V.I. Raiders’ quarterback Liam O’Brien is flushed out of the pocket by the Langley Rams pass rush. The Rams sacked O’Brien eight times and out-gained the Raiders by 129 yards, but lost 24-18 at McLeod Athletic Park on Saturday afternoon.

V.I. Raiders’ quarterback Liam O’Brien is flushed out of the pocket by the Langley Rams pass rush. The Rams sacked O’Brien eight times and out-gained the Raiders by 129 yards, but lost 24-18 at McLeod Athletic Park on Saturday afternoon.

Rams flagged 21 times in loss

Langley coach takes issue with officiating in crucial 24-18 loss to V.I. Raiders

  • Sep. 28, 2015 10:00 a.m.

Statistically, the game favoured the Langley Rams.

The Rams out-gained the Vancouver Island Raiders 426 yards to 297 yards.

True, the Raiders won the turnover battle, two one, but Langley was a menace all game long, sacking quarterback Liam O’Brien eight times while his Rams counterpart Dylan Tucker was hurried and pressured, but never brought down behind the line of scrimmage.

But Langley was flagged 21 times for 184 yards compared to just five Raiders penalties for 35 yards.

The Raiders also won where it mattered most, on the scoreboard, prevailing 24-18 on Saturday night at McLeod Athletic Park.

The game was a battle for second-place in the B.C. Football Conference as the Raiders secured home-field advantage for next month’s semifinal game.

Heading into this weekend’s regular season finale, the Raiders are 6-3 while Langley is 5-4. A win — or Kamloops Broncos loss — would send the Rams to Nanaimo for the playoff game.

“That is the result of the game right there, the penalty infractions,” said Rams coach Jeff Alamolhoda.

“When a game is called in a manner like that, it is impossible to gain momentum or get your players motivated to continue to compete because it seems every time we did something well or got some sort of momentum, we were brought back due to penalties.

“It is just hard to maintain a game plan and effort when you are continuously being penalized.”

The hardest part is not getting an explanation such as at one point during Saturday’s loss when pass interference was called on the Raiders by one referee, only to have the referees huddle and then say there was no penalty.

“We made errors, yes absolutely, but I don’t believe we made 21 errors,” Alamolhoda said.

He did say that he has spoken with the head of the referees and will be sending in film of Saturday’s game, as well as a follow-up email.

For the season, Langley has been flagged 137 times in nine games for 1,311 yards. By comparison, the opponents have been penalized 95 times for 838 yards in those nine games.

Their primary concern heading into the post-season is correcting their penalty problems.

“We need to know if we are making errors, how to fix them. And if we are making that many errors, we need to go back to the drawing (board),” he said, adding it is not good for the league if fans are unhappy with the on-field product.

“It is not good for our league, for our fans and for football in general, to have a game where it is so one-sided or manipulated by the referees. It no longer becomes entertaining or fun for people to watch.”

As for Saturday’s game, despite the penalty issues, the Rams were still in position for a chance to win.

The defence was solid, but not consistent.

“They had a couple of lapses and those lapses came back to bite us in the butt,” he said.

And on offence, twice the Rams had the ball in the red zone, but threw a pair of picks. Even if they had finished those drives with field goals, those six points would have pulled them even on the scoreboard.

The Rams offence found the end zone just once, a touchdown pass from Tucker to Bobby Pospischil in the first quarter for the game’s opening points.

The rest of the points were from a safety and three field goals from Brian Hope.

The Raiders got one touchdown pass from O’Brien, and the quarterback also called his own number twice for the other two majors.

The coaching staff will be preaching perfection as the Rams get set for Saturday’s regular season finale.

Langley needs either a win or a Kamloops Broncos loss to finish in third spot and get another crack at the Raiders.

“Even if we are faced with adversity, we have to find a way to overcome it and the only way to overcome is by playing perfect and executing to perfection,” the coach said.