By Howard Tsunamura, The Province, Oct 13, 2012
ABBOTSFORD — How good was Maleek Irons on Saturday afternoon?
So good that the Grade 11 running back with Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Hawks turned in what is almost certainly the greatest single-game rushing performance in the history of B.C. high school football.
Irons carried 47 times for an incredible 491 yards, and scored five touchdowns including the dramatic game-winner from nine yards out as the host, No. 3-ranked Hawks (2-1, 6-1) out-gunned the previosuly undefeated, No. 1-ranked, defending B.C. Triple A champion Mt. Douglas Rams of Victoria 52-49.
Official records have never been kept, but a number of longtime B.C. prep football insiders agreed after the game that it was very doubtful that anyone had ever put up numbers to match Irons, who went over the 2,000-yard rushing mark in his seventh game of the season.
Incredibly, Irons had just two carries in which he did not gain a yard, and just one, his 47th and final of the contest, where he was held to minus-yardage (minus-one).
Afterwards Irons, with blood seeping out from a wrap around his elbow after suffering a cut earlier in the game and battling a flu, was more happy that his team was able to avenge its loss to the Rams (2-1, 6-1) in last season’s Subway Bowl championship final.
“We had to tough it out, it was a big loss for us last year,” said Irons. “I feel a weight lifted off my shoudlers. I can finally sleep at night. It’s going to be a good week.”
Strangely enough, in a game where offence ruled, and where at one stage of the second half, the two teams took turns scoring four staright touchdowns of 47 yards or greater, it was good, old-fashioned ball-control offence that wound up carrying the day.
Trailing 49-45 after Mt. Douglas’ Marcus Davis scored on a 95-yard punt return, the Hawks slowed the game and went on a ball-control drive that eat over seven minutes of game clock, culminating in Irons’ nine-yard scoring run with 2:31 remaining. Mouat’s Stephen Baker and Matt Riley then each intercepted Rams’ quarterback Ashton MacKinnon to preserve the win.
“It was almost better that we took that amount of time off the clock,” relieved Mouat head coach Denis Kelly said after. “We made them tackle us.”
The 101 points scored between the two teams eclipsed by one point the 100 points the two teams put up last season during Mouat’s regular season win in Victoria, making it one of the highest scoring games in provincial history. And in the last 13 months, the two teams have met three times with a total of 278 points scored.
Mt. Douglas led 28-23 at halftime, but the real fireworks took place over a span of 6:06 between the third and fourth quarters.
Irons’ 47-yard run put Mouat ahead 38-35, MacKinnon’s 60-yard strike to receiver Brian Dowds put the Rams up 42-38, and Irons’ 55-yard run made it 45-42 Mouat, setting the stage for Davis’ big punt return score, and later Irons’ late dagger.
“Maleek was unbelievable,” said Kelly of his Grade 11, who has now rushed for 2,004 yards and 30 touchdowns with three more league games remaining. “He just finds those seams and our line up front really moved (Mt. Douglas) on that last drive.”
Added Mt. Douglas head coach Mark Townsend: “Maleek Irons, is he ever the real deal. It was a great game that came down to the last minute and they were able to get a few stops on defence. Collectively as a team we can learn from this. This will keep us grounded and keep us hungry.”
Irons scored on a one-yard run with 46 seconds left in the first half, and also added a score on an eight-yard run in the third quarter. Mouat also got a pair of rushing touchdowns from quarterback Mario Narte and a 21-yard field goal from Riley.
The Rams got 113 yards rushing and two scores from brusing back Mason Swift, and another rushing major from Julan Luis. MacKinnon fired a pair of touchdown passes to Brian Dowds, and also rushed for one score.