The G.W. Graham Grizzlies fell short in their bid for back to back AAA football titles, falling 13-12 to Vancouver College in Saturday night’s Subway Bowl championship game at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver.
The underdog Grizzlies gave Vancouver College all they could handle and had a chance to pull off the upset in the final minute. But a failed two point convert proved the difference as G.W. Graham came up agonizingly short.
“I’m a little dejected with lots of mixed feelings, but I’m super proud of the team for battling their hearts out,” said head coach Luke Acheson afterwards. “They came up just short and it’s not the outcome we wanted, but hats off to VC. They’re a good team.
“When I think back on this team, I’m going to remember a group that’s full of heart. They’re a brotherhood. The best thing about our program is the way they love each other and the compassion they have for one another. It doesn’t happen often that you get a group that really cares about each other and sacrifices for each other. They showed it today and just came up short.”
The Fighting Irish have made a habit of jumping out to early leads and cruising to wins during the regular season, but that didn’t happen in this one.
Powered by running back Hudson Bromley, Van College took 15 plays to drive 65 yards on their first series, but stalled at the three yard line and turned the ball over. On their next series the Fighting Irish again found their way into Grizzly territory, but a bad snap led to a fumble recovery by Vincent Branauer.
G.W. Graham cashed that in for the first points of the game. Helped by pass interference and roughing the passer penalties, the Grizzlies drove to the Van College four yard line. From there, quarterback Lucas Feaver scrambled to his left, pulled up and lofted a touchdown toss to Christian Beck. After a missed point-after kick, GWG led 6-0.
The Fighting Irish answered back on their next series, and eight play effort capped off by a Finn Teasdale to Michael Joseph scoring strike. The major followed a Riley Ashley quarterback sack that had Van College backed up to third and 17.
VC nailed the point-after kick to lead 7-6 at the half.
The Grizzlies got the ball to start the third quarter and were on the move when Feaver threw an interception. The QB rolled to his left and had his pass picked off by Iain St. Arnault. But Van College couldn’t make GWG pay. A seven play drive was thwarted when Bromley came up short on a fourth-and-five run.
Taking over on their own 24 yard line, the Grizzlies embarked on a drive that brought them inside the VC 10 yard line and set up the play of the game. On fourth and three, GW Graham lined up for a 25 yard Josh Seo field goal attempt. The kick was blocked and Michael Joseph ran it all the way back for a major. The PAT kick by Mattias Eastman sailed wide left and the score was 13-6.
From potentially leading by two to trailing by seven, the Grizzlies were in a hole to start the fourth quarter and went three-and-out on their next series.
The G.W. Graham defence gave the offence another shot when Tyson Orregaard intercepted a pass in the endzone. Starting at their own five, the Grizzlies took eight plays to get across midfield. But a razzle-dazzle playcall backfired. Tailback Maleky Colgiu, who ran hard all night and likely would have been MVP had his team won, took a toss from Feaver. But instead of doing what he does best, he pulled up and lofted a pass down the right sideline. It was intended for Carter Dallas, but ended up in the hands of a Fighting Irish defender.
“Maleky played his heart out tonight and always does. He’s our sparkplug,” Acheson said. “We tried to pull one out of our bag of tricks. In hindsight we’d probably take a look at the film and maybe not throw it and keep running. But he thought he could make that throw and you can’t fault a star player for trying to make a play.”
The G.W. Graham offence took the field one last time with 62 seconds remaining, starting at their own 10.
After scrambling for nine yards on first down, Feaver rolled to his left on second down. Christian Beck flew uncovered down the left sideline, hauling in a beautiful over-the-shoulder pass. He was tracked down at the Van College six yard line, but on the next play Braeden MacDonald took a toss from Feaver and bulled in for the major.
Down 13-12, Acheson opted to go for two points and the win, but Feaver was stuffed.
“It’s one of those hindsight things right? You make it, you love it. You miss it, you can second guess it,” Acheson said. “I thought we had a pretty good call for it, but it didn’t work out for us.”
G.W. Graham appeared to recover the ensuing onside kick, but the referees correctly ruled that the ball didn’t travel 10 yards before the Grizzlies touched it. The Fighting Irish took a knee to end the game.
Joseph’s field goal block earned him game MVP honours. Bromley was the back of the game and G.W. Graham’s Riley Ashley was lineman of the game.