Raiders Advance to Cullen Cup

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Story and Images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)

October 22, 2012, Nanaimo, BC – The Vancouver Island Raiders defeated the Okanagan Sun 35-8 in a second half comeback at Caledonia Field in Naniamo in BCFC semi-final action on Saturday afternoon.

The Okanagan Sun had been the only team to put a scare into the flawless Raiders team this year, with a combined point differential of only 3 points separating Suns and Raiders in the 2 previous regular season meetings. Needless to say, Coach Snoop Blokker’s team came into Saturday’s game wary of the Raiders history against the 2012 BCFC’s fourth place team.

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Raiders #12 Tomusiak just misses the pass from Yantz downfield– Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

Jordan Yantz, the CJFL’s single season passing record holder, unquestionably got the starting nod for the Raiders, but the Suns would get the first crack at the end zone. The Sun’s would open the scoring quickly at 11:43 of the first, taking advantage of a tentative Raiders defense when Suns’ QB Cam Bedore would hand the ball to his running back #26 Alex Bradley for a 52 yard rushing play, carrying the ball to the end zone for the only major of the first half.

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Raiders Matt Sawyer pulls down a Jordan Yantz pass to spark a Raiders comeback – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

The Raiders offense would uncharacteristically sputter as the revved up Suns defensive core would stick to the Raiders offense, taking away Yantz’s downfield go-to receivers. Yantz would find himself sacked three times in the half as the Raiders offensive line would have difficulties containing the Sun’s defense. Raider’s would rely on their kicker Mueller for their 1st half points scoring a safety and a touch back to close out the half with the Suns taking a surprising 8-3 lead into the locker room. The Raiders would go into the locker room at be half putting up the fewest points in recent memory.

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#12 Whitman Tomusiak flies over the Okanagan defenfer looking to pull down the ball. The ball would be tipped and eventually caught for the TD by Tomusiak – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

The Raiders would take the field in the second half a different team from the first half, turning out the lights on the Okanagan Sun. Raiders’s Rodriguez would return the Suns opening half kick off for a large gain seemingly setting the tone for the half. Yantz, on a QB keeper, would finally find the end zone from the one-yard line after a 39 yard completed pass to Sawyer downfield early in the third that would open the Raiders scoring floodgates. Yantz would find the house 3 more times in the half on TD’s by Rodriguez and Tomusiak, while tallying 2 rushing TD’s himself on the day, with one of those in the 3rd quarter.

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#16 Jordan Yantz would rush for 2 touchdowns on the afternoon in semi-final BCFC action against the Okanagan Sun – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

When questioned about the Raiders 2nd half turnaround Yantz would comment, “Coming out in the second we finally decided to get things rolling. Once we get into the end zone once, we’ve happen to get into the end zone more than a few times. Coach Snoop reminded us of the guys that we are, and how hard we worked to get to this point and we don’t want to throw it out the window now. He reminded us we’re a bunch of playmakers out here and we deserved to win this game,” Yantz would add.

Boyce would come up big for the Raiders defense with 2 interceptions on the day. Raiders would post a dominate the second half performance, posting 31 unanswered points against the Suns as both the offensive and defensive units of the Raiders would find their stride, finishing off the stubborn Suns and advancing to the Cullen Cup against the Langley Rams next Saturday at home in Naniamo. Game start time is 1:00 pm

Gridiron note:

Raiders alumni, and BC Lions player Andrew Harris would be present for the game, showing his continued support for his old team by taking the field and kicking a ceremonial kick off to the Raiders, and signing autographs for Raider and Suns fans alike at games end. Friday night Andrew Harris became only the 9th Canadian to run for more than 1000 yards in a single season in CFL history.

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BC Lions RB and Raiders alumni Andrew Harris poses for ISN with photographer Erich Eichhorn of ISN Saturday in Naniamo -– Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

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