That was close.
The Langley Rams held off a fourth-quarter charge from the Kamloops Broncos to win their B.C. Football Conference semifinal match-up by a 48-46 count Saturday at McLeod Stadium.
â€œIn the playoffs, everything changes, and they saw it as a one-game-and-done, which really motivated them,â€ Rams head coach Jeff Alamolhoda said, regarding the Broncos. â€œWe knew theyâ€™d come in charged up and flying high, but we didnâ€™t expect the continued fight they had once they got down big – kudos to them for doing that.â€
The win puts the junior Rams into the BCFC Cullen Cup final for the fourth consecutive year.
In the B.C. championship game, the Rams will face the Okanagan Sun, who downed the defending champion VI Raiders 47-16 in the other BCFC semifinal played Sunday afternoon at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna.
The Sun led the BCFC during the regular season with a 9-1 record, and will host the Rams for the B.C. title this Sunday, Oct. 26, with a 1 p.m. kickoff.
When the dust cleared on Saturday, the clock proved to be the Ramsâ€™ greatest ally. Down 45-24 going into the fourth quarter, the Broncos dominated the final stanza, outscoring the Rams 22-3 before running out of time.
This was in stark contrast to the early going. The Rams owned the opening quarter, leading 21-3, and carried a 31-17 lead into the halftime break.
With a 14-7 edge in points in the third quarter, the Rams still looked like they had the Broncos by their collective throats, with a solid 21-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
But thereâ€™s a reason why the third-place Broncos finished 6-4 during the regular season, two points back of the second place Rams (7-3).
Momentum shifted dramatically in the fourth quarter, and the Rams were fortunate to escape with the win.
Broncos quarterback Steve Schuweiler had about as great a game as a player can possibly have in a losing cause. He was good on 28 of his 45 passes for a mind-boggling 543 yards and four touchdowns, with just one interception.
Schuweiler was locked in on receivers Derek Yachison and Devin Csincsa. Yachison caught eight balls for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Csincsa made 10 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown.
â€œOn the offensive side of the ball, they have a very talented quarterback who can sit back and zing the ball,â€ Alamolhoda said. â€œAnd their offensive coordinator is a very intelligent guy.â€
The Rams countered with a near unstoppable run game, led by Nathan Lund who carried the ball 15 times for 185 yards, including a 52 yard scamper for a touchdown.
Langley quarterback Jordan McCarty had an efficient day, completing eight of 16 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns, with zero interceptions.
â€œOur pass game was efficient â€“ we didnâ€™t turn the ball over, but our run game was obviously the key to the game,â€ Alamolhoda said.
Down by two late in the final quarter, the Broncos gambled by kicking the ball to the Rams and hoping their defence would hold strong, so they would get it back, but Langleyâ€™s offence was able to run out the clock.
â€œWe were able to finish the game with the run, by killing time on the clock,â€ Alamolhoda said.
Big plays were the order of the day for the Rams. Daniel Englishâ€™s lone reception was a 78 yard catch-and-run for a major.
Malcolm Williams made three catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Ramsâ€™ touchdowns were scored by Jacob Patko (with both a reception and a run for majors) Jordan McCarty, English, Williams, and Lund.
Steve Thomas added a pair of field goals to the Ramsâ€™ point totals.
Defensively, Langleyâ€™s Kyle Richardson led the way with six tackles and three assisted tackles. Derek Trager also had four touchdowns for the Rams.
For the Broncos, Yachison and Schuweiler scored a pair of majors apiece. Csincsa and Cory Rollings also scored touchdowns for Kamloops, which also got a field goal from Jonaus Levac.
FINAL WHISTLE: The Rams suffered a big blow when their starting linebacker, BCFC all-star Ethan Schulz, was injured early in the game. Overall, Langleyâ€™s defence is banged up.
â€œWe need to get healthy and we expect the guys behind them [the starters] to stand up and play at higher level and compete, and we need them to,â€ Alamolhoda said.