Langley Rams players celebrate a touchdown on the sidelines during Sunday's 31-29 semifinal victory over the Okanagan Sun at Kelowna's Apple Bowl.

Rams upset Suns, advance to league championship game

Defence comes through, stopping two-point convert attempt in game's final seconds

It is only fitting that the Langley Rams-Okanagan Sun semifinal playoff game went down to the wire.

After all, the two B.C. Junior Football Conference rivals met twice during the regular season and the games came down to the final seconds, with the Sun winning both times.

So with seven seconds left in Sunday’s semifinal at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl, the Suns lined up for a two-point conversion, which would have forced overtime.

Rams head coach Jeff Alamolhoda, who doubles as the team’s defensive co-ordinator, was worried, wanting to make sure he had accounted for anything the Sun may try.

“My heart was racing,” he admitted. “It was in my throat.”

The Rams stopped the Okanagan attempt and then recovered the Sun’s last-ditch attempt, an onside kick.

And with that, Langley won 31-29 to advance to the league’s championship game this Saturday in Nanaimo against the undefeated Vancouver Island Raiders.

Against the Sun, quarterback Jon Roney threw four touchdown passes — two apiece to receivers Nick Downey and Daniel English — and kicker Nick Naylor added four converts and a field goal.

The Rams never trailed, leading 10-0 after one quarter, and then hanging on.

“In order for us to pull out a win, we would need to execute for 60 minutes,” Alamolhoda said.

“And sure enough, it came right down to the last seconds of the game and this time, the boys pulled it out.

“They really stepped up to the plate and played well.”

Okanagan out-gained Langley 451 yards to 296, but the Rams defence came up big with three turnovers, including an interception in the end zone in the second quarter by Carlo Graziano.

Joe Lester also had an interception and a fumble recovery.

Linebacker Arie Nakagawa led the defence with 12 tackles and one assist, while Andrew Doherty and Jordan Linnen had seven tackles apiece.

Scott Puffer and Kurt Pederson both had quarterback sacks.

“We knew we weren’t going to be able to play conservative if we wanted to win, so we were very aggressive and we put the ball in our players’ hands that we thought gave us the best chance to be successful,” Alamolhoda said.

“(Jon) Roney managed the game very well and gave us an opportunity to win. And he put up four touchdowns for us.”

Roney was slated to be the Rams top quarterback this season, but he suffered a third degree shoulder separation prior to the regular season beginning, sending him to the sidelines for much of the year.

But once healthy, he found himself back in the line-up after injuries to the quarterback position, and he made the most of his second chance.

“He has stepped up to the plate and taken the reigns,” the coach said.

The Rams play the BCFC championship game on Saturday at Nanaimo’s Caledonia Park against the Raiders.

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