The Mission Roadrunners have been a Double-A powerhouse all season long, but on Saturday they were mystified by the John Barsby Bulldog’s double-wing offence for just a few minutes too long in a 36-20 loss to the Victoria Island squad.
The Bulldogs, who were vying for their second straight AA provincial championship, pounded the ball through the middle in the first quarter, gaining yardage on every play and scoring two majors. There were only two passing plays attempted in the first twelve minutes as Barsby found all their success on the ground and the Roadrunners couldn’t manage a first down.
In the second quarter Mission put together a solid drive built on lateral passes, trying to spread the field. The ‘Runners quarterback Jesse Walker ran the final play in for the touchdown, and the two teams entered halftime with Barsby leading 24-7.
“I knew every play they were going to run by their alignment, and our boys did too,” said Mission coach Danny Jakobs, “but that means nothing if you’re going to get pushed around and I thought we got pushed around a little bit.”
The Roadrunners played hard in the first half, but made several critical errors to compound their difficulty with the Bulldogs’ offence. They were forced into making a big stop after having surrendered an onside kick, and committed a fatal penalty in the final minutes that allowed Barsby an unexpected first down and eventual field goal.
While the Bulldogs swarmed Walker, the 2014 Double-A Player of the Year, on almost every play, Jakobs was proud of his slotbacks Inder Herr and Reilly Demarco for capitalizing on the resulting defensive holes.
“They brought everybody against me,” said Walker ruefully after the game. “I had to throw the ball and made some plays, but you can’t make every play.”
Image courtesy of Ray Shum and Tempest photo.
Still, Walker managed all three of Mission’s touchdowns, and required the Bulldogs to sacrifice coverage elsewhere all game long. The Roadrunner quarterback scored eight touchdowns in the semifinal game against the Ballenas Whalers, and is a threat on every play.
Both Jakobs and Walker mentioned the toll that injuries have taken on the Roadrunners this season. Already running a short bench, Mission was down several players including two starters. Consequently, Jakobs described his team as “courageous,” remarking that the remaining players all had “to go two ways [offence and defense] and play their hearts out.”
“We prepared all week for this. The boys knew what we had to do,” said Walker, “but we weren’t ready for them. They caught us by surprise, they took over in the first quarter, and sometimes you can’t let that happen or it’s too hard to come back”