With just one point to show for the first three quarters, the Okanagan Sun dug a formidable hole Sunday afternoon in Kelowna.
In the end, it was too much to overcome as the Vancouver Island Raiders prevailed 15-8 in the B.C. Football Conference semifinal at the Apple Bowl.
The Sun was hampered by four interceptions, including a pair of key fourth quarter Raiders’ picks off Keith Zyla to snuff out potential scoring drives.
“You can’t turn the ball over as many times as we did and expect to have success,” said Macauley. “I thought we were in a position at the end of the game where we could have won it and we didn’t get the calls we needed to get…we have tremendous effort by guys playing from behind to win and it wasn’t good enough.
“We felt we should have capitalized earlier on some of their mistakes and turnovers killed us.”
Late in the fourth quarter and trailing 15-8, Rashaun Simonise returned a punt for an apparent touchdown which would have put the Sun in a position to tie the game. But the play was wiped out by a contacting the kicker call against the Sun, a penalty Macauley contends should have never been called.
“We got a roughing the kicker on a play where a guy wasn’t even touching the kicker,” said Macauley. “It was a bad call, he’ll see it on film and we’ll see it, too. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was a very important call. He didn’t have to make it and he did, but we shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with turnovers, we should have been well ahead at that point.”
Down 15-1, Conor Richard scored the Sun’s lone touchdown on a one-yard plunge in the fourth quarter.
Brycen Mayoh scored both the Raiders’ majors on passes from quarterback Jake Laberge in the first and third quarters.
The Sun, which finished second the regular season with a 8-1-0-1 record, was beset with key injuries late in the 2017 campaign.
Quarterback Nick Wenman missed Sunday’s game with concussion symptoms, while Zyla was in and out of the lineup for the better part of the season with injury.
“We had a real strong start, we battled some serious injuries, we were hampered by quarterback injuries all year and we lost a guy who should have been an all-Canadian (Shaun Robinson) at linebacker,” Macauley said in reflecting on the 2017 season.
“That really hurt us down the stretch with consistency and depth but there are so many positives. We’ve got these playmakers that make plays, young guys that we expect to have back. We’ve gotta do a better job of supporting them in big games, they weren’t ready to play for the first three quarters.”
In an all-Island BCFC final, the Raiders will battle the defending champion Westshore Rebels next weekend in Victoria.
The Rebels disposed of the Langley Rams 57-14 Saturday in the other conference semifinal.