Story and Images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)
September 20, 2015 Nanaimo, BC (ISN) – All it took was nail biting, early season Rebels loss, a long-standing island rivalry, and a post game prediction to set the tone for a pivotal VI Raiders 35-16 win over the Westshore Rebels Saturday at Caledonia Park in Nanaimo.
Westshore Rebels showed glimmers of brillant play, but not enough bright spots to keep pace with the VI Raiders in BCFC play Saturday in Nanaimo. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Raiders’, looking to atone for the 23-21 near loss to the Westshore Rebels in week two of the BC Football Conference season, let the rumor mill of a Rebels-predicted, rematch win fuel the on-field rivalry. With every bit the bravado of a playoff game, both teams had something to prove to the stands full of supporters and themselves. For the Raiders’, the security of a playoff berth and another island rival win. For the Rebels, knowing that a post season was still a possibility.
The surging Rebels, known for surprising top tier teams, came to this game after a narrow 37-36 loss to the Kamloops Broncos and a 27-22 win in Chilliwack to the Huskers last weekend, looking to do the same to the Raiders.
A hard hitting game on both sides, Cole Virtanen finds his mark on Rebel’s Calvin Johnson – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Rebels fourth year WR and backup QB Hunter Lake would take the ball under center, replacing the missing star QB Ashton MacKinnon. Looking like he hadn’t missed a step from his 2014 season as starting Rebels QB, Lake was solid in leading his team on field, extending plays with his running ability out of the pocket. Lake would figure in both the Rebels’ TD’s, bringing his physical style of play and determination to the game.
WR and backup QB Hunter Lake’s running proved very effective against the Raider’s defense, shown here taking off with the ball. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
A strong defensive effort early by the Westshore Rebels to pressure the Raiders’ QB Liam O’Brien and his offensive line would lead to uncharacteristic Raiders’ misques that would penalize the home team early. The Rebels defense would break through to sack the Raiders’ QB 6 times on the afternoon, while the Raiders would find it hard to hunt down the nimble Lake. “We were very undisciplined, which I did not like, “ said Raiders’ coach Erdman. “ Especially since that is something we preached the whole week.”
The Raiders would right their ship midway through the first quarter to jump out to a 14-0 lead on scores from WR Dallas Towles and Arthur Fabbro care of QB O’Brien.
The Rebels Cody Wist, hoping to get his team on the board, ran 90 yards for a TD in an “all for not” effort that would see the major negated on a holding penalty, putting cheering Rebels fans back in their seats.
O’Brien, content on playing long ball most of the game, would go to Fabbro and Dustin Rodriguez downfield often. Fabbro’s effort and nose for the ball would prove invaluable in the win for the hometown Raiders. Fabbro would cash in on his QB’s arm again, early in the second to put his team up 21-0.
Raiders’ starting QB Liam O’Brien hands of the ball to Taylor Flavel. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Lake and the Rebels would answer late in the first half after backing up the Raiders defense to their own one-yard line. Lake would cap the scoring drive with the Rebels first TD on a QB keeper, reaching into the endzone with 2 minutes remaining in the half to trail 21-7.
Fabbro, taking advantage of a loose Rebels secondary, would find another O’Brien pass with 24 seconds remaining in the half to go to the locker room up 28-7. For Fabbro, that would be his third major of the game, finishing as the top scorer on the day.
Arthur Fabbro of the Raiders pulls down this touchdown pass for one of his three TD’s in the game – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Rebels would find some momentum in the third quarter on short pass and run plays. Reciever Darcy Cherneff would string together an impressive series of runs, breaking tackles on second effort attempts for extra yards, sometimes of the punishing variety at the expense of the Raiders defense.
Hunter Lake, a fierce competitor in his own right, would orchestrate his team down field midway in the third, taking the ball for a twelve yard corner run to the house to pull closer 28-14, in what appeared to be a broken play that fooled most of the Raider’s defensive core.
Raiders’ O’Brien, still showing confidence in his receiving core, would air out the ball one final time, this time on a side line route from mid field to Dustin Rodriguez who would take a 58 yard reception another fifteen yards for the Raiders final points of the game. O’Brien would throw five touchdown passes in the win.
The Rebels would add another two points on a safety in the fourth, but that would be all they could muster as the home team Raiders would go on to take their fifth win in their final regular home game of the season. Raiders’ back up QB Brody would take the keys in the fourth in relief of O’Brien.
The Rebels will close out their 2015 season with a pair of home games against the first place Okanagan Sun, and the Langley Rams at Westhills Stadium.
This story will be updated as statistics become available.