“That was heart-stopping!”
Those were quarterback Gus Steeves’ words to head coach Opie Williams after the thrilling play that saved the atom Cowichan Bulldogs’ bacon and helped them to their first win of the spring football season.
The Bulldogs had marched down the field in the fourth quarter of their road game against the Nanaimo Seahawks Blue last Saturday, thanks to key blocks from offensive linemen Josh Dadswell, Emmitt Ryder and Ben Wikkerink. Then the team fumbled the ball in the red zone, only to have Vaughn Williams recover.
After Steeves and his teammates got their hearts beating again, Ethan Lust caught his second touchdown pass of the game and Steeves ran in the convert to put his team up by a single point — all they would need to secure the victory. Landon Buscaino and Harrison Plaxton made some big stops on Nanaimo’s last possession to make it stand up.
Most of the game went back and forth. Steeves opened he scoring with a 75-yard run, but Nanaimo replied quickly. Steeves restored the lead by running 65 yards and breaking four tackles, then completed the two-point convert pass to Rylund (Blondi) Monti. Nanaimo scored the next two touchdowns before Lust caught an eight-yard pass from Steeves and broke out 62 yards for his first of the day. Nanaimo got back in front before the Bulldogs pulled off their last-minute heroics to win.
Steeves finished 3-for-8 on passing and ran for 196 yards, and Plaxton and Vaughn Williams rushed for 43 and 34 yards on four carries apiece. The Cowichan defence got big plays from Ryder, Lust, Vaughn Williams, Pearse Molleken and Marcus Jeet. The atoms will be back home at McAdam Park this Saturday against Nanaimo White.
The peewee Bulldogs played to their first loss of the season, falling 24-20 to Nanaimo Blue.
“Another exciting game for our team,” head coach Trystan Ryder commented. “Our players gave it everything they had, and left it all on the field, unfortunately we ran out of time. A couple of big plays on special teams were the difference for Nanaimo, as they scored two touchdowns on kick returns. Some miscues by our kickoff unit, and a very elusive and fast kick returner, set us back on the opening kickoff.”
The Cowichan offence created positive yards on every offensive series, and didn’t need to punt on third down at all.
Versatile quarterback Dominic Reeves connected with Mica Kendrick, Cole Tokarek and Atlas Ryder on multiple occasions, or ran when he couldn’t find an open man, and scored one of the Bulldogs’ touchdowns that way. Big blocks from Landen Laver and Aylin Canning on the offensive line opened holes for fullback Adam Troy, and Rhys McKelvie stepped up to fill in at centre. On defence, Kasen Randhawa had a great game at both cornerback and linebacker, and Laver and Canning were both strong at linebacker.
The peewee and bantam Bulldogs will travel to Parksville this Saturday to visit the Oceanside Lions.