The Terry Fox Ravens have that one shot they had hoped for – a chance to defend their 2016 B.C. Subway Bowl title.
The senior AAA football team locked up a berth to the championship final for a second straight year, holding on to defeat the No. 2-ranked St. Thomas More Knights in Saturday’s semifinal at BC Place. And unlike last weekend, where it took a miraculous late turnover to get Fox the win, this game was about nursing a lead and fending off a rally.
Three touchdowns from Grade 11 quarterback Jevaun Jacobsen supplied the sauce, while the Ravens’ young defence stood up against a powerful and determined STM squad to exact a return from an earlier season loss.
““The main game plan was just to go at them a little bit, we do have some athletic kids,” noted co-coach Tom Kudaba of a contest that saw Fox flash its breakout offence. “You could see what (Grade 11 running back) Cade Cote was able to do with the long run, and (Jacobsen) showed a lot of leadership.”
Jacobsen, who was one of the most accurate throwers on the season by completing 30 of 43 pass attempts over six regular season games and seven-for-nine in the first week of playoffs, did most of his work with his feet. He scored the game’s first major early in the first quarter, and Cote took a handoff at his own 16-yard line and turned it into an 84-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
Between those two majors, Fox turned over the ball twice but managed to contain the damage, as STM was unable to put one over. The team’s young, Grade 11-heavy defence continued to show maturity and a solid football IQ under pressure, Kudaba said.
“They didn’t break. They wilted a little bit but didn’t break.”
On the first possession of the second half, the Knights got to the one-yard line off a Doug Flutie-esque pass from Dario Ciccone, who finished the drive with a one-yard push. It didn’t stay 14-7 long, as Jacobsen responded with his second major with four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Ciccone would get the Knights to within seven again, two minutes into the final quarter, punching across a three-yard TD after a long pass set the table.
Just as he did the previous quarter, Jacobsen took it into the end zone on second-and-goal at the one to quell STM’s momentum.
While STM’s David Osho made it a one-TD contest again with 2:25 left in the game, a Knights comeback just wasn’t in the cards on this night. By emerging with a 28-21 decision, Fox stockpiles some vital momentum heading into the championship final.
“We made maybe a few mistakes on defence, maybe two, three plays the whole game and we did a pretty good job aside from that,” said Kudaba. “They were obviously shorthanded without (star running back and linebacker Tyler) Eckert at full health. They were also without (AAA Defensive MVP) Sam Steele for the most part and that kind of hurt them on defence. They played with a lot of emotion, give credit to them.”
Eckert did play portions of the game, while Steele missed approximately half the game due to an injury.
With New West flashing its explosive skillset in a 52-45 victory over South Delta in the other semifinal, Kudaba expects a tough challenge ahead for his lineup.
“New West, there’s no secret what they are going to do. They’ve been running the same scheme for a number of years, and it will come down to our defence, being able to play the positions,” he said.
“We’re pretty big team as you can see on the line so it’s tough to run against us, but New West has some speed, they’ve got some small athletic guys who are pretty quick. … They scored 55 against South Delta but I don’t think they’ll score 55 against us but they’ll certainly move the ball; it’s up to us to keep it out of the end zone.”
The B.C. Subway Bowl final goes Saturday, 7 p.m. at B.C. Place.