The Howe Sound Sounders fell short of their goal of a provincial championship on Saturday under the dome at BC Place.
Despite a close first half, they lost to the reigning Tier II high school football champs from Earl Marriott 40-14.
The first quarter, for the most part, proved to be a stalemate. Howe Sound almost got on the board but just missed what looked like a sure TD pass.
Late in the first, Howe Sound’s Lukas Nering, who had a strong game on both sides of the ball, picked off a pass on the team’s five-yard line. However, the Sounders could not move the sticks far enough upfield.
The second quarter began on a sour note when the Sounders were forced to punt and the Mariners’ special teams unit blocked the kick, leaving Marriott on the Howe Sound 13-yard-yard line. A couple of plays later, the Mariners ran it in for the major and added the convert.
Through the second, Scott Messier came up with some big rushes for the Sounders, but the team still could not find the end zone and trailed 7-0 at the half.
The third quarter opened with the promise that this might be the Sounders’ year, as Nering broke lose for a long run that put the team in great field position.
At the 9:25 mark, Messier found the end zone on a rush, and after a two-point convert from Nering, Howe Sound led 8-7 but that was as close as the Squamish side got.
From there, Marriott began their air attack, hitting Howe Sound with quick strikes to move the ball upfield or into the end zone.
Even when they botched a play, such as on a couple of snaps on convert attempts, they were able to get the ball into the end zone for two-pointers.
To make matters worse, Marriott, despite holding an ever-growing lead, kept trying onside kicks after their scores and ended up retaining the ball more often than not.
Howe Sound was unable to match Marriott’s passing game and all too often, despite strong performances from Messier through the midfield and Nering out wide, the team could not muster up the yards to keep the ball away from the Mariners’ offence for long.
The second half was one the team would rather forget, although it did end with a touchdown from Nering and a strong defensive push in the final moments, but by that time the game was out of hand, with Marriott able to hang onto its provincial crown.