The Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers found their offensive mojo in time to close out the exhibition season with a 35-20 win over the Kelowna Owls in high school class AAA football action Friday in Cloverdale.
Jamel Lyles spearheaded the Panthers on both sides of the ball, returning an interception 40 yards for a touchdown on fifth play of the game. On Tweedsmuir's first possession, quarterback Connor McKay hit Lyles on a screen pass, which went 13 yards and another touchdown to give the Panthers a quick 14-0 lead before the game was six minutes old.
Lyles finished the game with 18 rushes for 137 yards and one TD. McKay threw for two TDs and ran for another before tacking on five successful converts. Austin Iredale ran for one TD and Taylor Anderson scored on a 15-yard McKay pass in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring.
Nick Andrews and Ryan Godard combined for 15 tackles to lead the Tweedsmuir defence.
"We've had a really hard time sustaining drives so far this year, but against Kelowna we had drives of 14 plays and 13 plays that both ended in touchdowns," said Panthers coach Kurt Thornton. "Kelowna is a big play team and most of their points came on the big plays so it was comforting to know we could control the clock and keep the ball out of their hands. We had a really solid performance from our young quarterback and our team rushed for 233 yards in total. When you add in 143 yards passing, that's a pretty solid day of offence."
The Panthers begin league play Friday when they host New Westminster beginning at 3: 30 p.m.
Elsewhere, Mark Lego ran wild again Saturday to lead the Seaquam Seahawks to a 27-14 class AA exhibition win over host Langley.
Eight days after earning Player of the Week honours with 193 yards rushing and two TDs in a win over Pitt Meadows, Lego broke loose for 284 yards rushing and three TDs to lift the Seahawks past Langley.
Keegan Lensink caught a 15-yard pass from quarterback Adam Dobie for the fourth Seaquam major. Lensink also led the Seahawks defence with eight tackles while Tony Kee helped out with six more.
"The game was not really indicative of where we are at," said Seahawks coach Jerry Mulliss. "We jumped out to an early lead so we were able to make a lot of substitutions in the second half. Our kids are kind of young so they figure once you have a 14point lead, it's over. They're still learning that you have to play hard the entire game and how to maintain a lead and build on it.
"The game is not over in the second quarter just because you have a decent score going."
The Seahawks wrap up exhibition play Friday in Abbotsford against Rick Hansen.
The Holy Cross Crusaders were playing for real Saturday when they opened the class AA regular season with a 59-0 romp over newcomer Eric Hamber Griffins in Fleetwood.
Antonio Mendoza carried the ball five times for 100 yards and a pair of TDs, quarterback Rocky Shah ran for one touchdown and passed two more and Lucas Ciampelletti ran for one major returned an interception for another to lead the Crusaders' scoring parade.
Anton Cvitkovich and Ciampelletti led a hungry Crusaders defence that intercepted four Hamber passes.
"Give the Hamber kids credit; they tried hard and they never quit," said Crusaders coach Ken Buchan. "They played right to the end and didn't stop working. The good thing for us is that everybody got some playing time."
The Crusaders return to exhibition play Saturday when they host Langley a 1: 30 p.m.
In Tier II action, the Frank Hurt Hornets stung Milne 42-0 while the Earl Marriott Mariners were blanked 24-0 by Howe Sound.