Lord Tweedsmuir running back Jamel Lyles tries to evade the John Barsby defence during a preseason game. Lyles rushed for 317 yards and three touchdowns in last weekend's 34-29 win over Vancouver College in the provincial playoffs.

Panthers reach semifinal in ‘historic’ season

Tweedsmuir tops Vancouver College; Crusaders and Hornets eliminated

Whatever happens over the next two weekends, the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers will have had the best season ever by a team from the Cloverdale high school.

The Panthers have advanced to the semifinal round of the BC High School Football Association’s Senior AAA provincial playoffs with a 24-29 victory over the Vancouver College Fighting Irish last Saturday at McLeod Stadium in Langley.

“It was an awesome game in an awesome atmosphere,” said Panthers head coach Kurt Thornton. It was a big loud crowd at McLeod Park. It was historic for our program as this will be our first AAA semifinal appearance at the senior level. Very proud of the boys.”

The Panthers had to come from behind for the win, as Vancouver College took a 29-28 lead with less than four minutes to play. Tweedsmuir’s outstanding running back Jamel Lyles then provided a spark with a long run that put the ball on the Irish five-yard line with a minute to go. Caleb Abraham ran it in from there for the winning points.

Vancouver College still had some time left on the clock when they got the ball back, but Panthers defensive back Brendan Woods picked off a pass with 15 seconds to play.

Lord Tweedsmuir totaled 496 yards of offense, 317 of which came when Lyles was rushing the ball on 25 carries. He also scored touchdowns on runs of 80, 52 and three yards.

Woods led the defense with 16 tackles, with Abraham adding 11 and Dalton Dietrich making seven tackles.

The Panthers will take on the Mt. Douglas Rams of Victoria in the semifinal round Saturday at 5 p.m. at the university of British Columbia. The Rams have conceded just 27 points in six league games, while scoring a league-best 315. The Panthers boast the second-fewest points allowed with 63 in seven games.

“Mount Douglas is an amazing team with talent across all positions,” said Thornton. “We need to find a way to control Marcus Davis and deal with their massive offensive and defensive lines.”

Davis, the Rams’ running back, has rushed for 870 yards on just 40 carries, scoring 13 touchdowns in league play.

“This will be our toughest test so far,” continued Thornton. “That being said, Lord Tweedsmuir has a special group of players and we will represent the school with everything we have.”

Two Surrey schools were eliminated from the Senior AA playoffs in the quarterfinal round.

The Holy Cross Crusaders fell 48-6 to the John Barsby Bulldogs in Nanaimo Saturday, with Anton Cvitkovitch scoring the only Crusaders touchdowns. Lucus Ciampelletti and Johnathon Kongbo were the leaders on defense.

“They were too big and strong for us, they pushed us all over the field,” said Crusaders head coach Ken Buchan. “Patrick Szabo took a beating at quarterback but stood in there and gave a gutsy performance.”

Buchan thanked his players, particularly for those in Grade 12, for a successful season.

“The highlight was taking the 2012 provincial champion South Delta (Sun Devils) down to the wire in a 12-6 game.”

The Frank Hurt Hornets also had their season end with a 25-7 loss to the Mission Roadrunners Friday in Abbotsford.

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