The Valley Huskers cracked the win column for this first time in the 2019 BC Football Conference season, beating the Kamloops Broncos Saturday night.
The Huskers triumphed 47-35 in an offensive shootout at Hillside Stadium, improving to 1-3 while the Broncos stayed winless at 0-4.
The Huskers offence, which put up 46 points combined in three losses to start the season, exploded against Kamloops to the tune of 478 net yards. Most of it came through the air, with Chilliwack quarterbacks Reid Vankoughnett and Logan McDonald combining to complete 25 of 37 passes for 361 yards and two TDs. Ten Huskers caught at least one pass, led by Brandon Poulin’s seven receptions for 93 yards and a major. Ethan Diakow had five passes for 69 yards and a TD, and Spencer Chavis reeled in three catches for 60 yards.
The Chilliwack ground game showed signs of life, churning out 151 yards on 31 carries (4.87 ypc). Remis Tshiovo led the charge with 74 yards on 13 carries.
McDonald, Vankoughnett and running back Ethan Paul had rushing majors and kicker Ethan Homan added field goals of 11, 18, 23 and 39 yards.
“I think we corrected a lot of mistakes, taking far less offsides and holding penalties, things that have really been drive killers the previous three games,” said Husker head coach Bob Reist. “And I thought both our quarterbacks were a lot more effective getting the ball out and hitting the open guy.”
The flipside of the Huskers offensive explosion is that the defence was surprisingly leaky.
While Kamloops didn’t get much going on the ground, they gained plenty through the air. QB Nicolas Nica connected six times with wideout Garrett Kryzanowski, who turned those catches into 188 yards and two TDs. Evan Giuzzo had seven receptions for 82 yards and two scores.
The Huskers were missing two key pieces in the secondary, Keenan Onyabuchi (suspended) and Marcel Arruda-Welch (injured). They were also missing a big piece on the D line in Isaiah Letander (injured).
“If you take out the first drive of the game for them where we had a busted coverage, I thought our defence played very well,” Reist said. “Once we got out to a 31-7 lead or whatever it was, guys lost their focus for a little bit.
“We took some penalties and did some things that have hurt us in the past, and credit to Kamloops that they were able to climb right back into the game, but we definitely shut the door when we needed to.”
The Huskers head into week five action with a playoff spot well within reach.
The Okanagan Sun (2-2) and Vancouver Island Raiders (2-2) are both just one game ahead in the BCFC standings, and the Raiders are the next opponent, Sept. 8 (2 p.m.) at Exhibition Stadium.
“It’s easy to look back and point at the losses we took, but we are right in the hunt,” Reist said. “We lost two games by a combined six points and we play both this teams (Westshore/Okanagan) again and we are far from out of it.
“It’s great to get that first win under our belt and the mentality of our program is to continue to progress and move forward.”