The Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers had never seen an opponent pass the ball as much as the Belmont Bulldogs.
But the Victoria team hadn’t been able to see Tweedsmuir quarterback Johnny Chwaklinski until Friday afternoon at Cloverdale Athletic Park, and in the end they couldn’t stop him.
Chwaklinski played in his first full game at quarterback since a serious ATV accident this past summer, and led the Panthers to a 35-20 victory in the first round of the BC High School Football Association’s Senior AAA playoffs.
The Grade 12 student completed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Colton Zayshley to open the scoring, then ran eight times for 60 yards, including touchdown runs of three, four and five yards.
“Belmont gave us all we could handle through the air. It was a tough week of preparation as we haven’t played anybody that committed to throwing the football and some of our key guys were banged up from the Kelowna game (last week),” said Panthers head coach Kurt Thornton. “Our DC (defensive coordinator) Lou DesLauriers did an outstanding job preparing our boys for this game and our best defensive players stepped up and got the job done.”
Another key was to keep the ball away from the Bulldogs offense. The Panthers had the ball for just seven possessions, but scored on five of them and took plenty of time off the clock.
Caleb Abraham rushed 13 times for 157 yards, including a two-yard touchdown run, and also led the defence with eight tackles.
Hayden Hamilton, KJ Johnson, Brad Mawson each had five tackles, with Hamilton adding two sacks to his season’s total, bringing it to 14, which is a new school record.
Cam Sparkes was five-for-five on converts.
“We didn’t turn the ball over at all and kept penalties to a minimum,” said Thornton after the game. “Our boys executed the game plan and won the game as a result. I am very proud of the game the Panthers played.”
Lord Tweedsmuir advances to play the South Delta Sun Devils in a quarterfinal contest next weekend. While the Panthers were third in the Eastern Conference at 5-2 (won-lost), the Sun Devils placed second in the Western Conference with a 6-1 record.
The Seaquam Seahawks traveled to Richmond to play a home game against the Pitt Mead