmond Bassi – a class of 2011 grad who had earned a football scholarship from Simon Fraser University – was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
“We didn’t just play for ourselves this season,” Logan noted. “We played for Des and Opa. We played as a family.”