Langley Rams rally to end Raiders streak as teams play to 31-31 draw
The Langley Rams nearly did the unthinkable and beat the Vancouver Island (VI) Raiders at Nanaimo’s Caledonia Park.
The Rams rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to score a touchdown and two-point conversion as they tied the Raiders 31-31 on Saturday in week two action of the B.C. Junior Football Conference. Both teams improved to 1-0-1.
Langley had a chance for the win, but Nick Naylor’s 48-yard field goal on the game’s final play was short of the crossbar and the Raiders ran the ball out of the end zone to avoid conceding a single point.
Langley did manage to end the Raiders’ 33-straight regular season home winning streak, but that is little consolation to Rams coach Jeff Alamolhoda.
“We see it as we still didn’t win,” he said.
“Our goal was to go over there and win and we didn’t accomplish that.”
The coach was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We came out and fought for 60 minutes,” he said.
“They fought hard and that is what we are most proud of coming out of that game.”
The Rams led 8-0 after one quarter, but were down 14-8 at the half.
The Raiders built on their lead and were up 31-23 in the fourth quarter but Rams quarterback Greg Bowcott threw his fourth touchdown pass to Malcolm Williams to pull the team within two. Bowcott and Williams then connected on the two-point convert attempt to square things up.
The Langley defence then forced a two-and-out on the Raiders next possession but were denied on the final drive of the game for the winning points.
The fact the Rams came back to earn a point was a positive, Alamolhoda admitted, as there were several points his players could have packed it in when they fell behind.
“Usually in those situations, against VI, teams have a tendency to pack it in and fold,” he said.
“Our guys fought back, which in Caledonia Park, is rare. You rarely see a team fight back from a deficit (here).”
Alamolhoda was referring to the fact the Raiders have not lost a home regular season game since week two of 2005, the team’s inaugural year. Since their inception seven years ago, the Raiders have won the past six BCFC titles and also won three Canadian national titles (2006, 2008 and 2009).
“We had a few opportunities to do it, but it was those small little details that prevented us,” Alamolhoda said.
“We needed every one of those plays if we want to beat a team like VI.”
The Raiders had defeated the Rams 44-0 in the Cullen Cup last October, the BCFC’s championship game.
VI also won 56-19 and 39-13 during the regular season.
“It was important that we knew we could play at this level,” Alamolhoda said.
“We understand that (Raiders) program is a great program and has been so for many years now.
“That is the bar that has been set (and) it was a good measuring stick to see where we are.”
Statistically, the game was very even as the Rams out-gained the Raiders 475 yards to 460 and both teams turned the ball over once.
Bowcott was 23-for-31 for 286 yards and the four touchdown passes, three of which went to Williams. The receiver finished with 111 yards. Steven Martinez caught the other touchdown and finished with 41 yards.
Running back Daniel Xavier finished with 125 yards along the ground on 22 carries, while Kyle Albertini had 43 yards on six rushes and four catches for 27 yards. He also caught a two-point convert.
Nick Downey caught five passes for 64 yards, had a 65 yard touchdown called back, returned three punts for 63 yards and had another 53 yards on his lone kickoff return.
Carlo Graziano led Langley’s defence with six tackles and Jordan Linnen had four tackles and two batted balls.
Dan Broberg, Sheldon Van Roon and Daniel Sharpe had sacks.
The Rams have their home opener on Saturday when they welcome the Chilliwack Huskers (0-2) to McLeod Park. Game time is 8 p.m.