The V.I. Raiders clinched first place in last-second style.
Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team defeated the Langley Rams 34-32 on Saturday in the Fraser Valley on Mark Mueller’s 41-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.
The game didn’t look as though it was going to require last-second heroics, as the visitors led 31-18 at the three-minute warning. But the Rams’ Nick Downey caught a short touchdown pass to narrow the margin, his team was successful on an onside kick, and then Langley’s Joe Patko punched in a one-yard rushing TD to give the Rams the lead.
Taking over at their own 33-yard line with 1:03 left on the clock, the Raiders drove their way into Mueller range and the veteran kicked the winning points just inside the near post.
V.I. quarterback Jordan Yantz was selected as the player of the game as he threw for 406 yards on 24-of-34 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also led the Raiders in rushing on Saturday with seven carries for 51 yards and a TD.
Matt Sawyer caught two touchdowns among his eight catches and 69 yards. Whitman Tomusiak made six catches for 146 yards. Mueller finished 3-for-4 on field goals, missing a 44-yarder.
The Raiders’ defence was led by linebacker Dylan Chapdelaine, who had five tackles, one assisted tackle and three sacks. Glenn Boyce had five tackles and a sack, Tremaine Apperley had an interception and Quinton Clarke recovered a fumble.
The win assured the Raiders (8-0-1) of first place in the B.C. Football Conference and home-field advantage throughout the post-season.
GAME ON … The Raiders close out the regular season Saturday (Oct. 13) with a game against the Westshore Rebels at 2 p.m. at Caledonia Park. The following week, the Raiders open the playoffs Oct. 20 with a semifinal matchup at Caledonia against the Okanagan Sun … Yantz now has 3,017 passing yards this season, a new BCFC record. Nate Cote set the old record with the Victoria Rebels in 2007 when he threw for 2,988 yards. Yantz needs just 14 yards in his final regular-season game to establish a new CJFL record.