As has been the case for much of the season, penalties doomed the Langley Rams.
The Rams thought they had scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of their B.C. Football Conference semifinal against the Vancouver Island (V.I.) Raiders, only to have the play called back on a holding penalty.
Langley would settle for three points on a field goal and instead of being up 31-28, were down 28-27. And despite getting another crack to score the go-ahead points, they could not and fell short of advancing to the championship final.
The semifinal was played at Nanaimo’s Caledonia Park on Saturday afternoon.
“Just too many errors,” said Rams head coach Jeff Alamolhoda.
“As a team, as a unit, we made errors, individually at times throughout that game we made errors and it cost us.”
Langley threw a surprise at the Raiders, starting Bobby Pospischil — the team’s leading receiver — under centre as the starting quarterback.
And Pospischil led the team with 133 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns, plus one passing touchdown to Seye Akinsanmi.
He also threw three interceptions.
“(Bobby) did a great job. We knew there was going to be errors but we also knew that the plays he was going to make were going to be greater than the errors he was doing to commit,” Alamolhoda said.
After the Raiders scored first to lead 7-0, the Rams scored the next 17 points to lead 17-7. V.I. would answer back with a pair of touchdowns to lead 21-17 at the half and neither team found the score sheet in the third.
In the fourth quarter, Langley took the lead 24-21 only to have the Raiders answer back with a touchdown of their own. And then the Rams had their potential go-ahead score taken off the board, settling for Brian Hope’s second field goal instead.
Trailing by one point, Langley did get another crack but could not get into field goal range.
“We scored what could have been the game-winning touchdown but again, we commit a holding penalty,” the coach lamented.
“That is something that we have been trying to correct and get our players to understand the techniques that are required, how to prevent yourself from getting penalized in situations like that. It seemed like all year we have struggled with penalties and this was no different.
“The game was right there, it was a hard fought battle and it came down to the team that made the least amount of errors in critical moments.”
Langley out-gained the Raiders 322 yards to 309 — including 245 to 99 along the ground — but V.I. scored four touchdowns to the Rams’ three and also won the turnover battle with three interceptions compared to one.
The lone turnover forced by Langley was an interception from linebacker Brendan Desjardine.
The Rams were also flagged 14 times for 126 yards compared to nine for 80 yards by their opponents.
This was the third time the Raiders beat the Rams with the victories coming by a combined 15 points.
Langley was looking to advance to a fifth-straight Cullen Cup championship game.
But despite coming up short, Alamolhoda felt the season helped build a great foundation for his relatively-young team.
“We got experiences and learned some valuable lessons and adversity,” he said.
“I believe at the end of the day it has made them greater people, greater men and greater football players. We can build off this foundation for the next couple of years and we are excited to see where this could go.”