The V.I. Raiders didn’t make enough plays to provide much opposition in the B.C. final.
The Raiders were shut out 54-0 by the Okanagan Sun in the B.C. Football Conference championship game Sunday at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl stadium.
The Sun scored on their first drive of the game and led 8-0 after one quarter. A turning point came early in the second, when the Raiders had some bad luck on a tipped pass that ended up in a Sun interception. One play later, Okie scored a 15-yard passing touchdown. The home team kept the pedal down during the second quarter and took a 32-0 lead into halftime. The Raiders gave it their all to try to snap the shutout, but couldn’t.
“We knew they were going to be a tough team, they have been all year, they haven’t lost a game…” said Liam O’Brien, Raiders quarterback. “They played well.”
Brennan Van Nistelrooy, Sun safety, said his team came out fast and excited in the final.
“All three facets of the game were really well executed,” he said. “The offence took the pressure off the defence and the defence took the pressure off the O.”
The Raiders, on the other hand, weren’t at their best on either side of the ball. Coach Jerome Erdman said it was a combination of errors that cost his team. There were mistakes here and there – a missed assignment, or a wrong route or a dropped ball. A good team like the Sun capitalized and kept piling up the points.
“We just didn’t make the plays when we had an opportunity to make a play,” said Erdman. “I don’t think any facet of our team played very well today.”
The Raiders weren’t able to connect on any long-bomb passes, a trademark of their offence this year. It didn’t help that their top receiver, Dustin Rodriguez, left Sunday’s game in the first half with injury, and Okie’s coverage was airtight.
“Their defence does a good job, they have all year, at stopping the deep pass. You’ve kind of got to nickel and dime them and that was the game plan at the beginning, but as soon as they got off to a big lead, you’ve kind of got to try and make a play, but their defence is pretty good at shutting that down,” O’Brien said.
He said the score wasn’t indicative of the game.
“If we took advantage of a couple of things at the beginning, I think it could have been a really different game,” he said.
The QB said players kept fighting and kept their heads up all game, and the coach agreed.
“They battled right to the end. Nobody quit, and that’s what being a Raider’s all about. That aspect, I’m really proud of,” Erdman said. “We came a long way this season. We took a couple of steps towards where we want to be. Obviously we didn’t get there and obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do, if we’re going to be honest about it. But certainly this season we made some strides and I think we surprised a few people.”
O’Brien finished 11-for-32 for 107 passing yards and added 49 rushing yards. Rodriguez had 32 receiving yards.
Defensively, Josh Paisley made six tackles, Adam McDonald had five tackles and an interception, Corey Lewis also had an interception and Dexter Shea had five tackles and a sack.
For the Sun, Kory Nagata had 93 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Cam Bedore was 14-for-21 for 247 passing yards and had 66 rush yards and a rushing TD. Other Okanagan touchdowns were scored by Kyle Patchell, Abdi-Nasir Abdi and Kasey Russell and Thomas Huber kicked three field goals.
Defensively for the Sun, Van Nistelrooy had two picks, Layne Hull had six tackles, a sack and an interception and Jonas Gering had one and a half sacks.
The Sun will travel to play the Saskatoon Hilltops in the Canadian Bowl in two weeks’ time.