It’s hard to say what the Kamloops Broncos had a tougher time with in their 30-0 loss to the Okanagan Sun on Saturday — running back Alex Bradley or the Sun defence.
Bradley chewed up the Hillside Stadium turf, carrying the ball 18 times for 170 yards, including a 35-yard rush, accounting for two-thirds of the Sun’s offensive production.
Kamloops gave up a safety on its opening possession and on Okanagan’s second series of the game Bradley had back-to-back carries to set up an Okanagan field goal and put the team ahead, 5-0. On the next series, he recovered a fumbled handoff for a gain and sidestepped a Broncos defender, taking the ball down to the five. Sun quarterback Theo Deezar threw a touchdown pass to Tommy Howes on the next play.
The Broncos couldn’t find an answer for Bradley, whose 170 yards were 51 more than his previous game-high of 119, and found themselves down 19-0 after the first quarter.
“They kind of threw us off there,” head coach Duncan Olthuis said of the formations the Sun used with its run game and the looks it gave the Broncos. He added he hadn’t expected Okanagan’s run to be as dominant as it was, especially in the first half.
Okanagan kicker Thomas Huber missed on a field goal in the second, but it sailed out the back of the end zone for the single point. Kamloops tried to get on the board before the half ended, but with two seconds left its field-goal attempt was blocked by Okanagan.
The Sun went on to add another touchdown in the third quarter and a field goal in the fourth.
“They came out, they pushed us around,” Olthuis said. “They were ready to come out and they were focused the whole time. We weren’t that focused coming out in the first half, I think we were a little too high-strung, we gotta be a bit looser coming out.”
The Sun defence, on the other hand, had all the answers for Kamloops’s offence, which was never really able to put a series of consistent drives together. The Broncos were limited to 119 yards of total offence, with starting quarterback Steve Schuweiler going 14-for-30 for 100 yards and two interceptions. They had only 13 first downs and managed negative-15 rushing yards in the second half.
“They played defence that we’ve never seen before,” Schuweiler said. “We just could not get going no matter what we did. . . . We just couldn’t get things rolling today.”
Schuweiler said the Sun defenders were playing so deep it limited the Broncos’ ability to throw the ball over the top. With such a big part of Kamloops’ offence shut down, the team wasn’t able to put up any points.
“I just think they were in different formations and they disguise a lot of things very well,” Olthuis said. “We didn’t know what was going on, it’s tough that way.”
Saturday marked the second time the Broncos have been shut out this season and the 10th time in the franchise’s history; Kamloops was last shut out twice in a season in 2007, its inaugural year in the BCFC, when it was blanked five times.
Somewhere there must be someone looking out for the Broncos, who are still in a playoff position despite the loss and a 2-5-1 record. In Saturday’s other games, the Langley Rams dropped the Valley Huskers 54-7 and the Vancouver Island Raiders handed the Westshore Rebels a 54-14 defeat.
Those results allowed Kamloops to remain in fourth place in the six-team conference, with Valley (2-5-1) fifth and Westshore (1-7) in last.
Kamloops will play the Rebels on Saturday in Victoria with a victory clinching the team’s first playoff berth and possibly setting the table for a Sun-Broncos rematch in the first round of the playoffs.
Kamloops and Okanagan will also face each other in the final game of the regular season, Oct. 6, at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna.
“I’d love to see them again in two weeks,” Schuweiler said. “We’ll have to watch the film on their defence and figure out some better ways to attack it.”