Lacombe Bantam Raiders edge Ponoka for first win of the season

The Lacombe Bantam Raiders stop the Ponoka Broncs' offence during CAFL action in Ponoka on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Lorisa Schlecht) Lorisa Schlecht / Supplied

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The Lacombe Bantam Raiders opened the 2019 Central Alberta Football League season with a win.

On Saturday afternoon, the Raiders edged the Ponoka Broncs 19-18 on the road in what Head Coach Fred Knip described as a “nailbiter” of a victory, in which their first point on the scoreboard – a safety where quarterback Scott McGee would boot a surprise punt into the Broncs’ endzone – would ultimately be the difference maker.

“We lost a provincial game with a similar play two years ago and I always wanted to incorporate it into our playbook. We practiced a few times last week and I thought we would try it today where there was nothing on the line yet,” he said.

“I wasn’t looking for a score. I just wanted to get the ball deep into their end and recover it. The safety was a bonus – the crazy play ended up being the game winner.”

The one-point lead wouldn’t last long as R.J. Littlechild sprinted 76 yards towards the end of the frame to give the Broncs a 6-1 lead. His teammate L.J. Nieviatomy added their second touchdown by taking a handoff and making a 56-yard run just a few minutes into second to make the score 12-1.

Knip said he wasn’t worried, and his lack of worry would be justified as Raider Michael Waite slipped through the Broncs’ offensive line and made a 71-yard dash several minutes later to make it 12-7 at the half.

“I looked up at the score and thought this (is) just a one score game,” he said. “That was encouraging. We made a few adjustments on the defence and told the players we would just keep doing what we were doing on the offence and wear out the Broncs team.”

They’d carry the momentum in the second half where McGee would find receiver Ethan Reglin for a 45-yard touchdown pass. While they wouldn’t be able to convert, it gave the Raiders a 13-12 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Much of the frame would be a defensive battle between the two teams, and finally Knip moved Reglin to tailback, which broke the stalemate between teh two teams as he ran the ball 76 yards for his second touchdown of the game with just 5:03 left to play.

A lapse in discipline, however, and a series of four penalties gave the Broncs prime field position to tie the game and Littlechild scored his second touchdown of the game with just 16 seconds left.

Knip called a timeout before the kick, admittedly to “rattle the Broncs” and tell his players to rush the kicker rather than hit the snapper, and fortunately for the Raiders, their plan to prevent the Broncs from converting worked and they’d finished with a 19-18 win.

“There’s nothing like a game to expose character and the team showed a fair amount of character in this particular game. We were able to hang on defensively and score when we had to offensively,” said Knip.

“I’m so proud of both the defence and the offence. We have some work to do before next week’s game, but we have a great team.”

The Raiders will play in their season homeopener this Saturday, Sept. 14 against Red Deer’s Hunting Hills High School at MEGlobal Field. Kickoff is at 10 a.m.

Season schedule is as follows:

  • Sept. 14 vs. HHHS
    MEGlobal Field at 10 a.m.
  • Sept. 21 vs. Stettler
    MEGlobal Field at 11 a.m.
  • Sept. 28 @ Sylvan Lake
    Time TBA
  • Oct. 5 @ Rocky Mountain House
    Time TBA
  • Oct. 12 vs. Strathmore
    MEGlobal Field, Time TBA
  • Oct. 19 @ Notre Dame
    Great Chief Park at 4:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 26 – Playoffs Week 1
  • Nov. 2 – Playoffs Week 2

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