Morning Star Staff
The high of being the No. 2 ranked team in AA football in B.C. lasted just a week for the Vernon Panthers.
After moving up the charts from honourable mention to second seed after stopping the John Barsby Bulldogs of Nanaimo in Week 2, VSS fell 48-17 to the Abbotsford Panthers Saturday at Greater Vernon Athletics Park.
Abby was originally rated No. 1 in AA, but have since been promoted to AAA.
Tailback Samwel Uko rang up 368 yards and five touchdowns for Abbotsford, using his wheels early and often and taking the opening play 65 yards to the end zone.
Two drives later, quarterback John Madigan hit a wide open Reese Morrison for a 55-yard TD strike.
“I knew after watching film that Uko was going to give us a lot of problems,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith. “He’s quick and will make you miss if you don’t use good technique. We haven’t seen someone with speed like that in a while. I also give credit to their O-line. They were big and made it a lot easier for him”
Down 28-3 at the half, Vernon mounted a comeback to start the third quarter. Thomas Hyett hit Bradley Hladik on a 44-yard bomb to put the Cats within 18.
A fumble on the ensuing drive gave them the ball back. The Hyett to Hladik combination struck again for a 60-yard catch and run that took the Panthers to the five-yard line. Grade 10 tailback Charles Lemay capped the drive with a TD plunge to close the gap to 11.
Abbotsford put the ball in Uko’s hands the rest of the way and he scored three more times.
“Full credit to Abby,” added Smith. “They were big, strong, fast and were very disciplined on both offence and defence. We couldn’t match their team speed which limited us in the end. Our tackling was not at the level I am used to from my guys so we’ll have to make that an emphasis in the coming weeks.
“While we lost, I was very happy with a lot of our back-ups and juniors who filled in due to injury. We had a patchwork defence out there and I thought they did as good as can be expected against a quality AAA opponent.”
Senior Josh Hyer led all Vernon tacklers with six to go along with three quarterback sacks. Vernon (2-1) closes out the exhibition season when they host Pitt Meadows Friday night (7:30) at the Greater Vernon Athletics Park.
Riley Bos had 11 touches for 25 yards, while Tyler Riva and Nick Warren each posted four tackles.
Meanwhile, the Fulton Maroons brushed back the host Rutland Voodoos 35-28 in exhibition play Saturday.
It was 14-14 at the half with quarterback Ike Olson registering two touchdown runs.
Caden Doyle hauled in TD receptions of eight and 28 yards from Olson, while Koalden Gudeit-Oakden scampered seven yards for another score. Jeff Han was 5-for-5 on extra points and added three catches for 33 yards.
Olson completed eight of 18 passes for 99 yards. He tossed two interceptions.
Ryan Rumsey rushed 13 times for 80 yards, while Olson racked up 98 yards on 14 carries and Gudeit put up 51 yards on nine runs
Olson and Rumsey each rang up five tackles, while Andrew Goldenthal earned four. Olson produced three sacks and Goldenthal one. Eric Yildiz David recovered two fumbles.
“This was a huge win for our team,” said Fulton head coach Mike Scheller. “We have not won much lately and I could not be happier for our kids, parents and coaches.
“We went up 28-20 with two minutes left, and a very game Rutland team scored and converted the two-point to tie it. We marched and they intercepted us close to their goal-line. Jeff Han stripped the ball carrrier and we recovered. Olson hit Doyle with the TD with 30 seconds left to cap a very exciting game.
“Rutland made it very interesting for the last 30 seconds. It was a great high school football game. Rutland and coach Pete McCall showed a lot of class during the game. Ike Olson was awesome for us today. He played very tough on defence, and was our best player. On offence, he ran the ball well and made great decisions at QB. I can’t say enough about Caden Doyle. He was sick all week, but he is our playmaker. He showed a lot of heart in this contest. His game winning TD was him fighting for his teammates.
“Gudeit and Rumsey both ran the ball hard behind our o-line. Coaches Thomas and Cragg have done a good job with our offensive line. Logan Higgs, Anthony Prince and JJ Heaton were very tough for us up front.”
Safety Teigan Derkach at safety and Gudeit were effective in the secondary.
Fulton entertains the Duchess Park Condors of Prince George Friday, 5 p.m., at the college.