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Broncos blow halftime lead in loss
It looked as if head coach Duncan Olthuis might receive an early birthday present from his Kamloops Broncos, but another second-half collapse ruled that out.
“Again, the first half was great,” said Olthuis of the Broncos’ 37-27 loss to the Vancouver Island Raiders of Nanaimo at Hillside Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 24.
“Then the second half came and the mental mistakes started happening and they took advantage.”
Olthuis turned 34 on Sunday, Aug. 25.
He woke up with the realization that his charges were 0-4-1 in B.C. Football Conference play heading into a bye week.
The Broncos have two all-important games after the break — a tilt in Chilliwack against the Valley Huskers (2-1-1) on Sept. 7 and a home date with the Westshore Rebels (0-4) of Victoria on Sept. 14.
“We have to win those games,” Olthuis said.
“Those games against the Huskers and Westhore, we need to win to stay in the playoff race.”
Kamloops held its own in the first half against the Okanagan Sun of Kelowna at Hillside on Aug. 17 and carried an 8-2 lead into the third quarter.
Poor decisions, turnovers and defensive lapses in the second half cost the home team, which went on to lose 23-8.
On Saturday, the Broncos were up 19-11 at the half.
Olthuis said a combination of mental mistakes, defensive breakdowns and a few questionable calls from officials led to the Broncos’ demise against the Raiders.
“On defence, we gave up a 45-yard touchdown right up the heart of the field,” he said.
“Then we had interceptions on offence and we weren’t finishing drives.
“We were inside their 20 two separate times and came away with three points. That’s not good enough.”
Quarterback Stephen Schuweiler returned from injury and threw for 297 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. He also scampered for a score.
Olthuis said he was impressed with the offence’s performance.
Connor Whitelaw, who started in Kamloops’ first four games, missed Saturday’s tilt with an ankle injury.
Receiver Derek Yachison caught the TD pass from Schuweiler.
Broncos’ running back Jacob Palmarin had an impressive day on the ground, rushing for 84 yards and one touchdown.
He looked to have plunged in for another major, but officials ruled he did not cross the goal-line plane. Olthuis disagreed with the call.
Recording interceptions in a losing cause for Kamloops were Warabek Ayuel, Dane Douglas, Dan Orydzuk and Steve Liss.
Anthony Arduini connected on a short field goal for the home team.
Holding second-half leads against some of the league’s top teams in Okanagan and Vancouver Island is a good sign, but the Broncos’ head coach needs more than good signs if he is going to reach the post-season.
“It does prove that we can play with any team in this league, but we need to have a killer instinct and learn how to finish off games,” Olthuis said.
“We have to be absolutely perfect and win these games.”