Nick Robinson, defensive lineman for the V.I. Raiders, tackles Kamloops Broncos QB Nicolas Nica in the team’s home opener on Saturday. The Raiders won 47-17. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

V.I. Raiders earn first win of the season

Raiders blow out Kamloops Broncos in home opener in Nanaimo

With starting QB Jake Laberge injured, backup Cole McGarvey rose to the occasion and steered the Vancouver Island Raiders to a 47-17 win over the Kamloops Broncos Saturday afternoon.

The Raiders had lost their first two of the season, both on the road, but put on a strong performance at Caledonia Park in the team’s first win. Laberge suffered a shoulder injury late in the team’s loss to the Westshore Rebels last week and Curtis Vizza, Raiders’ head coach, said McGarvey got first-team reps in practice in the lead up to the home opener. Vizza was pleased with McGarvey’s play.

“With Cole McGarvey, he’s been here day in and day out,” said Vizza. “He’s been a leader on and off the field for a while now. For him to step up in this role, it’s not a major transition for us. Cole knows the offence, he’s got a lot of respect from everyone here and showing here today, he can be our guy.”

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McGarvey said he relished the opportunity to start, especially in front of the Caledonia Park faithful, and the team, who went into halftime with a 22-14 lead, came on in the third and fourth quarters.

“I think we came out a little sloppy, but it was just all on us, things we could fix, little things,” said McGarvey, about the play of the offence. “I think the second half was more of our [game], but we still need to play a 60-minute game.”

Andre Goulbourne, V.I. running back, said it was good to finally stop a two-game slide.

“It was a big relief, you know? We were coming in, ready for these guys and we got it done,” said Goulbourne.

McGarvey finished 17-for-27 passing for 406 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. Mike West had eight catches for 140 yards and Jared Braun had three catches for 111 yards. Goulbourne carried the ball 18 times and gained 125 yards.

Defensively, Andre Gordon had two interceptions and Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty and Nils Haeni also had picks. Ethan Moran had five tackles, Tyler Hill had a fumble recovery and Matt Hill and Doug Thornton had sacks.

The win not only represented the first win of the season, it also was Vizza’s first as head coach of the Raiders. Vizza was promoted from offensive line coach last November, replacing Doug Hocking.

Laberge is listed as week-to-week, according to Vizza.

GAME ON … The Raiders will host the Okanagan Sun Satuday, Aug. 24 at Caledonia Park. Kickoff is at 3 p.m.

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