V.I. Raiders player Justin Cook tackles Okanagan Sun kick returner Robbie Yochim during Saturday's B.C. Football Conference game at Nanaimo's Caledonia Park. The Sun won 19-7.

V.I. Raiders player Justin Cook tackles Okanagan Sun kick returner Robbie Yochim during Saturday's B.C. Football Conference game at Nanaimo's Caledonia Park. The Sun won 19-7.

Sun sweep past Raiders

Nanaimo's V.I. Raiders were defeated 19-7 by Kelowna's Okanagan Sun on Saturday afternoon at Caledonia Park.

The Raiders couldn’t keep the Sun down for four quarters.

Nanaimo’s V.I. Raiders were defeated 19-7 by Kelowna’s Okanagan Sun on Saturday afternoon at Caledonia Park.

The B.C. Football Conference matchup was a close defensive battle most of the way and was a one-score football game during the second and third quarter before the Sun built some breathing room late. The result means Okanagan sweeps the season series between the rivals, three wins to none.

“I hate losing, but it’s not a step back as long as we’re continually improving…” said Brian Ridgeway, V.I. coach. “I personally think we could have won this game. It was there available for us. We just have to make enough plays at the right time.”

Okanagan controlled the first quarter, gaining yards on the ground and scoring a safety and a short rushing TD. Vancouver Island moved the ball through the air in the second quarter, but fumbled on Okie’s goal line before getting on the board late in the half with a 15-yard TD catch by Arthur Fabbro.

Kelowna extended its lead with a third quarter field goal, and the Sun D was able to wear down the Raiders’ pass-centric offence as the second half went along. Okie finished with seven sacks on V.I. quarterback Liam O’Brien.

“They do play a little bit different of a defence, so it does mess with the reads a little bit,” said Ridgeway. “But we’ve practised it enough … to know that the plays are there. We just have to trust it and execute.”

Nanaimo’s defence gave its offence a chance, limiting Kelowna’s slashing run game during the second and third quarters. Ridgeway said his players were “gap sound,” though there were some missed tackles in the game, he said, that led to Sun first downs.

“When it’s tight like this, every single inch is imperative,” the coach said.

The Raiders actually had a few more first downs and slightly more net offence than the Sun, 372 yards compared to 369. O’Brien finished 27-for-38 passing for 307 yards and rushed for 61 yards. Marshall Cook made 10 catches for 131 yards and Alex Kutra caught five passes for 104.

Quinton Bowles led V.I.’s defence with two solo sacks and two half sacks. Dylan Chapdelaine made three solo tackles and assisted on 10 others. Josh Paisley and Hayden Mebs had interceptions and Cory Lewis recovered a fumble.

Okanagan’s touchdowns were scored by Kasey Russell on a one-yard TD run and by Lerone Robinson on a 33-yard TD reception. Thomas Huber kicked a 26-yard field goal.

Okie’s D was led by Zac Ironstand, who had three sacks and a fumble recovery. Justin Gabriel had a sack and a fumble recovery, Dexter Janke had an interception and Mannu Eli, J.T. Fernandez and Lucas Machado had sacks. Cord Delinte made seven solo tackles and assisted on five more.

Bowles said Saturday’s loss brought the Raiders closer together as a family and as a unit, but he said ultimately, losses don’t get them where they want to go.

“We’re getting closer, but at the end of the day, the ‘W’ counts,” he said.

GAME ON … The Raiders visit the Langley Rams on Saturday (Sept. 20) at McLeod Athletic Park in a 4 p.m. kickoff.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com