The V.I. Raiders made a game of it, but eventually lost in a rematch of last year’s B.C. championship final.
The Raiders were defeated by the Okanagan Sun 37-19 in B.C. Football Conference action on Saturday at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl stadium.
“The game was a heck of a lot closer than the score indicated,” said Jerome Erdman, coach of the Raiders.
He said the turning point came during the fourth quarter, when V.I. had three bad plays in a row that cost them 10 quick points. The Raiders turned the ball over, their quarterback got injured, they had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown, and then they had an unlucky interception on a deflected ball that set up a field goal.
“I thought our defence played very well. Whenever we did turn over the ball, they did a great job of limiting them to a field goal,” said Erdman.
He also thought the offence played some of its best football of the year, though it didn’t translate into enough points.
“I thought the coaches did a great job with the game plan and everything. We weren’t consistent again,” he said. “Penalties and turnovers killed drives for us, which we can’t do against good teams like that.”
Nanaimo led for stretches of the first half, but Okanagan took a 24-17 lead into halftime and remained in control over the third and fourth quarters.
After the Raiders opened the scoring with a 32-yard field goal from James Parker, the Sun capped a 75-yard drive on a two-yard plunge by quarterback Foster Martens.
The Raiders responded with a long drive and touchdown of their own to regain the lead, with QB Jake Laberge scoring.
A turnover led to another Sun touchdown drive, and the home team went up by two touchdowns after a passing major.
The Raiders responded with touchdown connection from Laberge to receiver Dustin Rodriguez.
Okie’s second-half touchdown came on a special-teams play as a punt block was returned to the endzone.
Laberge finished 11-for-22 for 212 yards. He suffered a lower-body injury late in the game and the severity isn’t yet known.
Rodriguez had 103 receiving yards and Nathan Berg had 64 rush yards.
On defence, Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty led the way with nine tackles and Josh Paisley had six. Alex Eberling and Cole Virtanen had interceptions.
This article will be updated later today (Aug. 15) with coach’s comments.
GAME ON … The Raiders host the Langley Rams on Saturday (Aug. 20) at 2 p.m. at Caledonia Park.