Pass-happy Raiders set record in win

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team beat Victoria’s Westshore Rebels 52-8 on Saturday. It was the Raiders’ umpteenth win over the Rebels, but this one was unique.

V.I. Raiders kick returner Andrew DeLeon evades two Westshore Rebels opponents during Saturday's Canadian Junior Football League game at Caledonia Park.

V.I. Raiders kick returner Andrew DeLeon evades two Westshore Rebels opponents during Saturday's Canadian Junior Football League game at Caledonia Park.

The V.I. Raiders, coming off a bye week, were sharp. Boy, were they sharp.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team beat Victoria’s Westshore Rebels 52-8 on Saturday. It was the Raiders’ umpteenth win over the Rebels, but this one was unique.

The Raiders’ pass game was outstanding; in fact, it was record-setting – V.I. quarterbacks Jordan Yantz and Kurtis Bardua combined to throw for 498 yards, the most in team history. Nanaimo’s 732 yards of total offence Saturday was the second most in B.C. Football Conference history.

Over the course of the afternoon, Yantz climbed to second all-time in BCFC career passing yards, and coach Matthew “Snoop” Blokker moved to second all-time in coaching wins.

Blokker credited the rest of his staff for Saturday’s big win, mentioning how defensive coordinator Doug Hocking’s D eliminated Westshore’s pass game, while offensive coordinator Daryl Rodgers’ attack exposed the Rebels’ pass coverage.

“We saw on film a couple things and they didn’t want to adjust to it,” said Blokker. “They didn’t want to cover [Andrew Smith]. I give a lot of credit to coach DR because one of the hardest things to do as a coordinator is keep running the same play.”

Smith ended up with a monster game, making six catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

The most memorable catch of the day, however, was an easy basket catch by Matt Sawyer for the Raiders’ final TD. Pass protection broke down and Yantz had to duck two different Rebels tackles and scramble out of the pocket. He could have gained the first down with his feet, but had the wherewithal to turn the play into a touchdown, instead.

“He got his eyes upfield and didn’t cross the line of scrimmage and he delivered the ball perfectly…” Blokker said. “When he starts to get dialled in it’s a different game and we saw that.”

The Rebels looked to have a good thing going on their first drive, running the ball the length of the field before Raiders DB Adam Laurensse picked off a pass in the endzone, his first of two picks on the day.

The game turned early in the second quarter. After Smith caught a 14-yard touchdown to make it 10-0, Victoria fumbled on the ensuing kick return and Yantz immediately made them pay with another 14-yard touchdown throw, this time to Mike Schaper.

“When we create a turnover, we make teams pay for it. Whenever they turn the ball over, one or two plays later we’re in the endzone,” Matt Blokker said. “That sure kills a team and kills their spirit.”

Victoria got a huge game from its tailback Greg Morris, who gained 205 yards. The Rebels’ pass game, in contrast, was nowhere to be found as the team’s QBs combined to go 0-for-14 for zero yards and two interceptions.

Raiders linebacker Andrew Oake, who had a game-high six tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, said his team didn’t expect to blow out the improved Rebels the way they did.

“We did make mistakes in this game,” he said. “There’s always things you’ve got to fix in practice. It’s going to make us see where we need to improve and we’re going to get better. Even better than we are now.”

GRID BITS … Yantz finished the game 18-for-27 for 386 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Raiders tailback Jordan Botel gained 136 yards on 12 carries and scored a TD. Dustin Pedersen made five catches for 77 yards, Whitman Tomusiak had two catches for 64 yards, Arthur Fabbro caught two passes for 53 yards and Schaper had four catches for 52 yards. On defence, Ranji Atwall had six tackles and Teddy Ash, James Riley and Ash Gayat had sacks … Yantz started the day fifth all-time in BCFC career passing yards, and surpassed Derek Mann, Nate Cote and Al Walls over the course of the afternoon. He now has 6,579 career passing yards, 385 behind the BCFC’s all-time leader Ken Yiem. The CJFL mark is 9,370, set by John Makie … The Raiders’ 732 pass yards were the most in the BCFC since Aug. 22, 2009, when the Raiders compiled 789 yards against the Vancouver Trojans … V.I.’s 498 pass yards surpassed the 480 they had last season in a game against Chilliwack … Blokker, who received his first-ever game ball from team president Hadi Abassi on Saturday, is now 13 wins away from setting a new B.C. mark … The Raiders visit the Kamloops Broncos on Saturday (Sept. 17).

sports@nanaimobulletin.com