The North Langley Bears have clawed to the Valley Community Football Leagueâ€™s peewee championship game.
The Bears battled to a 3-0 win over the Chilliwack Blue Giants in playoff action last Saturday, Nov. 8.
The only points of the defensive duel came in overtime, on a 15-yard field goal by Tyson Hoy.
The Bears will face the Abbotsford Falcons in the final this Saturday at McLeod Stadium. Opening kickoff is at noon.
Big defensive plays were the story.
Midway through the second quarter, the Giants drove 55 yards to the North Langley 20, where the Bearsâ€™ defence stopped them one yard short of a first down, giving North Langley possession of the ball.
On the next play from scrimmage, Marcus Stang broke clear of the Chilliwack defence and covered 65 yards before being hauled down from behind by a fleet-footed Giantsâ€™ defender, who prevented a major score.
With the Bears at the Chilliwack 25, the Giantsâ€™ defence dug in and forced a turnover on downs.
Early in the fourth quarter, North Langley reached the Chilliwack one yard line after putting together the gameâ€™s longest sustained drive of 66 yards, but two plays later a fumble recovered by the Giants kept the game scoreless.
Chilliwackâ€™s next three possessions in regulation time ended in a punt and two failed third-down conversion attempts in short yardage situations, one thanks to a solo tackle by Connor Bernardin for a two-yard loss.
With no score after 40 minutes, the game went to a â€œshootoutâ€ overtime format, with each team in turn getting possession of the ball 15 yards from the end zone.
The Giants executed a flawless reverse hand-off to the right, but North Langleyâ€™s speedy Mathieu Gale raced over and forced the ball carrier to step out of bounds before he crossed the goal line. Three more attempts to score the go-ahead touchdown were thwarted by the North Langley defence, ending with a â€œBear hugâ€ tackle by Nick Reimer and Brandon Folkerts at North Langleyâ€™s four yard line.
Getting the ball at the 15 yard line, the Bears turned again to Stang, whose rushing accounted for 149 of their 184 net offensive yards on the day.
Two carries brought the ball to the 10 yard line, and then Hoy, as the kicker, went in to attempt his very first field goal of the season.
A perfect snap from Jacob Deibert, hold from Jordan Williams, and boot from Hoy lifted the ball through the uprights and the Bears into the peewee division final.
The IHOP players of the game were Marcus Stang for North Langley and Grayson Frick for Chilliwack.
â€“ by Andy Faust
North Langley bantam Bears
The Bears advanced to the VMFL nine-man finals with a 14-0 shutout of the Mission Niners.
Jacob Stebbings completed two second quarter touchdown passes to seal the victory, including a 33-yard toss to Andy Hanlen followed by a 36-yard strike to Alex Henderson on the very next series.
A constantly blitzing Nick Lecroix was a standout on the Bearsâ€™ defence as he regularly put pressure on the Ninersâ€™ backs, making it difficult for Missionâ€™s offence to sustain any momentum.
Charlie May snuffed out a second quarter Niners drive with a nifty interception.
The game was called after just one half of play as the Niners found themselves unable to field enough players to meet league regulations.
The Bears will attempt to advance to the provincial finals when they face the Richmond Raiders this weekend at McLeod Stadium.
â€“ by Chris Hurley
North Langley atom Bears
The Bears suffered a heartbreaking 34-14 loss to Meadow Ridge on Saturday, which ended their playoff hopes.
Despite playing one of their best quarters of the season, the Bears fell to a Knights squad that played a consistently strong game.
The first quarter belonged to the Knights, with two long running touchdowns.
The Bears then got their defence on track with some huge tackles by Kayden Bell, Ezekiel Bodill, Manny Fotiou, Keaghan Hurley, and Annika Key.
The Bears scored their only two touchdowns in the second quarter.
The first was a long drive down the field with runs by Hurley and Owen Sieben, with Sieben running the ball the last two yards for the major.
Then, on the first play following the kickoff after the score, Ty Gallinger recovered a fumble to get the ball back in the Bearsâ€™ hands.
On arguably the Bearsâ€™ best play of the season, Sieben broke several tackles before throwing a pass downfield to Hurley for a 42 yard touchdown.
Gallinger kicked the two-point conversion as the Bears moved ahead 14-12.
However, the Knights scored on the kickoff return to take a 20-14 lead into the halftime break.
The Bears lost momentum in the second half.
Despite long first down runs by Sieben, Hurley, and Gallinger, and several penalties against the Knights, the Bears couldnâ€™t find the end zone again.
The Knights scored two more touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.
â€“ by Julie Fennell