The Westshore Rebels were the better team and finally bested the V.I. Raiders.
The Rebels earned a 45-22 win over the Raiders on Saturday down the Malahat, marking the first time ever that Nanaimo has lost to Victoria in junior football.
“Every loss kills me, and this is just another one,” said Jerome Erdman, Raiders coach.
The visitors didn’t score an offensive touchdown in the game, but managed to take a 20-17 lead into halftime after two special-teams scores. The second half, however, was lopsided as the Rebels ran at will, scoring four touchdowns and running away with it.
Rebels tailback Jamel Lyles had a monster game, rushing for 270 yards on 32 carries. His yardage was tied for seventh-most in a B.C. Football Conference game.
“He did a really good job of running the ball and we just couldn’t make the tackles when we needed to,” Erdman said.
Josh Paisley, Raiders halfback, said the team needed to wrap up better and finish its tackles, but also do a better job of getting in sync.
“We’ve got to work together and figure out, ‘Where are you going to be at the same time as I’m going to be?’ so that way we know where we’re going without having to think about it,” he said.
The Raiders offence had some early success with the passing game but was erratic in the second half.
“We didn’t move the ball as well offensively as we’d like to, maybe tried to go deep too many times,” Erdman said.
The coach liked that his team didn’t quit and kept its composure even when the contest got out of reach, and will look to turn the loss into a learning experience.
“Whether it’s in a game or it’s in a season, something bad’s going to happen that doesn’t go the way you wanted,” Erdman said. “So how do you react from it? Are we going to sit there and feel sorry for ourselves and mope and make excuses, or are we going to buckle down and work harder?”
Paisley said the loss will motivate his team.
“You know that feeling that you don’t want to feel again, so you just drive harder, work harder to ensure that it never happens again,” he said.
Paisley scored V.I.’s first major, a 65-yard punt-return touchdown late in the first quarter to tie the score 10-10. Just before halftime, Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty recovered a blocked field goal and took it 95 yards for a TD. Bryce Couture kicked a 13-yard field goal, James Parker kicked a 32-yard field goal and V.I.’s only second-half points came on a conceded safety in the dying seconds.
Jake Laberge finished 13-for-25 for 186 yards. Dustin Rodriguez made six catches for 111 yards. Nate Berg had 66 yards on 15 carries.
Defensively, Kaelan Botel and Dexter Shea recovered fumbles and Bailey Pavcek had a sack. Paisley had a blocked kick, six tackles and two assists, Cory Fletcher had four tackles and six assists and Shea had four solo and four assisted.
For the Rebels, Scott Borden threw three touchdown passes, a 75-yard score to Kain Melchior and then connections of 20 yards and 45 yards to Nate Skeete. Borden also had two short rushing TDs and Lyles also scored a TD on a one-yard run. Callum Duke kicked a 42-yard field goal to open the scoring in the game.
Borden finished 10-for-16 for 343 yards. Skeete had five catches for 109 yards. Westshore’s average gain per pass was the highest in BCFC history.
Defensively for the Rebels, Devon Bell and Cody Wist had interceptions and Shaun Robinson had six tackles and a fumble recovery.
GAME ON … The Raiders play the Chilliwack Valley Huskers on Saturday (Aug. 6) at 2 p.m. at Caledonia Park.