BCFC Semi-finals recap

Nanaimo (VI) Raiders 29 @ Westshore Rebels 34

Written by Jonathan Hodgson

Langford, B.C.—The Westshore Rebels and Vancouver Island Raiders renewed their Island rivalry on Saturday night in Langford with a berth into the Cullen Cup on the line, and it was a wild one right from the opening kick.  In a stunning late-game turn, Westshore grabbed victory out of the hands of Vancouver Island in a 34-29 thriller.


The game started with a bang for the home side when Jamel Lyles ran back the game’s opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, giving Westshore an immediate 7-0 lead.


Midway through the opening quarter now leading 7-2, the Rebels seemed poised to add to their lead, but a Kyle Clarke field goal was blocked by the Raiders to keep it a five point spread.


The game was played under breezy conditions with a light rain falling throughout the game at Westhills Stadium, and turnovers would be a major story including one from each team in the first quarter, occurring on consecutive plays.


The Raiders began moving the ball on Westshore for the first time on a drive late in the first and into the second quarter.  Deep in their own end, the Rebels defence would stop the drive at the eight yard line, leading to a James Parker field goal to cut the Westshore lead to 7-5. 


Nanaimo had difficulty finishing drives throughout the night with Parker going 4-6 on field goal attempts.


The game went into half time tied at 12 after the Raiders found the endzone for the first time with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Jake LaBerge to Dustin Rodriguez late in the second quarter.


With Nanaimo leading for the first time in the game, 18-12 late in the third, quarterback Ashton MacKinnon and the Rebels orchestrated a ten-play drive, all on the ground, capped off by a one-yard plunge to take the lead back, 19-18 in the back-and-forth affair.


The game would head to the final 15 minutes with the Raiders leading 21-19 when Westshore put together another extended drive, going seven plays and 69 yards for the major, retaking a 26-21 lead in a game that had taken on a ‘last score wins’ tone.


Nanaimo looked to have sealed the game when they marched 95 yards on 13 plays to take back the lead, 28-26 with 2:30 left on the clock.


The impressive drive was aided by three Rebels penalties including an illegal substitution penalty on a Raiders punt, giving them a first down and keeping the drive alive.


Nanaimo recovered the ensuing kickoff and capitalized with a fieldgoal, jumping in front by five with 90 seconds remaining.


Penalties and turnovers were both key factors in the game. Both teams were called for 13 infractions in the game, the Raiders for 92 yards and the Rebels for 126 yards. Meanwhile, the Rebels lost the turnover battle by a margin of 6-3.

Despite that, the Rebels had one more chance to make something happen and that is exactly what they did.


Starting at their own 35 with 1:30 remaining, within three plays, the Rebels marched the ball to the Raiders 21.


With 23 seconds left, Jamel Lyles put an exclamation point on his massive game with 198 yards on 25 carries, punctuating the game-defining drive with a three-yard touchdown run to put the Rebels ahead, and suddenly the tables were turned.


Nanaimo was unable to work a miracle on their final plays, and Westshore hung on for the 34-29 victory, clinching their place in the Cullen Cup against the Okanagan Sun.


Nanaimo quarterback Jake LaBerge was 20-37 for 278 yards and an interception while Westshore’s Ashton MacKinnon was 5-14 with 105 yards and two interceptions, adding 79 yards on the ground on 13 carries.


Nathan Berg collected 139 yards on 27 carries for the Raiders while Hugh Rainey was their top receiver with eight receptions for 124 yards.


Westshore will host the Cullen Cup against Okanagan at Westhills Stadium in Langford on Saturday, October 29.


Game highlights: https://youtu.be/G1uLWQuPxUA

Next game: (Home-BCFC Championship-Cullen Cup) Sat Oct 29th, time TBD, Okanagan Sun @ Westshore Rebels, Westhills Stadium