Langley Rams ramble to lopsided win over Vancouver Island Raiders

Take away the fact they were facing their longtime rival and defending B.C. champion Vancouver Island Raiders from Nanaimo.

Or that they were playing their final home game of the regular season.

And forget that they were looking to avenge a 52-44 loss to the Raiders the last time the teams met Aug. 23 at Caledonia Park in Nanaimo.

Erase all those factors from the equation, and the Langley Rams still had no shortage of motivation heading into Saturday’s match-up at McLeod Stadium.

That’s because their teammate and junior national team member, offensive lineman Jesse Lawson, sat on the sidelines, watching the game, as he begins the long road to recovery from emergency surgery on his lower left leg.

The 6’6” 270-pound Lawson had been hampered by calf pain recently and soon after, was in hospital for emergency surgery to repair compartment syndrome, which occurs when excessive pressure builds up inside an enclosed space in the body.

“He won’t be back all year for us,” Rams head coach Jeff Alamolhoda said. “It depends on how his muscle responds to the surgery, but if all goes well, he might possibly have a full recovery.”

Another motivator was playing in memory of linebacker J.T. Fernandez. The 21-year-old from Cloverdale, who was a member of the Okanagan Sun, died suddenly late last week under unknown circumstances.

“A lot of guys [with the Rams] played with him,” Alamolhoda said. “They felt like they lost a brother. It was tough. So we had a lot to fight for, a lot to leave on the line for.”

The Rams delivered by trouncing the Raiders 53-14.

The win improves the Rams’ record to 6-2. The Langley juniors remain tied in second place in the BCFC with the Kamloops Broncos (also 6-2).

Both teams trail the frontrunning Sun (7-1) by two points in the standings.

The loss dropped the Raiders to 3-5, as they occupy sole possession of fourth place in the league.

The Westshore Rebels sit fifth at 2-6 followed by the still winless, 0-8 Valley Huskers.

In Fernandez’s memory, the teams gathered together at centre field after the game, and took a knee in a moment of respect.

Before that, the Rams dominated, leading 28-7 at halftime and 35-14 after three quarters of play, before capping the rout off by outscoring the Raiders 18-0 in the final quarter.

“It was one of the better games we’ve played in the sense of putting it all together,” Alamolhoda said. “All three phases [offence, defence and special teams], we put together for 60 minutes.”

Rams quarterback Jordan McCarty completed 12 of 19 passes for 245 yards, along with four touchdown passes.  

Daniel English caught three of those passes for 76 yards while hauling in two touchdown tosses from McCarty.  

Malcolm Williams made five receptions plus a major, while Nathan Lund also caught a touchdown pass.

Lund was also busy on the ground, with a game high 11 carries for 55 yards and two touchdowns.  

Jordan Traversy chipped in with seven carries for 37 yards.

The Rams defence imposed its will by creating six turnovers including three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and a turnover on downs.  

The Rams were led by Marcus Brown who had a fumble recovery, an interception, and three solo tackles.  

Steven Martinez intercepted a pass and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.  

English also made an interception on a Raiders fake punt.

The Rams collected four sacks on the day.  Adam Marchetti had one and shared one with Brock Gowanlock, while Luke Andrews and Dylan Roper each had one.

Kicker Steve Thomas also got into the act by recovering a fumble.

Thomas successfully converted all seven of the Rams’ touchdowns.

Alamolhoda couldn’t be more proud of his players.

“I felt everybody was committed to playing at the highest level, and that was probably due to a lot of adversity that they faced during the week,” Alamolhoda said.

The Rams bench boss added that his team was “committed to focus. They wanted to win and sacrificed what it took to get the win. I think the guys realize now what it takes to win big games.”

The Rams have two games remaining before playoffs, and both are on the road starting this Sunday afternoon, Sept. 28, at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna, where they will visit the Sun.

 

– With files from BCFC reporter Ryan Watters

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