The AA battle of Abbotsford had a swift and decisive winner on Friday.
The Abbotsford Panthers hosted cross-town rivals the Robert Bateman Timberwolves and jumped on early Bateman mistakes to build a big early lead.
The Panthers went up 14-0 after just over four minutes and cruised to a 41-14 win.
“I thought we played consistent football for four quarters today, which we’re always looking for,” said Panthers head coach Jay Fujimura. “Offensively we wanted to see if we could run the ball more this week and we did. And defensively I thought we were much tighter today than we were at the start of the season.”
Bateman fumbled on their first drive of the game, giving the Panthers good field position and Chase Claypool caught a touchdown 2:11 into the game. Reese Morrison then grabbed an interception on the Wolves second drive and Claypool scored another touchdown. Claypool added another touchdown off a broken play before the end of the first half.
Timberwolves coach Dan Village said the mistakes cost his team.
“The first five minutes was a rough go,” he said. “We really put ourselves in a hole early but we ended up battling and the second half was a lot better.”
Bateman trailed 28-0 at the half, but then got on the board against the Panthers when Anthony Bodger rumbled in for a touchdown. Charlie May also scored for the Wolves.
Claypool added another touchdown in the second half and the Panthers also got a major from Tanner Marquardt. Morrison grabbed another pick in the second half.
Fujimura said he likes the way his team is gelling as the season’s end approaches.
“We’ve come together and begun to play more as a unit,” he said. “Before we were kind of just running around but now the guys are beginning to understand what we need them to do. We’re able to close on defence a lot faster and just be in the right position.”
Village said he liked his team’s play in the second half and the final two weeks of the season will determine their fate. The Wolves sit 0-3 but can qualify for the playoffs with two wins.
“Are we happy? No, but our boys know that we have two weeks to prove ourselves,” he said. “If we win, we’re in. If we lose, we’re done and I think they understand what’s at stake.”
Bateman lost by one point to Mission and by one touchdown to G.W. Graham in previous weeks. The Wolves play Rick Hansen on Friday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Panthers host G.W. Graham on Friday in a battle for first place. Both teams have a perfect 3-0 record. In other AA action, the Rick Hansen Hurricanes lost 58-0 to Mission on Friday.
In AAA action, the W.J. Mouat Hawks won their second straight, beating the Mt. Boucherie Bears 56-20 on Saturday.
Quarterback Noah Dietrich threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns and running back Dion Pellerin scored three rushing touchdowns for the big win. Pellerin added a receiving touchdown and Cam’ron Lobban also caught a touchdown pass.
The Hawks improve to two wins and three losses on the season and are in fourth place in the AAA’s Eastern Conference.
Mouat next travels to Surrey to take on Lord Tweedsmuir on Friday.