Valley Husker defence rattles Raiders in BCFC clash

Valley Husker defence rattles Raiders in BCFC clash

Nanaimo trailed 20-19 at the half thanks to the opportunistic Husker D, but rallied to win 44-27.

The Valley Huskers threw a scare into a heavily favoured opponent, but a second half collapse led to a 44-27 loss to the Vancouver Island Raiders on Saturday.

The Huskers made the long trip to Nanaimo for the B.C. Football Conference clash, which kicked off at Caledonia Park.

Winless Chilliwack turned four turnovers into 20 points to lead the Raiders 20-19 at the break.

Defensive back Joshua Robinson delivered the biggest blow, picking off a Jamie Ybarra pass and returning it 93 yards for a touchdown.

Alex Zamora had an interception and a fumble recovery and Andrew Palmer also had a fumble recovery.

But a different Raider squad showed up for the second half and overwhelmed the visitors.

“We came out a little slow, slower than the team would like to see, but [in] the second half we started picking it up and started putting points on the board,” said VI offensive lineman Kaelan Botel. “(Our) defence held them to two and outs all game and that really helped us, gave us great field position.”

The Husker offence actually fared better in the second half than the first.

Chilliwack built their lead despite generating just 33 net yards through two quarters. They tagged the Raiders for 179 in the second half, but they also had issues with turnovers. Quarterback Noah Falconer was intercepted three times, twice by Nanaimo defensive back Jeremie Cheng.

Josh Paisley came up with a key play, blocking a Danny Harris punt and returning it 23 yards for a score.

Falconer ended his day 12 of 34 passing for 186 yards and hooked up with Marius Anghel on two scoring strikes, including an 85 yarder.

The Chilliwack ground game, which looked might it might be gaining traction a couple weeks ago, ground to a halt.

Rookie tailback Keegan Vicklund fought tooth and nail to pick up 12 yards on 13 carries, though he did reach the endzone once.

Two games remain on the regular season slate for the Huskers, who are 0-8 and will not be in the playoffs this season.

They host Victoria’s Westshore Rebels (7-1) Saturday with a 1 p.m. kickoff at Exhibition Stadium.

Their best chance to avoid a third straight winless season comes the following Saturday (Oct. 7) when they welcome the 1-7 Kamloops Broncos.