On Sunday (Sept. 27) at Bill Moore Park in Courtenay, a long time Vancouver Island football rivalry was restored as the Comox Valley Raiders Midget team played the Victoria Spartans, a team that has returned to the Vancouver Mainland Football League this year.
The weather was perfect for an exciting game of football and the teams did not disappoint the numerous fans watching on the sidelines. The Raiders, coming off a big 34-0 win against the Cloverdale Bengals the previous week, played hard but lost a nailbiter to the Spartans 27-21.
The game went right down to the wire but the Raiders ran out of time and came up just short.
The Victoria Spartans turned the opening possession into a 7-0 lead with a touchdown pass.
The Raiders answered back as quarterback Ryan Beauchamp hit running back Jimmy Brazier on a long pass of almost 55 yards to put the Raiders on the board. The Raiders missed the convert to make the score 7-6.
The Spartans responded with an unconverted touchdown of their own (one-yard plunge) before the end of the first quarter.
Brazier turned from running back to quarterback for the Riders’ second TD.
Coming off a Brandon White interception, Brazier, on a set play, threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cameron Thompson.
An unsuccessful two-point convert kept the score 13-12 for the Spartans.
Brazier then recovered his own onside kick to give the Raiders possession again, leading to a (Brazier) field goal, for a 15-13 Raiders’ lead.
That lead was short-lived, however, as the Spartans scored their third major of the afternoon on the ensuing possession, giving the visitors a 20-15 lead at the half.
The second half was a contest of field position. Both teams drove the field but were unable to score.
The Raiders’ defence played well against a Spartans’ offence that relied heavily on passing the ball. Safety Brandon White led the charge on defence for the Raiders, with three interceptions.
On offence the Raiders were able to consistently move the ball against the Spartans. The Raiders’ offensive line played another strong game as Beauchamp had time to pass the ball. The Raiders offence just could not finish their drives. Twice in the fourth quarter the Raiders fumbled on third and one to turn the ball over in the Spartans territory.
With less than two minutes to play, the Spartans finally broke the second half standstill with major to make it a 27-15 game.
The Raiders responded quickly. First Beauchamp hit Thompson for a 20-yard completion, then connected with Aaron Slack with a short pass that Slack took almost 55 yards down to the Spartans one-yard line. From there Brazier finished the drive with a touchdown run to make the score 27-21.
The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, as was the ensuing onside kick, and the Spartans ran out the clock.
The Raider coaches felt that their players deserved a better result on this day but the play of the team is definitely trending in the right direction.
Next up for the Raiders (1-3) is the Cowichan Timbermen (0-3). The Raiders play the Timbermen next Sunday (Oct. 4) at McAdam Park in Duncan at 1:30 p.m.