It was closer than it needed to be, but the Nanaimo Redmen won and get to move on.
The city’s Vancouver Mainland Football League midget team defeated the Chilliwack Giants 22-14 in playoff action Sunday at May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park.
The underdog Giants gave the home team a scare, driving the field late before Nanaimo’s Jacob Odynsky came up with an interception on his own three-yard line with 47 seconds to go. The Redmen killed most of the clock, but then made a mistake trying to concede a safety and gave the Giants a couple more downs in the red zone.
“It’s when you’ve really got to step up…” said David Work, Redmen linebacker. “This is it; your season in one play. What are you going to do? Players stepped up.”
Marcus Severe made an interception with zeroes on the clock to clinch the victory.
Sean Roden, Redmen coach, said his team kept calm in that critical situation in the dying seconds.
“I think the defence had played so well during the day that they had the confidence that they could execute what we were trying to do,” he said. “And they did.”
Sunday’s game was sloppy at times, as the red team turned the ball over too often in the first half, allowing the visitors to hang around. But the Redmen D did the things it’s been doing all season, making tackles with a swarm of red jerseys or just a solo effort.
“There was a lot of one-on-ones in open field that we made the tackle, and that’s key so you don’t give up big plays,” Roden said.
Jonah Wassell returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and Ethan Schulz scored a short rushing touchdown.
Work had an interception and a strong all-around game to lead the D and Riley Savard had a fumble recovery.
GAME ON … The Redmen play the Cowichan Bulldogs Sunday (Nov. 24) in Duncan.