The Mission Roadrunners pulled out a nail-biter, beating Ballenas 28-27 in Double-A semifinal action Saturday at UBC.
With 47 seconds remaining, and No. 4-ranked Ballenas having marched 63 yards down field to score a touchdown and pull within a point of the No. 2-ranked, defending B.C. champion Mission Roadrunners at 28-27, the Ballenas coach elected to go for two points and a win, instead of kicking a single and playing for overtime.
It didn't work, the score held and now Mission is off to the Double-A varsity football final for the third straight year.
The game was not without plenty of drama as the Roadrunners did some gambling of their own and failed on the play that set up Ballenas' late, dramatic drive.
Mission elected to run a shot pass play on fourth down but couldn't convert, allowing Ballenas to take over at its own 37 with 2: 24 remaining, trailing 28-21.
"I felt I wanted to keep the ball in our playmakers' hands, and let them end the game," Mission head coach Kevin Watrin explained of his team's late gamble, which almost backfired.
"We were indecisive as coaches as to, did we want to punt it and give them the long field, or go for it.
"I guess that's why I get paid the big dollars," laughed Watrin. "I'm more conservative by nature but I decided to go for it."
The Roadrunners found their way to the end zone on its opening possession of the game.
Wayde Carpenter recovered a Ballenas fumble, and soon after running back Evan Horton scored with a three-yard run.
"I was just so happy we made it, and there's no better feeling," said Horton who also recorded a team-high 10 tackles. "And this is my third year in a row. You can't describe the feeling."
Horton, who filled in for injured quarterback Kevin Wiens earlier this season, was workman-like and effective all day, carrying 21 times for 140 yards, while Roadrunners' QB Kevin Wiens continued to astound with his running ability, rushing 11 times for 78 yards and three touchdowns, including a 37-yard effort early in the third quarter that put the Roadrunners on top 21-14.
"That is what he is all about," said Watrin.
"Any play, he can just break it. He is the most dangerous player in Double A, for sure."
Wiens' four-yard run in the second quarter knotted the score at 14-14, and after the Whalers came up short on a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, Wiens began the second by ripping off a 34-yard scoring scamper.
The Roadrunners will now face South Delta in the Double-A final Saturday at BC Place Stadium.