V.I. Raiders tailback Nate Berg jumps overtop of Langley Rams opponent Rene Sencio during Saturday’s B.C. Football Conference game at Caledonia Park. The visitors won 29-14.

V.I. Raiders tailback Nate Berg jumps overtop of Langley Rams opponent Rene Sencio during Saturday’s B.C. Football Conference game at Caledonia Park. The visitors won 29-14.

V.I. Raiders start fast, then sag in loss

NANAIMO – City's junior football team jumps to 14-0 lead, but gets shut out the rest of the way in 29-14 setback against Langley Rams.

The Raiders had the right kind of start, but weren’t at their best when the game was on the line.

The V.I. Raiders suffered their first home loss of 2016, falling 29-14 to the Langley Rams on Saturday at Caledonia Park.

“I’m not going to sugar-coat it: right now we’re not good enough; we’re not playing well…” said Jerome Erdman, Raiders coach. “Physically the guys are giving the effort and stuff like that. Mentally, we don’t got a spring in our step and we’ve got to find a way to get that.”

Nanaimo was ready to go at kickoff, scoring a touchdown just 80 seconds into the game and adding another by the midway point of the first quarter.

But a lack of balance on offence was further hurt by an offensive line injury, and the Raiders moved the ball only inconsistently the rest of the afternoon. The Rams weren’t prolific offensively, either, but the team scored enough points to win.

“We had a lot of ups and downs,” said Dexter Shea, Raiders linebacker. “We didn’t play football consistently enough. We didn’t play a full four quarters and that kind of blew it for us.”

A couple of turning points were a Rams fumble recovery touchdown late in the third quarter when the Raiders’ quarterback was hit while trying to pass, and then a Raiders roughing-the-kicker penalty on a Rams punt with one minute, 45 seconds left in the game.

“When you get bad bounces you get frustrated and you can kind of start to bend,” said Shea.

Kevin Chopek got his first start at quarterback for V.I. in place of injured No. 1 Jake Laberge. Chopek threw two TD passes, both to receiver Jared Braun, who was also making his first start.

Chopek finished 15-for-36 for 232 yards with two TDs and two interceptions and was also V.I.’s top rusher with 20 yards.

“For what we asked him to do, I thought he did a pretty good job,” said Erdman. “We came up 14-0, we were moving the ball well and stuff like that and we couldn’t maintain.”

Dustin Rodriguez was the Raiders’ top receiver with 82 yards, while Braun added 63.

Defensively, Shea had five solo tackles and three assisted and Nathan Warawa had a sack.

V.I. offensive tackle Terrek Bryant will be evaluated after an injury.

For the visitors, Rams QB Colby Peters was 11-for-25 for 125 yards and running back Joe Carter gained 86 rushing yards. Khalik Johnson and Jordan Fox scored touchdowns. Brendan Desjardine had both a fumble recovery touchdown and an interception.

Raiders reach midway mark

The Raiders (2-3) are now at the midpoint of the BCFC regular season and have played every team in the league once.

Despite the sub-.500 record, the Raiders believe they’re right in the mix with B.C.’s best.

“I think we match up really well,” Shea said. “We’ve just got to bring it all together, honestly. Things like this [loss] are frustrating, but confidence isn’t shaken. We’ve got a really good team.”

The coaching staff has the same stance, but Erdman said the Raiders can only beat the best teams if they execute properly.

“There’s nobody in this league that is untouchable, that is unbeatable,” Erdman said. “If we play like we can play, like we’re capable of playing, we can beat anybody in this league.”

GAME ON … The Raiders visit the Kamloops Broncos on Saturday (Aug. 27). V.I. doesn’t play a home game again until Sept. 17, when the Westshore Rebels visit Caledonia Park for a 2 p.m. kickoff.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com