V.I. Raiders safety Cole Bishop

V.I. Raiders safety Cole Bishop

V.I. Raiders block out Sun

The Okanagan Sun couldn’t beat the V.I. Raiders at Caledonia Park. No visiting teams ever can.

The Okanagan Sun couldn’t beat the V.I. Raiders at Caledonia Park. No visiting teams ever can.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team won its 40th straight home game on Saturday, 33-20 over Kelowna.

“To reach the 40 mark is huge,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders coach. “There’s so much pride in our team right now because this is the group of guys that did it, and reached that mark and kept it going.”

As expected, the Sun made sure the outcome was in doubt – Okie erased an early 14-0 deficit to hold a 17-14 edge at halftime.

“We believe in each other, so there’s never a panic. We think we’re going to win every game we play so [Saturday] was no different…” Blokker said.

“We did what the Raiders do best. We make adjustments and we come out and we play a better game in the second half.”

The V.I. team scored on its first possession of the third quarter to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The Sun had a chance at a last-minute drive late in the fourth quarter, but the home team ended the threat with an interception then a touchdown.

Blokker said his team was able to win battles all over the field. He praised the offensive line, which helped tailback Jordan Botel run for 165 yards on 24 carries, and provided protection for quarterback Jordan Yantz, who was 20-for-28 for 300 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Mike Schaper led all receivers with seven catches totalling 137 yards and he, Botel, Whitman Tomusiak and Andrew Smith caught TD passes.

“Everybody caught footballs and everybody fought for the extra yards and blocked extra hard,” said the coach.

On D, the front seven limited Okanagan’s feature back Armand Bokitch to 13 yards on six carries.

“We absolutely squashed and destroyed their run game completely, which made them one-dimensional,” Blokker said.

So the Sun were forced to go to the air and although quarterback Jeremy Joseph-Mraovic completed 14-of-26 passes for 249 yards and a TD, he also threw three interceptions to Adam Laurensse, Ariel Fabbro and Glenn Boyce.

Nick Woznesensky and Dylan Chapdelaine each had five tackles and Ash Gayat had a sack.

GAME ON … The V.I. Raiders have a bye week; their next action is Sept. 10 when the Westshore Rebels visit Caledonia Park for a 2 p.m. kickoff.