Greg Morris single-handedly killed the Kamloops Broncos' playoff hopes.
Morris, a running back for the Westshore Rebels, rushed for a Canadian Junior Football League record 405 yards in a 37-22 victory over the Broncos at Hillside Stadium on Saturday. The loss means Kamloops (2-7) will miss the B.C. Football Conference playoffs for the sixth straight year.
The Broncos went into the game knowing two things:
1. They had to win in order to have any chance of making playoffs;
2. In order to win, they had to stop Morris, the BCFC's leading rusher by a mile.
Neither of those things happened.
"I thought we played very well in the first half," said Broncos head coach Duncan Olthuis on Monday. "We had them where we wanted them, but it got away from us.
"Greg Morris, once he hit that second level, he was gone."
That might be an understatement.
Morris's 405 yards are 40 more than the previous CJFL record - Jordan Samoil of the Prairie Conference's Edmonton Wildcats rushed for 365 yards on Sept. 21. The old BCFC record was held by Eric Scott of the Richmond Raiders, who totaled 338 yards on Sept. 22, 1985.
Much of Morris's yardage came in the fourth quarter, when Westshore scored 20 unanswered points to come back from a 22-17 hole. Morris, described by Olthuis as "a man amongst boys," scored on a 62-yard run early in the fourth, then iced the game with a 91-yarder with 38 seconds remaining.
"Our game plan was to stop Greg," Olthuis said. "He had something like 130 yards going into the fourth . . . then he just exploded."
Morris also scored on a one-yard plunge in the first quarter and a 34-yard scamper in the second.
"He's physical, about 230 pounds, but he's also fast," Olthuis said of the 20-year-old Morris, who is a native of Toronto. "If he finds an inch of daylight, he's gone."
Morris's great day ruined what had been a decent effort for the Broncos.
Morris's first touchdown and a Quinn Van Gylswyk field goal gave the Rebels a 10-0 lead after a quarter, but Kamloops fought back to take the lead before halftime.
Tyler Lee, who plays tight end and defensive end, scored on a 21-yard reception from Connor Whitelaw to get Kamloops on the board, but Morris's second score put the Rebels ahead 17-7.
Derek Apps got the Broncos going again, returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown. Before the second quarter was out, Mike McMaster, who carried the ball 20 times for 126 yards, scored for Kamloops, giving it a 21-17 lead.
An Aaron Smit single made it 22-17 heading into the fourth, where Morris's heroics were helped out by Van Gylswyk's two field goals.
The Broncos have one game remaining - they will play the Huskers (0-9) in Chilliwack on Saturday - but this season will end like all the others before it, with no postseason. Kamloops joined the BCFC in 2007, and has never won more than three games in a season.
"Whenever you don't make the playoffs, you can't consider it a great season," Olthuis said. "But this is the closest we've been, and we have a great core of kids coming back."
Seven Broncos players will be too old to play next season - Apps, defensive back Shayne Arthurs, offensive lineman Dan Hodges, Lee, McMaster, defensive back Adam Nesbitt and receiver Brennan Plante.
"Those are pretty talented guys," Olthuis said. "Hopefully we can limit the blow from losing them."
EXTRA POINTS: Attendance was 408. . . . The Rebels (7-2) will finish the season against the Vancouver Island Raiders on Saturday in Nanaimo. The first-place Raiders (8-0-1) defeated the host Langley Rams 34-32 on Saturday, while the Okanagan Sun pounded Chilliwack 36-0. The Sun (3-6) will play host to Langley (6-2-1) on Saturday. . . . Morris has rushed for 1,471 yards this season, and has scored 17 touchdowns. The BCFC record for touchdowns in a season is 24, held by former Raiders running back Andrew Harris, who did it in 2009. The conference record for rushing yards in a season is 1,592, set by Matt Medwick of the Valley Huskers in 2000. . . . With one game remaining, Morris has rushed for the third-most yards in BCFC history, behind Medwick's record and Harris's 1,476 yards in 2009.