The Okanagan Sun needed another big second half to turn the tables on the rival Langley Rams.
The Sun had marked this game on the calendar as soon as the schedule was released - looking for payback in a building where their season came to a sudden end a year ago.
But it took a stout defensive effort and a 17-point second half to pull it off.
The Rams got on the board on their opening possession when surprise starter Tristen Secord-Yanciw marched the Rams down the field before hitting Alex France with a 46-yard touchdown strike.
The Sun defence held firm the rest of the way, bending at times, but never breaking.
The Rams only threat came at the end of the first half, when they failed to get anything after getting a first-and-goal at the Sun one while nursing a 7-3 lead.
A delay of game penalty took the ball to the 11, then three plays later on third down from the three, the Sun snuffed out a screen pass at the line of scrimmage to take the ball on downs.
The only Sun points came on a 22-yard field goal from Marcus Burden. The score was set up by Mike O'Shea's punt return inside the Langley 20.
Untimely penalties were the story for the Sun in the first half. A Jevon Garwood run to the one-yard line on third-and-two was wiped out by a holding penalty. Holding penalties also wiped out long gains that could have helped the Sun get into scoring position.
The Sun took over in the second half thanks in large part to a pair of fake punts.
After burning the Rams once for a first down on a fake punt on their first possession of the second half, the Sun ran the same play on their next possession as Matt Lord took the ball into Rams territory.
A few plays later, Dominic hit a streaking O'Shea down the middle for a 39-yard strike.
They never looked back.
Midway through the fourth, Britton capped off a five-play drive with a five-yard run to put the Sun up by 10.
The touchdown was set up by a 35-yard strike to Noah Bymak down to the Rams 20. A horse collar tackle moved the ball to the five.
Burden closed out the scoring with a 23-yard field goal in the dying seconds. The three pointer came seconds after a touchdown pass to Nathan Tonogai was negated by an illegal block.
Both teams had difficulty moving the ball consistently in part because of strong play by the defence and in part because of untimely penalties.
The Sun forced two turnovers and the Rams one, all on downs.
Saturday's win moves the Sun to the top of the BCFC standings after two weeks while the Rams are reeling after dropping their first two.
The Rams play in Chilliwack next weekend while the Sun get the weekend off.
They'll return to the field Saturday, Aug. 13 when they entertain the unbeaten Westshore Rebels in their home opener.
Okanagan Sun head coach Travis Miller cautions against reading too much into the Langley Rams upset loss to the Westshore Rebels last weekend.
The Rebels jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead, then held on for a 36-20 victory in a game played in Langley.
Despite that start, Miller says the Rams are still the team to beat.
"They are the defending national champions, so I don't think anybody can treat them anything else other than that. There are a lot of national champions who have lost games the following year but still hoisted the trophy at the end of the year," said Miller in advance of Saturday's showdown between the Sun and Rams in Langley.
"From our perspective and hopefully from the fans perspective, this is the defending national champions and you have to treat them with the respect they have deserved.
"For us it's an opportunity at redemption, for them it's an opportunity to refocus. I think for everybody that watches, it will be a great game."
Redemption for the Sun would be some payback for the way the 2021 season ended, a 7-4 defeat in Langley in the BCFC final. A win that propelled the Rams to the national title.
While the Rams are licking their wounds, the Sun come in following a 50-19 dismantling of the VI Raiders to kick off the season.
After a typical Sun slow start, the offence finally started rolling late in the first half, amassing 583 yards in total offence including 417 yards through the air.
Slow, said Miller in an understatement and, while he was pleased with the way the offence was able to move the ball, he wished it was a little more consistent.
"We are trying some different things this week," said Miller of trying to avoid the slow start.
"Tinkering the way in which we start our pre-game, the way in which we travel. All those things to try and find that happy medium and something that is going to work for the team."
The defence surrendered a couple of touchdowns through the air, including a 75 yard bomb in the opening quarter, but was able to register four quarterback sacks and cause havoc in the offensive backfield much of the night.
