Sun dismantled at home

The Okanagan Sun self destructed before many of the large crowd had settled into their seats for a historic night of football at a wet and chilly Apple Bowl Saturday.

A shanked punt, a fumbled kickoff return and a blocked punt led to 21 points as the Saskatoon Hilltops mauled the Okanagan Sun 58-2 in a re-match of last year's national championship game.

The 21-point hole, less than nine minutes into the game, was more than the Sun could climb out of.

"We got solidly beaten in every phase of the game. We handed them 21 points before a few minutes had gone by," said Sun head coach Ben Macauley.

"I think at that point our guys were a little shell shocked and had a tough time recovering. We saw what a team that can execute in all phases of the game looks like, and we couldn't rise to the challenge."

Macauley said a good part of that was coaching.

Saskatoon, reigning national champions, led 21-2 after a quarter and 40-2 at the half. Any remote thought the Sun had of getting back into the game were quashed when the Hilltops took the second half kickoff and marched down field to make it 47-2.

Quarterback Jared Andreychuk was an efficient nine for 15 for 171 yards and three touchdowns. Hr also ran in a four yard major. Workhorse running back Logan Fischer ran for 62 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 36 yards and another score.

Not only did the Sun lose the game, they also lost starting quarterback Foster Martens to a lower body injury early in the first quarter. His status for next weekend's key matchup with the VI Raiders is not known.

The loss Saturday was the worst home defeat since an embarrassing 48-6 thumping at the hands of the Langley Rams which ended the 2012 season and Gavin Lake's one year stint as head coach.

Despite the loss, and more importantly, how it affects the regular season standings, Macauley said he's glad the team agreed to take on the challenge.

"We could have gone and beaten Valley (Huskers) 56-14 again and not gotten any better and then had this game happen in the national final.

"That's why we did it. We learned from this and we're going to get so much better. If we want to be the best, we're going to have play against the best."

The loss, the second in a row, moves the Sun down a spot in the standings, as they fall into a second place tie with the Langley Rams at 6-2.

The Westshore Rebels lead the way at 6-1-1 after being held to a 25-25 tie with the Raiders Saturday.

The Sun travel to Nanaimo next Saturday before closing out the regular season at home to the Rams Oct. 2.


OK Sun sign NFLer

A B.C. football player who spent a brief stint in the NFL has been signed by the Okanagan Sun.

The Sun nabbed former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Rashaun Simonise, will join the club in time for this weekend’s game against the Saskatoon Hilltops. 

Simonise, 21, was a CIS All-Canadian last year for the University of Calgary Dinos, making 51 receptions for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

This past spring, following the NFL supplemental draft, he signed as a free agent with the Bengals before being released Sept. 3.  

While with the Bengals, Simonise caught a 47-yard pass against the Minnesota Vikings in his first pre-season game, then a 17-yard pass against the Indianapolis Colts in the final pre-season game on Sept. 1.

“We are pleased to add the stellar talent of Rashaun to our roster,” said Sun head coach Ben Macauley. “With NFL experience, he immediately impacts the league and draw defensive attention. He is also a dynamic returner with unmatched athleticism. While Rashaun has bigger things in store, we are happy he has chosen to finish the season with the Okanagan Sun family.”

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Vancouver native will fly into Kelowna on Tuesday, meet his new teammates and begin preparation for this weekend’s game at the Apple Bowl. It's a rematch of the teams' Canadian Bowl showdown.

Sun streak ends at 24

The Okanagan Sun saw two winning streaks come to an end Saturday in Victoria.

Their 24-game regular season winning streak, spanning three seasons, and their run at a perfect 2016 both came to a screeching halt.

Jamal Lyles scored his second touchdown of the game in the dying second, leading the Rebels to a wild 29-23 win over the Sun in a game that went back-and-forth for much of the second half.

Lyles rambled in from 12 yards out with just 16 ticks left on the clock. The Rebels were successful on a two-point conversion to make the winning margin six points, a significant total since that was the margin of victory by the Sun in a week three win at the Apple Bowl.

Should the teams finish tied in the standings, head-to-head record, then point differential in those games would be the first two tie breakers.

