The Langley Rams turned a tight game into a blowout as they closed the regular season by thumping the Westshore Rebels 42-14.
Third place in the B.C. Junior Football Conference was at stake when the two clubs played on Saturday at Victoria’s Bear Mountain Stadium.
Last month, the Rebels came into Langley and won 35-28, meaning the Rams needed to win the rematch — and by more than seven points — to finish third and avoid the powerhouse Vancouver Island Raiders in the semifinals.
“I think just our focus on the task at hand,” said Rams coach Jeff Alamolhoda when asked the difference between the two games against Westshore, which came just three weeks apart.
Prior to that September meeting, the Rebels were coming in having lost a couple of games by big scores.
“We kind of took them for granted initially,” the coach said. “But kudos to them, they smacked us in the mouth right away.”
Heading into the rematch, the coaches and players stressed how important it was for the team to focus.
“Our mentality was this was a playoff game,” Alamolhoda said.
“We knew it was going to be tough (but) the main difference was the focus of our guys.
“You could see it right in the warm up; everybody was there for one reason and one reason only, and that was to win.”
The Rams led 7-3 after one quarter and 17-11 at the half.
But the second half was all Langley, as they tacked on three more touchdowns and 25 points while holding the Rebels to a single field goal.
For Langley, Kyle Albertini accounted for 162 total yards — including 106 along the ground — as well as three touchdowns.
Joe Patko also bulldozed his way into the end zone, making the most of his two carries for seven yards, with both plays resulting in touchdowns.
Quarterback Jon Roney was an efficient 12-for-25 with 231 yards and one touchdown and no interceptions.
As was the case last month when the two teams met, the Rebels avoided kicking to Nick Downey on punts and kickoffs.
Downey was still a factor in the game, catching five passes for 99 yards.
Nick Naylor completed the scoring with four converts and two field goals.
The defence surrendered just one touchdown, while Patko had a fumble recovery and Arie Nakagawa had a quarterback sack.
Carlo Graziano led the team with four tackles.
“Guys really buckled down on what they were going to do and then finished everything, which was a huge difference,” Alamolhoda said.
“Those two components really changed the outcome of the game and the mentality of our team.”
“The win going into the playoffs gives us tons of confidence,” he added.
Langley faces the Okanagan Sun on Sunday (Oct. 16) in a BCFC semifinal game at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl.
The Sun won 33-23 and 15-14 over Langley back in weeks two and three, but the Rams were in position to win both games.
“We love our chances; we feel we had them in both games and we let it slip out of our hands,” Alamolhoda said.
“We feel this time we are not going to let that happen.
“If we are focused and come to play our game, we definitely have a great opportunity to upset them.”