With about two minutes left in the fourth quarter of the junior bantam Silver Cup championship game in Westhills Stadium last Saturday, Cowichan Bulldogs head coach Tim Maertz called a timeout.
Maertz’s team had the ball on the Ladysmith Steelers’ 40-yard line, and he wanted his players to do something for him. Left guard Alexis Belton has played the last three seasons with the Bulldogs, but decided to hang up her cleats at the end of this season.
"I have coached her all three of her seasons, and have bugged her that one day I would put her in so she could score a touchdown," Maertz said.
So that’s what Maertz did. A pass to Dakota Cullum got the ball to the one-yard line, setting up an opportunity for Belton to score.
"It was a scene out of a classic sports movie," the coach said.
Belton lined up at running back and took a handoff, only to be stopped. The ref whistled the play dead and informed the teams that there was one minute left to play. On the next down, Belton took the handoff once again and followed the blocking of Nicholas Young over the line to score.
"The team erupted, and so did the fans," Maertz recalled. "It was such a great moment. I want to thank the entire team for helping her get that TD. It meant a lot to her, and to me."
Belton’s major sealed up the 40-15 victory for the Bulldogs as they wrapped up the 2015 spring football season with a championship title.
"I couldn’t be happier," Maertz said. "The team has grown so much. It was so awesome to see the development in the players."
The Bulldogs received the opening kickoff and got themselves into decent field position on their own 40-yard line, giving themselves a chance to go on the offensive right away. Passing on their first two plays, the Bulldogs got a completion on their first attempt, but were intercepted on the second.
"Not what we wanted, but our defence has been solid all season long," Maertz said.
When the Steelers got the ball, the Bulldogs sacked the Ladysmith quarterback for a loss, and the next play led to a fumble which Cullum picked up and ran 40 yards to open the scoring. The Steelers were unable to get a first down on their next possession, and when the Bulldogs had the ball again, Cullum caught a 30-yard pass for Cowichan’s second TD.
"Our defensive line was able to put a lot of pressure on the Steelers QB all game long, creating havoc and confusion in the back field," Maertz said. "The Steelers had some success advancing the ball down into our end of the field, but we held them off the score sheet throughout the first half."
In the second half the Bulldogs were able to move the ball down the field with a great pass to Kilion VennRyan for a first down. After a couple more running plays, Cullum caught another pass to score his third touchdown of the game.
"After that TD there was a sense of victory, and our intensity started to subside," Maertz said.
The Steelers didn’t stop playing, however, and marched down the field to score their first touchdown on a reverse handoff. The teams traded turns on offence, and the Steelers were able to score again on a repeat of the same play. Cowichan got back in action after that, and locked up the victory with Belton’s heroic touchdown.