The Sun jumped out quickly in the opening quarter, marching the ball down the field on their opening possession of the game, capped off by a 20-yard touchdown strike from Foster Martens to Liam Wishart. A 27-yard field goal from Kealey Heintz had it 10-0 by quarter's end.

The Rebels took over in the second quarter, but managed just five points on a conceded safety and a field goal. Interceptions by Ty Kitzman and Beck Fullerton deep in Sun territory snuffed out Rebels drives in the quarter.

Things got interesting in the third as both offences began moving the football.

Lyles scampered in from 14 yards out and quarterback Ashton MacKinnon hit Nathanial Pinto on a 65-yard strike as the Rebels took an 18-13 lead late in the quarter.

But, Keith Zyla brought the Sun back, aided by a pair of major penalties, and scrambled in from three-yards out to put the Sun up 20-18 heading to the fourth.

After an exchange of field goals, the last of which put the Sun up 23-21 with less than two minutes to go, it was the Rebels turn for last second heroics.

Facing a third and 12 from midfield, MacKinnon, dangerous all night long with his legs, scrambled out of the pocket, and hit Pinto inside the Sun 15. Two plays later, Lyles capped off the come-from-behind win.

Both teams are now 6-1, atop the BCFC standings.

The Rebels play in Nanaimo next weekend while the Sun host the Prairie Conference leading Saskatoon Hilltops in the first ever inter-conference regular season game. That game takes place next Saturday night , 7 p.m. at the Apple Bowl, with all sorts of playoff implications.


Huskers can head coach

The Valley Huskers of the BC Football Conference have fired their head coach.

Jason Quinter was relieved of his duties over the weekend.

A brief announcement from the club's board of directors stated Quinter had been released from his "contractual obligations" with the Huskers.

Quinter was in his first season as head coach of the Huskers.

Under Quinter, the Huskers are 0-6, scoring just 105 points while allowing a league worst 283.

According to the board, Quinter was not be replaced. The assistant coaches will share those responsibilities through to the end of the season.

The Huskers will play host to the 0-6 Kamloops Broncos next weekend before entertaining the Winnipeg Rifles in the first game of a inter-conference doubleheader the afternoon of Sept. 17.

That evening, the Okanagan Sun will host the Saskatoon Hilltops in a rematch of last year's Canadian Bowl.

Both games will count in the league standings.



Sun offence lights out

What did the stadium lights at McLeod Stadium and the Okanagan Sun offence have in common Saturday?

Both suffered a power outage.

The Sun had zero success moving the football for most of the first three quarters plus during their BCFC tilt in Langley.

Then, with the Sun offence on the field, the lights went out. Both teams went to their dressing room until the lights came on 20 minutes later.

A light must have come on with the offence, which moved downfield, capped off by quarterback Keith Zyla's 23-yard run.

It was the only touchdown the offence could muster, and the only one they would need in a 15-10 win over the Rams.

An earlier touchdown pass from Zyla to Liam Wishart was negated by a holding penalty.

The only other touchdown of the game came courtesy of a Sun defence which continues to get better as the season rolls on.

Defensive back Jamie Turek was in the right place at the right time, as he pounced in a loose football after the Rams kick returner fumbled a punt in the end zone.

The touchdown gave the Sun a 7-0 first quarter lead.

It stayed that way until the second period, when Rams kicker Tiernan Docherty took over the game.

Docherty booted field goals of 47, 34 and 30 on the final play of the half to give the Rams a 9-7 lead.

Langley went up by three when Docherty's 29-yard field goal attempt went wide and through the end zone.

It looked as if it would stay that way until the light went off and the offence got rolling.

Ty Kitzman picked off a pair of passes for the Sun, the final one with less than four minutes left on the clock.

Then, in the dying seconds, with the Rams marching into Sun territory, linebacker Conor Richard stopped the Rams one yard short on a third and long gamble to seal the win.

The win keeps the Sun's perfect record intact (6-0). They have also won 24 straight regular season games, dating back to 2014.

They get the Labour Day long weekend off before travelling to Victoria to face the 5-1 Westshore Rebels Sept. 10 in a game that could go a long way to determining who finishes first in the BCFC.

The Sun don't play at home until Sept. 17 when they host the reigning national champion Saskatoon Hilltops in the first ever inter-conference regular season game.

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