That defence, led by defensive lineman Kelon Thomas will get ever more formidable this week with the return of linebacker Tyler Going.
"For any team to get an all-Canadian linebacker back in the fray is always a positive. But, we've also got Isaac Wegner back, we have Kamar Bishop in town and Tyler Turner is back, so we get a third of our defensive players back this week which hopefully will lead to a few less points on the scoreboard."
The Sun get the bye next weekend before opening up the home portion of their schedule Aug. 13 when they entertain the Westshore Rebels.
The Okanagan Sun broke open a tight game with five second half touchdowns in a 50-19 dismantling of the VI Raiders in the BC Football Conference opener for both teams Saturday in Nanaimo.
But, the game too a backseat to a horrific injury to Nanaimo offensive lineman Gage Geiger with just over two minutes left and the Sun leading 36-13.
Geiger was tended to by medical staff from both teams for more than half an hour before paramedics arrived to take him to Nanaimo Regional Hospital.
The extent of the injury is not yet known.
The Sun started slowly - unable to take advantage of great field position throughout the opening quarter. They began their first four drives on the Raiders side of the field, but were only able to come away with 10 points, a Liam Attwood field goal from 19 yards out and Tristan Peddle's two yard run.
The Raiders held the lead briefly in the opening quarter when Ben Chomolok hit Moren Bradbrooke with a 75 yard major on the first play after Attwood opened the scoring.
A conceded safety late in the quarter and Attwood's second field goal of the half from 34 yards out, set up by JJ Heaton's first career BCFC interception, put the Sun up 15-7 heading into the locker room.
The Raiders did move the ball in the second quarter, but interceptions by Nick Bannister and Heaton deep in Sun territory snuffed out both drives.
The Sun had chances to add to the lead in the open 30 minutes, but a fumble on the Nanaimo six ended one drive and the half ended with the Sun on the VI 13, thinking they had time for one final play.
It was a different team in the second half.
Dominic Britton, who completed just nine of 8 in the opening half, was more effective throwing the ball over the final 30 minutes.
He scrambled to buy time before hitting a wide open Noah Bynak for a 70 yard strike on their second possession of the half.
After Chomolok and Bradbrooke hooked up for a second major, the Sun took over, scoring four unanswered touchdowns to hit the 50 point mark.
Britton ran in from one yard out late in the third quarter then defensive back Garrett Cape scooped up a fumble and ran five yards early in the fourth to put the Sun up 36-13.
After the injury to Geiger, backup quarterback Liam Kroger marched the Sun down the field, capping off a three play drive with an eight yard strike to Farrell Kenfack.
Grayson Stratham scooped up a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and ran 12 yards for the Sun final touchdown of the night.
One the last play of the game Kroger, attempting one final pass, was hit and fumbled, allowing the Raiders to scoop up the fumble and rumble the length of the field for one final score.
The Sun did receive a bit of a scare when Britton briefly limped off the field after taking a hard hit in the third quarter. He missed just three plays before returning.
Unofficially, Britton was eight for 10 for 172 yards, one touchdown and one interception during an efficient second half.
Peddle and Jevan Garwood also showed flashes splitting time in the backfield.
The Sun take their 1-0 record into Langley next Saturday to face the reigning national champion Rams.
The Rams opened defence of their national championship on a sour note, opening the 2022 season with a 36-20 defeat at the hands of the Westshore Rebels.
The Sun will open their home schedule Saturday, Aug. 13 against the Rebels.
The Okanagan Sun enter the 2022 BCFC season with some unfinished business to attend to - and a new head coach to guide them there.
They kick off the new campaign on the road Saturday against the VI Raiders in Nanaimo.
The Sun are looking for redemption after a disappointing end to 2021, a 7-4 defeat in Langley in the BCFC final, a game in which they managed just 51 yards of total offence and six first downs against the number one defence in the nation.
