The V.I. Raiders ‘circus’ came to town and trampled all over the Westshore Rebels.
Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team demolished its rival 72-6 on Saturday night in Victoria.
Seemingly every player in white got into the act as V.I. just kept pouring it on, scoring 34 fourth-quarter points.
“Guys start having fun and then it’s like a circus out here,” said Jordan Yantz, Raiders quarterback.
The Rebels won the coin flip, but that was about it. Raiders defensive back Skylor Letcher intercepted a pass one minute into the game, leading to a Ryan Jones 25-yard field goal to give Nanaimo a 3-0 lead. The visitors didn’t settle for field goals the rest of the way, scoring 10 touchdowns.
“Our goal coming into this game was to get on the field and put points up quick,” Yantz said. “We did that and we didn’t stop doing it.”
The Raiders’ defence was just as thorough, forcing a ridiculous 11 turnovers – five interceptions, five fumbles and one turnover on downs.
“You saw a couple of picks that we got out there, everybody got right jacked up,” said Glenn Boyce, Raiders linebacker. “When big plays happen like that everybody rallies around it. People get excited to get excited.”
Raiders coach Matthew “Snoop” Blokker said players were challenged to put forth a strong start, and they responded on both sides of the ball.
“I don’t think our defence gave up anything in the beginning and we just kept beating on them,” Blokker said.
“And if you keep giving [Yantz] the ball, he’s going to make it happen and he proved it again tonight.”
The Raiders QB was 9-for-15 passing for 256 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. His acrobats in the receiving corps were dynamic, winning every 50-50 ball and never dropping a catchable pass.
Whitman Tomusiak racked up 141 yards, Andrew Smith and Dustin Pedersen had two touchdown catches each and Mike Schaper also had a TD grab. Late in the game rookie Marshall Cook made a circus catch in the endzone for his first CJFL major, diving to catch a deflected ball.
The Raiders also forced a rushing attack, as eight different ball carriers combined for 217 yards on the ground. Alex Jobson scored a 38-yard touchdown in the second quarter in which he broke multiple tackles. Taylor Flavel and Ashton Galloway punched in one-yard TDs.
The game ended when Ranji Atwall intercepted a pass with no time left on the clock and rumbled 46 yards to the endzone.
The Raiders coach said a win like that, when so many different players get into the game and contribute, is huge for team morale.
“I’m really proud of our effort and I’m really proud, more than anything, that we’re playing together as a team,” Blokker said. “We’re starting to feel that.”
Following their biggest-ever regular-season win over the Rebels, the Raiders circus will pack up its tent and prepare for a home opener next Saturday (Aug. 13). But they’ll savour this win, for at least a little while.
“It was awesome, especially because of the rivalry … especially in their park, on their nice field under the lights,” Yantz said. “You don’t very often get to play Saturday night, under the lights. It was great for us and we really enjoyed it.”
GRID BITS … Also intercepting passes Saturday were Tremaine Apperley, Boyce and Ariel Fabbro. Atwall had five tackles and a sack to go with his pick and Anthony Boutet had a sack and a fumble recovery. Nick Woznesensky had two sacks and Boyce, Galloway, Andreas Iwanegbe and Erling Skuggedal had fumble recoveries. Dylan Chapedelaine made five tackles … Backup QB Kurtis Bardua played the fourth quarter, completing 4-of-7 passes for 79 yards, two touchdowns and an interception … Victoria’s starting QB Cat Todorovich was 3-for-12 for 33 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions and the Rebels’ feature back Greg Morris was held to nine yards on nine carries … Saturday’s margin of victory was the greatest in a Nanaimo-Victoria game since July 16, 2005, the very first time the teams ever met on the gridiron, when the Raiders won a pre-season game 83-7 … In other CJFL action Saturday, the Okanagan Sun scored 14 points in the last minute and a half to beat the Langley Rams 33-23 in Kelowna and the Kamloops Broncos beat the Chilliwack Huskers 37-14 in the Fraser Valley.