The Yorkton Raiders continued to steamroll through the local loop with a commanding 37-0 victory over the Peacock Tornadoes in the first game of the day before the Estevan Elecs picked up one of their first wins in team history at Gutheridge Field, defeating the Vanier Vikings 35-0.
Yorkton remained the only undefeated team in the league at 3-0, while Peacock fell to 2-2. Estevan, meanwhile, improved to 1-2 on the season, Vanier fell to 0-4.
Yorkton 36, Peacock 0
Things were interesting through the first half, as the Tornadoes were able to largely stymie the potent Raiders attack, holding Yorkton to only nine points until the final minute of the second quarter.
Joshua Jacquea hauled in a six-yard pass from quarterback Connor Watrych with 23 seconds left in the first quarter, and combined with a safety five minutes into the game, saw Yorkton nursing a 9-0 lead.
But a 23-yard passing play to Milos Mandic with 57 seconds before half-time led to Yorkton’s second major and would be a sign of things to come.
“We had a pretty rough first half, to be honest with you, but the guys stuck together,” said Watrych, who finished with four passing touchdowns on the day. “We were missing some key people all week, I was away and just got back yesterday, but the other guys stepped up and that’s definitely what the story of this is… If you look at the score sheet, we’re pretty spread around, (Josh) Haczkewicz made some big catches but all my teammates stepped up to get the job done today.”
Raiders coach Jason Boyda pointed to a rash of penalties – Yorkton ended up taking eight for 95 yards in the first half alone – as a key factor in their early struggles.
“The drives where we scored, we eliminated shooting ourselves in the foot with the penalties,” he said. “We took way too many and we have to cut that down, do a way better job on that. And then it came down to execution, the guys and girls that are on our team, they executed really well as the game progressed.”
It didn’t take long for Yorkton to take control of things in the second half – specifically, their first two plays of the third quarter. Garrett Ellis took the opening kick-off back 70 yards for a touchdown and on their first play of their next possession two minutes later, Watrych hit Haczkewicz with a 49-yard pass-and-run for another major.
And just like that, a 16-0 battle turned into a 30-0 runaway.
“It was great, and having Ellis returning the ball for us is pretty great, too,” Watrych said of the sudden second half strike and the momentum it created. “Even on punt returns, he came close there a couple of time. When you have one of the fastest guys in the province like him, you take advantage of him for sure.”
Haczkewicz would add a nine-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to close out scoring.
Tornadoes head coach Bert Redstone had hoped to see a better overall performance from his troops against a team they knew would be tough and was left disappointed with the overall effort. The Tornadoes managed only four first downs and a total of 58 yards of offence
“Yorkton is a good team, obviously, and we knew that coming in,” he said. “We saw their film and saw what they do, they come hard and we tried to prepare our guys for that. But I think with the youth have, I don’t want to make excuses for the guys, it’s the fourth game in and everyone has to step up and play some football.
Estevan 35, Vanier 0
Hunter Eagles scored two touchdowns – including one on a 105-yard interception return – to lead the Elecs to victory.
Chase Martel got things started for Estevan, scoring the game’s first major with 5.7 seconds left in the first quarter. Quarterback Kaleb Bechtold ran one in with 2:05 until halftime to put the Elecs ahead 14-0 at the break.
Eagles picked up his two touchdowns in the third quarter before Jonah Bachorcik added the game’s final major 1:23 into the final frame.
Bachorick finished the game with 13 carries for 129 yards, while Martel had two catches for 53 yards.
The Vikings, meanwhile, had a rough first half on the ground, finishing with negative-40 yards rushing. Xander Montgomery got things rolling after the break, though and finished with eight carries for 64 yards.
Julian Allen added a pair of catches for 54 yards, with quarterback Samuel Caplette going 10-for-13 passing for 123 yards.
League action continues Friday, Oct. 4 with Yorkton travelling to Estevan. Games on Saturday, Oct. 5 see Weyburn facing Central at 1 p.m. and Peacock taking on Vanier at 3:15 p.m.