Raiders tied up by Rams

V.I. Raiders receiver Matt Sawyer eludes Langley Rams tackler Curtis Schindel to score a touchdown during Saturday
V.I. Raiders receiver Matt Sawyer eludes Langley Rams tackler Curtis Schindel to score a touchdown during Saturday's Canadian Junior Football League game at Nanaimo's Caledonia Park. The teams tied 31-31.
— image credit: RACHEL STERN/The News Bulletin

The V.I. Raiders and the Langley Rams were an even match in Week 2. The challenge now for the B.C. Football Conference’s two first-placed teams will be to distinguish themselves as the season continues.

The Raiders and Rams tied 31-31 on Saturday at Nanaimo’s Caledonia Park.

“It was a good offensive game,” said Matthew (Snoop) Blokker, Raiders coach. “Both defences struggled to stop the scoring and both offences kept the pressure on for most of the game.”

V.I.’s home opener was a back-and-forth game, as the visitors led 8-0 but the home team got up 14-8 by halftime. The Raiders extended the lead to 31-23 in the fourth quarter, but the Rams answered with a touchdown and a two-point convert. Each team had one more possession to try to break the tie, but the Rams’ 47-yard field goal attempt with no time left was unsuccessful.

“The game ended and to us, we really felt like it was a loss and to them, it really felt like it was a win…” Blokker said. “I understand coming back and tying a game, how that would make you feel more of a positive than being in the lead and then losing it to get a tie.”

Raiders quarterback Jordan Yantz threw for 416 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions on 22-for-31 passing. His primary target was Dustin Rodriguez, who caught a touchdown and four other balls for 133 yards total. Matt Sawyer had two TD grabs, Whitman Tomusiak had five catches for a TD and 91 yards and Mike Schaper had 74 receiving yards.

Blokker said Yantz had a strong game but suggested the quarterback will be thinking more about the final, fruitless drive, than the four passing TDs.

“We had a good opportunity and decent field position to drive down and get some points and it didn’t happen…” said the coach. “When we have the ball and a chance to go out and win the game, we’ve got to put a drive together.”

The Raiders only had 63 rush yards, 44 of those from the QB. Blokker said the team was having success with a five-receiver set,  so it was just a matter of sticking with what was working offensively.

“It got us 31 points and at the end of the day, 31 points should be enough to win a game,” he said.

Defensively, Raiders linebacker Jon Jones had eight tackles and a fumble recovevery and shared a sack with Ash Gayat, who had five tackles and a forced fumble. Dylan Chapdelaine and James Riley made eight tackles apiece.

Rams QB Greg Bowcott connected on 23-of-31 passing for 286 yards, four TDs and no INTs. His top pass-catcher was Malcolm Williams, who had eight grabs for 111 yards. Rams tailback Daniel Xavier pounded out 125 yards on 22 carries.

Carlo Graziano led Langley's defence with six tackles and Dan Broberg, Sheldon Van Roon and Daniel Sharpe had sacks.

GAME ON … The Raiders (1-0-1) play the Okanagan Sun (1-1) on Saturday (Aug. 18) at 5 p.m. at Caledonia Park … Mark Mueller’s field goal and four converts against the Rams give him 366 career points and move him past former Raiders kicker Scott Dixon (361) into second place all-time in B.C. Football Conference scoring. Raiders alumnus Andrew Harris holds the record (504).

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