It was one mistake too many for the Abbotsford Panthers on Friday.
A botched snap on the opening drive that led to a safety, a rushing touchdown by Richard Tshimpaka called back by a penalty, and allowing a major on a fake punt all led to a 23-22 loss to the G.W. Graham Grizzlies.
The Panthers had an opportunity in the game’s final moments to win the game off the foot of kicker James Parker. He had the distance but booted the potentially game-winning field goal attempt wide.
“I thought we played hard and put ourselves in a position to win and we just missed,” said Panthers head coach Jay Fujimura. “Graham is a very good team and you cannot expect to beat them without playing mistake-free football, and we didn’t do that today.”
The Panthers played most of the game without star player Chase Claypool, who suffered a charley horse in the second quarter, and was used sparingly after the injury. He didn’t play another series on defence after the injury and played a limited role on offence for the remainder of the game.
Fujimura said he expects Claypool to fully recover by the team’s next game. He said his squad performed well without its star player.
“We’ve had to play without him before and I think we’re a more well-rounded team than people think,” he said. “We have a good running back and receivers that can make some plays and they did today for us. We’re feeling confident we can fix a few things and move forward for the playoffs.”
Taking a pitch, Claypool threw the team’s first touchdown pass to Maasin Thompson to put the Panthers up 7-2 in the first quarter and then caught a touchdown pass in the second quarter to give Abbotsford a 13-9 lead. Tanner Marquardt added another first half major, to put the Panthers up 20-16 after the first half.
The teams traded field position for most of the second half, and the only touchdown came when the Grizzlies scored on a fake punt of over 50 yards. Graham conceded a safety late in the fourth quarter rather than punt to Claypool and Parker couldn’t put the ball through the uprights.
Abbotsford falls to three wins and one loss and next play the Rick Hansen Hurricanes on Nov. 7.
Earlier on Friday, the Robert Bateman Timberwolves beat the Hurricanes 54-0.
Defensive captain Devin Sidhu scored two defensive touchdowns, one off a fumble recover and one off an inteception in the victory.
The win keeps the Timberwolves playoff hopes alive and they improve to a record of one win and three losses. Bateman travels to Pitt Meadows on Nov. 6, in a game they must win to fight for their playoff lives.
The Hurricanes record sits at zero wins and four losses, and they close out the season at home against Abbotsford.
In AAA action on Friday, the W.J. Mouat Hawks lost 37-28 to Lord Tweedsmuir. Hawks running back Dion Pellerin picked up 177 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Dylan Manocha scored a major on a kick-off return in the loss.
The Hawks fall to two wins and four losses with the setback. Mouat’s regular season is over and they have to watch and see what happens in the final week of the season to see if they move on.