First year head coach Travis Miller says the team is fired up for the start of a new season.
"It's been a year or more waiting to get on the field and, after last season and the way it ended, I'm sure guys are super jacked about getting on the field and showing what they did in the off season," said Miller.
"Unfinished business is a very apropos way of describing it."
Miller, who took over head coaching duties after Jamie Boreham abruptly tendered his resignation in March, says he's looking forward to seeing what the team can do in a live situation after a lengthy training camp and just one pre season game last weekend against Kamloops.
"I'm hoping we come out and showcase exactly what we've been practicing the last three and a half weeks. it's been a long camp, twenty some days, and our kids have been putting in the work.
"I'm just excited to see them in a live fire situation and hopefully play up to the ability we think they can and see where the cards fall after that."
Miller and the Sun will come into the 2022 with a different look than a year ago when they rode the legs of CJFL offensive player of the year Malcolm Miller who graduated after last season when he led the nation in rushing with 1,367 yards.
That included a team record 341 yard effort against the VI Raiders.
"You can't replace a Malcolm Miller overnight, but we luckily have three running backs who are probably CJFL calibre running backs for any team, so we are confident in the group that we have...trio of athletes who will bring different things to the table."
With Malcolm Miller in the backfield, the Sun were a run first team in 2021. But, coach Miller expects that script to flip this season.
"I think our receiver group is the strength of our offence," said Miller.
That group will be led by sophomore Mike O'Shea, who led the BCFC will 11 touchdown receptions last season.
Quarterback Dominic Britton is also back to guide the offence.
On the defensive side of the ball, Miller says that group was a special unit in 2021, one of the best the CJFL has ever seen.
And, while they return a good portion of the group this season, Miller says there are some graduating players you just can't replace overnight.
"Similar to Malcolm Miller, you're not finding a James Stockwood hanging around anywhere. From our perspective, we just want to make sure our guys are sound and strong and playing to their strengths.
"From there we are hopefully able to play team defence as a group and support each other whether it's in the run or pass game."
The Sun will play in Langley next weekend before hosting Westshore Rebels in their home opener Aug. 13.
The Okanagan Sun are in need to families willing to host players for the upcoming 2022 junior football season.
With the BCFC season set to begin in July, prospective families will be asked to take in players starting now, June 15 or July 1, and billet them through to the end of October.
"Billet families play a large role within the Sun organization and make players feel like they are at home even when they are hundreds of miles away", said head coach Travis Miller.
"Housing a Sun player is an extremely rewarding experience that provides a unique opportunity to help a young man adapt his surroundings and forge lasting relationships that last well beyond football."
You will also be helping players to become more embedded within the community.
Billet families are compensated between $500 and $700 a month, and receive a pair of season tickets.
Interested families are asked to contact Leah Bartlett at 250-801-6332 or email [email protected]
More BCFC articles
- Cruise mandates droppingBusiness - 2:09 pm
- Railside Brewing now openKelowna - 2:03 pm
- Keremeos Creek fire updateKeremeos Creek - 2:01 pm
- Fined for fouling creekVictoria - 1:36 pm
- Montenegro gunman kills 11Montenegro - 1:32 pm
- Okanagan Sun
- Kelowna Minor Football
- Penticton Minor Football
- Kelowna Touch Football League
- BC High School Football
- KSS Football
- Football BC
- BC Football Conference
- CFL | NFL
Cover your team's games! Write up a story and email us [email protected] for publication here.
- OK Sun in need of billets May 24
- Sun to open upon the road Apr 15
- Sun coach steps down Mar 24
- Sun's Miller best in CJFL Dec 3
- Sun fall in BCFC final Nov 14
- Sun fan bus off to final Nov 12
- Sun off to BCFC final Nov 6
- Sun host Raiders in semi Nov 5
- Sun win showdown but... Oct 30
- Record night for Sun Oct 16
- Sun look to extend streak Oct 15
- Sun run wild on Broncos Oct 10