By Dan Kinvig – Abbotsford News Published: October 13, 2012 6:00 PM
The W.J. Mouat Hawks and Mount Douglas Rams spent much of Saturday afternoon racing up and down the gridiron, trading points like a couple of fast-breaking basketball teams.
It was ironic, then, that an old-school, grind-it-out, clock-eating drive and a pair of big defensive plays were the difference in a wildly entertaining AAA high school football match-up.
Maleek Irons’s fifth touchdown run of the game capped a methodical seven-minute drive, giving the No. 3-ranked Hawks a 52-49 lead with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter. Mouat sealed the upset victory over B.C.’s top-ranked team by intercepting Rams quarterback Ashton MacKinnon twice in the waning minutes.
“Hats off to Mouat – they played a whale of a football game,” Rams coach Mark Townsend said afterward. “And Maleek Irons, boy, is he ever the real deal.”
Indeed, Irons grew stronger as the game wore on, and finished with a mind-boggling stat line: 491 rushing yards on 48 carries.
The Grade 11 tailback lost a fumble in the first quarter, and suffered a gash on his left forearm that may require stitches. But he found the end zone for the first time late in the second quarter on a one-yard run, drawing the Hawks to within 28-23 at halftime.
Irons exploded for three TDs in the third quarter, lifting Mouat to a 45-42 advantage heading to the fourth.
Mount Doug’s Marcus Davis shook loose for a long punt return major to give the Rams a 49-45 lead, but the Hawks responded with a lengthy, gritty drive that ended with a nine-yard TD run by Irons.
The Mouat defence, which had struggled to contain the Rams for much of the afternoon, came up huge at the end. Linebacker Steven Baker picked off MacKinnon to snuff a Mount Doug drive, but the Rams stopped the Hawks and got the ball back on their own 24 yard line with 1:30 left. MacKinnon reared back and fired a deep bomb, but Mouat safety Matt Riley came down with it to clinch the win.
The Hawks exacted a measure of revenge for last year’s AAA provincial title game, where the Rams rallied to beat them 42-35. And they had a further point to prove after suffering a surprising 32-28 defeat to St. Thomas More last week after leading by 10 points with less than three minutes to go. Irons was held to just 75 rush yards in that game.
“It felt amazing, because I took a beating last week,” Irons said with a grin. “I feel relieved, I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I can finally have a nice sleep tonight.”
Quarterback Mario Narte rushed for two scores, and Riley booted a field goal for the Hawks.
“What a great tribute to the kids and their effort all week long,” Mouat coach Denis Kelly said. “We had breakdowns on defence, but everyone has breakdowns on defence against them. Their quarterback played well. It was great to see our guys come back and manage to win the game.”