Up by 16 points late in the third quarter, the Langley Rams could not hold on to their double-digit lead, falling 52-44 to the Vancouver Island (V.I.) Raiders in junior football action.
The two B.C. Football Conference rivals were playing at Nanaimo’s Caledonia Park on Saturday afternoon, with the loss dropping the Rams to 3-1 on the season while the Raiders improved to 2-3.
“It is always tough to take a loss when you know you should have performed better,” said Langley coach Jeff Alamolhoda, who missed the game because of a family wedding.
He did watch the film afterwards and said a combination of too many mistakes from his team, too many big plays from their opponents, as well as some trick-plays, did the Rams in.
The game began on the wrong foot for Langley as the Raiders’ Micheal Ritchott took the opening kick 105 yards for the touchdown. It was one of two kick-off return touchdowns — the other was 108 yards — he scored — as well as a 105-yard pass-and-run score.
“Our special teams, our coverage needs to be better,” Alamolhoda said.
“They had way too many all-purpose yards.”
The Raiders had nearly 500 combined return yards.
Alamolhoda also complimented his opponents’ game plan.
“(The Raiders) came out with an understanding that they had to do a couple of different things to beat us and they did,” he said.
“They executed (a couple) of trick plays, they executed kick-off returns for touchdowns and some big-splash plays that kept them in the game.
“And due to this, it was a fight and at the end of the day, our guys got a realization that they are beatable and we have to get back to work and back to playing Ram football.”
After seemingly having control in the third quarter, Langley surrendered a pair of scores 28 seconds apart to pull the Raiders within two points going into the final quarter. V.I. then scored the only 10 points of the fourth.
“For a young team to learn how to finish games properly and how to win games at the end of tight games,” Alamolhoda said. “It was important to learn those messages and I think we did.”
Dylan Tucker threw for 188 yards and two scores — Daniel English and Kyle Pich caught the touchdown passes — as well as rushing for one score himself. Jordan Traversy (50 yards, four carries) also had a touchdown.
Malcolm Williams caught eight passes for 115 yards while English had five catches for 66 and Pich caught a pair of passes for 23 yards.
The Rams other touchdown came from John Beckerleg on a kick-off return while Steve Thomas was two-for-four on field goal attempts.
For the defence, Ethan Schulz recovered a pair of fumbles which were caused by Alex Benning and Adam Marchetti, respectively.
Brandon Klein had 1.5 sacks. Ryan Nicholls and Saeed Hosain Ali had one sack apiece and Dylan Roper had half a sack.
The Rams will look to return to the win column when they host the 3-1 Kamloops Broncos on Sunday night at McLeod Athletic Park. Game time is 7 p.m.