Raiders rally against Voyageurs

By Jamie Harkins

October 3, 2017 3:19 PM

Raider McKye Brown keeps an eye on the Voyageurs defence during Holy Rosary’s 28-17 win against Bonnyville at the Raider Bowl on Friday. Jamie Harkins/Meridian Booster

One key Bonnyville High School Voyageurs play inadvertently turned the tide in the Holy Rosary High School Raiders favour.

The Raiders (2-1) beat the Voyageurs 28-17 before a full crowd of home and opposition fans at the Raider Bowl on Friday night.

The game’s likely turning point occurred at the 10:38 mark of the second quarter when Voyageurs running back Evan Fritzler blocked an Eli Klassen punt deep in the Raiders zone.

Fritzler then tracked the bouncing ball back toward and past the goal line before falling on it for the major, which brought the score to 14-14 counting the Silas Fagnan convert, and seemingly shifted the momentum onto the Voyageurs side.

However, Fritzler suffered a game-ending injury on the play eliminating Bonnyville’s run attack and giving the Raiders a somewhat easier chance in the second half.

“They couldn’t run without their running back,” said Raiders linebacker Evan Eide.

“The only person who ran was their QB, and they didn’t do too well with that. So, all they did was pass and our defensive backs shut it down.”

Both the Raiders and Voyageurs started the game strong defensively with the majority of play occurring within 20 yards of midfield.

Raiders receiver McKye Brown finally found some open space to run late in the first quarter, when he hauled in a short Dante Tabacu pass and sprinted 56 yards down the sideline for the major.

After a series of short gains by Raiders running back Nash Etson early in the second quarter, Tabacu and Brown hooked up again for a 33-yard pass-and-run touchdown at the 5:21 mark.

Raiders kicker Allan Ofianewski notched his second convert of the game shortly afterwards to make the score 14-0.

The Voyageurs (1-2) countered on their next possession with Fagnan orchestrating a 78-yard 12-play drive to the Raiders four, before firing the ball to Aaron Goulet just inside the corner of the end zone.

Fritzler scored the tying major shortly after to give his team a late first-half boost.

Etson said the message from the Raiders coaching staff during halftime was to forget about the punt mistake and just keep working.

He said the belief among the teammates was that they’re a better team than what they showed in the first half, and they came out and proved it in the second.

The Raiders notched the winning major seven minutes into the third quarter thanks to a series of strong runs up the middle from Etson and Tabacu, with the former completing the drive on a two-yard punch in.

Fagnan brought the score to 21-17 a little over two minutes into the fourth quarter with a 34-yard field goal, only to see Etson run the ball up the middle and down the sideline to the Voyageurs end zone shortly after.

A Raiders penalty negated the touchdown and brought the ball back to their own 41-yard line.

Undaunted, the club then posted a long 11-play drive with Tabacu, once again finding Brown in the end zone for the 28-17 lead with 3:03 remaining.

“We ran it down and it got called back, and we’re fortunate for that,” said Etson.

“We got to run the clock out a lot more than we did if I would have scored right there. We ran the clock down, we scored, and we gave our defence really good positioning.”

The Voyageurs refused to back down after the score and pushed the play 52 yards to the Raiders 24 over the next three minutes.

Strong pass coverage and pressure from the Raiders defensive line then stuffed the comeback attempt.

“Our D linemen, they were just killing it on the line, and honestly just destroying them,” said Eide. “The linebackers and DB’s all around played solid.”


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