The V.I Raiders kept their eye on the ball and it lifted them to a big win against the Okanagan Sun.
Nanaimo defeated Kelowna 37-13 in B.C. Football Conference action on Saturday at Caledonia Park. Five interceptions by the Raiders’ defence were instrumental in the outcome.
“Our effort was outstanding,” said Curtis Vizza, Raiders coach. “In the third quarter, Okanagan was pressing hard and the momentum of the game was swinging in their favour. Veteran players stepped up and made big plays, we felt momentum shift into our favour, so I’m really proud of my guys for how they battled from start to finish.”
The Raiders built a 17-5 halftime lead as quarterback Cole McGarvey connected on touchdown passes to Alex Bonnetplume and North Rainey. The Sun controlled the third quarter and got as close as 17-13, but a pick six by Ethan Moran – his second interception of the game – was a turning point and the Raiders poured it on and made the outcome look lopsided.
Moran said the Raiders’ D struggled in some areas of the game, specifically against the run, but managed to make some adjustments and made plays when needed.
“We focus all year and every practice on focusing on us and what we do on the field,” he said. “We’re going to give up plays, they’re going to make plays but it’s how we respond.”
McGarvey was 14-for-25 passing for 268 yards with two TDs and two INTs. Eli Nelms-Horton had 139 receiving yards.
Jason Henderson scored a 24-yard touchdown run during which he broke through five tackles, and Andre Goulbourne had 76 rushing yards.
Defensively, in addition to Moran’s interceptions, Jérémie Cheng had two interceptions including a pick six and Blake Johnson also had an interception. Nils Haeni had a sack and a fumble recovery. Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty made five tackles to go with two knockdowns and Nick Robinson also had five tackles. Tyler Hill forced a fumble.
Sun quarterbacks were limited to 7-for-26 passing for 79 yards and five interceptions, but Sun ball carriers combined for 252 rushing yards.
“This was a big game for us, coming in with a losing record, going into the bye week especially, we needed a momentum game,” Moran said. “We came out and I think we proved a few people wrong, but we also have a lot of work to do for the rest of the season.”
GAME ON … The Raiders have a bye week before playing the Valley Huskers on the road Sept. 8. Next home action is Sept. 14 when the Raiders host the first-place Langley Rams at 2 p.m. at Caledonia Park.
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) August 25, 2019