Rebels Renew Island Rivalry With Narrow Defeat To Raiders

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Story and images by Erich Eichhorn

August 1, 2105 Langford, B.C. (ISN) – The “New Era” Westshore Rebels Football Club renewed their island BCFC rivalry Saturday night with a nail-biting, narrow 23-21 home opener loss to last year’s second place Vancouver Island Raiders in game two of thier 2015 BCFC campaign.

Rebels 2014 QB, now their 2015 reciever Hunter Lake was named game mvp for his outstanding performance Saturday against the Raiders with runs like this. Lake would record 2 touchdowns on the evening and provide timely yardage to keep the game close. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Rebels, in front of a packed Westhills Stadium filled with football fans of all ages, looked to bounce back after a crushing 78-7, game one loss last weekend to the Okanagan Sun in Kelowna.

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Rebels back up QB Tayln Davies, saw field action running the ball which attracted alot of Raiders attention as shown here – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

With starting QB Liam O’Brien out with an “upper body injury”, the Raiders would run their offence by committee, giving the starting nod to Brody Taylor under centre, and WR Dustin Rodriquez, pulling double duty in back up.  The Westshore Rebels would activate Mt. Douglas high school alumni and ex-University of Manitoba Bison Ashton MacKinnon to go head to head against Taylor and Rodriguez.

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Raider’s Brody Taylor, filling in for injured starter Liam O’Brien, has his work cut out for his Raiders team against the relentless pusuit of a tenacious Rebels defensive line – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

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Rebels starting QB Ashton MacKinnon had no reservation about airing out this ball as a Raider defender slips past on the blind side – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Raiders would dominate the early game with down field plays that would afford the up island team to extend the field, beating the Rebels secondary to set up the first two touch downs of the game by Dustin Rodriquez and Nathan Berg to go up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

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Raider’s Dustin Rodriguez served double duty, working half the game at running back and also being inserted as QB through the middle frames of the game. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Rebels Jordan Worth would be the spark the home team needed with half time nearing, as the power runner would scamper frequently, sometimes with multiple Raider tacklers in tow, for extra yards to lengthen possession time for the young Westshore team. It would take a quarter and a half before the Rebels defense, holding the Raiders down with stronger defensive effort, would afford the offensive squad field time to find their stride.

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Jordan Worth provided the initial offensive spark running with the ball, forcing the VI Raiders to spread the field to stop his outside running game – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

MacKinnon would finally find his scoring touch in hands and feet of the veteran Rebel Hunter Lake. MacKinnon would find Lake for two touchdowns within three minutes late in the second.  Lake would give his team their first points of the game with 8:21 remaining in the second after pulling down a 42 yard MacKinnon pass for the major to energize the partisan crowd. 

 Lake, making the shift this year from QB to receiver / pass runner in his fourth year in the CJFL, looked every bit as agile as he was last year leading his team in rushing yards.

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Hunter Lake helped carry the Westshore Rebels for the last half of the game, setting up field position late in game with an electrifying sideline run to give his team a chance to pull off the upset win – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

When asked about Hunter Lake’s adjustment to his new position Rebels Coach JC Boice would have nothing but compliments about last year’s allstar QB. “ Hunter is a one fantastic human being and a heck of a  (foot)“baller”.

MacKinnon, carrying his coach’s same confidence, would put the ball in the hands of Lake again with five minutes left in the half, scoring his second touchdown of the game on a nine-yard reception. The VI Raiders, after scoring a safety, would extend the lead again before the end of the half when Nathan Berg would run the rock in to the end zone 3 yards for his second TD of the game, taking his team to the locker room up 23-12.

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RB Nathan Berg of the Raiders would score two TDS in the game, always a threat to the Rebels defensive core – Erich Eichhorn image (www.alsportmedia.ca)

The Rebels would continue to impress in the second. Chipping away at field position, the Rebels would force the Raiders to give up a safety, their defense tightening their grip on a faltering Raiders offense.  After 9-10 consecutive completed passes by the Rebels QB Mackinnon, Eric Williams would break loose and run 29 yards to the house to set up an exciting finish with the score 23-21 in favor of the visitors.

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DL Cohan Sassaman of the Rebels was key in mounting the comeback, jumping on a fumbled Raiders ball at midfield for the turnover – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Rebels defense would force the Raiders to punt the ball away late with three minutes remaining, into the waiting hands of Hunter Lake.  Lake would show his athleticism, tip toeing the sideline past Raiders tacklers to the twenty-nine yard line to set up a possible winning field goal attempt.

Rebel’s Jordan Worth, relatively new to the field kicking position, would get a chance to win the game but his kick would be blocked and fall short as Raiders players and fans breathed a sigh of relief.

Head Coach Boice had nothing but praise for his team in the defeat. “We’re finding out we’re a tough football team. The way we came back and fought against a team that beat Langley (Rams)…. We’re finding our feet, and we’re going go to be a lot of fun. Our system takes a little while offensively to get and we’re starting to believe we can move the ball. “

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QB Ashton Mackinnon is sent head over heals tring to run the ball by Raiders defensive back Cole Virtanen – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

Lake, deserving much of the offensive credit in the game, Boice was quick to give credit where credit was due. “ I have to give credit to our offensive line. They did a fantastic job. Ashton is starting to get a rhythm. My system is different and he has to adjust to that. We’re not even close yet, but we’re going to be all right.  I’m extremely proud of our kids and the way they are fighting right now. We’ve got lots to build on.

Post game, Lake would be heard giving a definitive prediction about a September 19th rematch, “ We will beat them next time for sure.”

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Marty the Marmot was in attendance to support the home opener of the Westshore Rebels 2015 campaign – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)

The Rebels would fall 23-21 and go 0-2 in the early season, however, their performance will surely raise eyebrows around the BCFC.  The Rebels take on the Kamloops Broncos next weekend in an away game.

Game stats were not available at submission.

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