After three weeks of playing on the road, the Westshore Rebels returned home to Westhills Stadium for a tilt against the Chilliwack Valley Huskers. This was the second of back-to-back games against the Huskers; the Rebels had beat them 47-23 in Chilliwack the week prior. The Huskers came into the game in last place in the BCFC, still looking for their first win of the season. For the second week in a row, the Huskers took an early lead, but the Rebels running game took over in the second half to win by a comfortable margin of 45-28.
Huskers quarterback Noah Falconer looked sharp early. The Rebels run defense was effective at shutting down the running game, which set up plenty of second and long situations. Falconer was up to the test as he consistently converted on second and long, which led to touchdowns on Valley’s first two offensive drives.
The Rebels offence would respond; more specifically, the running game. Led by a one of the best offensive lines in the country, Rebels running back Jamel Lyles exploited the Huskers defense. Lyles scored the Rebels first touchdown, and on the next drive set up an Ashton Mackinnon quarterback sneak to tie the game.
The Rebels found success in the passing game late in the second half. With 33 seconds to play, Ashton Mackinnon faked a handoff to Lyles and then went deep to Nathaniel Pinto for a 55-yard touchdown pass to take the lead. A wind-aided strong kickoff by Kent Hicks set up the Huskers deep in their own zone with just 25 seconds on the clock. The Rebels got a quick stop, and called a timeout to set up a punt situation with almost no time left in the half. Perhaps the Huskers had not paid attention to just how dangerous Lyles is, because instead of taking a knee for two points, they punted the ball to Lyles. The ball bounced at the 30-yard line, and Lyles scooped it up, bounced off of a couple tackles, and took it to the house to extend the Rebels lead to 14 at halftime.
The Huskers offence got off to another hot start in the second half. Falconer connected deep with Mike West on the first play, which made it a one-score game once again. The Rebels responded with a field-goal, but it was Lyles who would break the game open again. On the next Rebels possession, Lyles took the handoff at the Huskers 40-yard line and ran to the right. After it looked like he was going to be taken down for a loss, he reversed field and ran to the left breaking tackles along the way. After a couple of cuts, he finally found open space and crossed the goal line for an incredible touchdown to make it 38-21. Lyles would finish the game with 272 on 25 carries. His incredible performance put him at over 1,000 yards on the season, just six games in.
Both teams had late touchdown drives, but once again, a strong second half by the Rebels put the game out of reach, and they held on to move to 5-1 on the season.
Rebels head coach JC Boice acknowledged that his team’s performance was far from perfect, but the win showed reliance. “We’re young,” said Boice. “We’re learning how to win. We’re reestablishing a culture of excellence, and a lot of kids in our program are working hard to do that. Every week is a fight. Every week is a notch for us to get better; every game is a trap game. I felt like we had to be tough and make plays, and we did. I’m very proud of them for that.” Boice praised Lyles and the offensive line for the success that they have had in the run game. “Jamel works hard. Jamel is a dynamic kid, and Jamel benefits from a fantastic offensive line as well. For whatever record Jamel gets, there’s six or seven guys in that rotation that get that record with him,” said Boice.
The Rebels are heading into a bye week, and then they play the Okanagan Sun the following week at home. The Sun are the only team that have beaten the Rebels to this point, and a win would move them into a tie for first place in the BCFC. “We’ve got a really big game coming up now,” said Boice. “Our coaching staff is going to go to work. Our kids are going to go to work. This crowd is in for a treat. There’s going to be a lot of people here, and a lot of fired up kids. We’re going to play some very good football, and earn a W against the Sun.”
Game stats: Posted at http://www.westshorerebels.ca under media tab
Next game: (Home) Sat Oct 10th, Okanagan Sun @ Westshore Rebels, 7pm, Westhills Stadium
For information on tickets, game details and player stats visit www.westshorerebels.ca