Sports

Special teams special as Rams open season with victory

Langley Rams’ receiver Jacob Carvery hauls down a pass in front of VI Raiders defender Nigel Henry. The two B.C. Football Conference rivals kicked off the season on Saturday at McLeod Athletic Park with the Rams prevailing 44-36. - Alyssa O
Langley Rams’ receiver Jacob Carvery hauls down a pass in front of VI Raiders defender Nigel Henry. The two B.C. Football Conference rivals kicked off the season on Saturday at McLeod Athletic Park with the Rams prevailing 44-36.
— image credit: Alyssa O'Dell/Langley Times

Big plays helped the Langley Rams survive a second half which saw them unable to move the ball.

The Rams were held to a pair of first downs over the final 30 minutes, but thanks to big plays from their special teams and defence, as well as a half-time lead, Langley kicked off the 2014 B.C. Junior Football Conference season with a 44-36 win over the visiting Vancouver Island Raiders at McLeod Athletic Park on Saturday afternoon.

Langley scored two touchdowns on special teams — a 90-yard kick-off return from John Beckerleg as well as a 70-yard fumble return from Steven Martinez on a botched field goal attempt by the Raiders in the first half. Beckerleg also added an 84-yard interception return for a score as well.

Offensively, quarterback Dylan Tucker was 13-for-20 with two touchdowns and one interception for 223 yards.

Malcolm Williams and Tore Corrado were on the receiving ends of the touchdown passes. Corrado also finished with 122 yards on seven catches.

The rest of the points came off the boot of kicker Steve Thomas, who made three of four field goal attempts and converted all five touchdowns.

The Rams were up 30-14 at the half, but held to 76 yards of offence. A big problem for the team was penalties, as they committed a dozen infractions for 140 yards in the second half alone. For the game, the team was flagged 21 times for 245 yards.

“At times we were executing, other times, we were shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Rams coach Jeff Alamolhoda.

While the team struggled with penalties and were unable to move the ball much in the second half, the coach chalked both problems to the season’s learning curve, especially with no preseason games and a young squad.

“This was a game for them to get their feet wet, learn the tempo of junior football,” he explained about the penalty problems.

And as for the team’s veterans, Alamolhoda said some of the flags were a result of over-exuberance, especially facing a heated rival. The Raiders and Rams have played in the past three BCFC Cullen Cup championship games, with VI winning in 2011 and 2013.

With his team up in the second half, Alamolhoda thought his team might have lost some of their focus.

“I thought the players took their foot off the gas,” he said.

“With Canadian football, the game is never over until the clock reaches zero.

“You have to play a full 60 minutes.”

Regardless, the coach liked what he saw in the opener, especially the play of Beckerleg.

“We knew he was an explosive athlete, we just didn’t know his tenacity in breaking tackles,” the coach said.

Beckerleg was named the league's special teams player of the week.

The bulk of the Raiders offence came from receiver Marshall Cook, who caught 14 passes for 208 yards. As a team, VI had 336 yards of offence.

The Langley defence did register four sacks, led by Brandon Klein’s 1.5, and came up with three turnovers.

In addition to Beckerleg and Martinez’s turnovers which went for scores, Corrado also had a fumble recovery.

The Rams are home this week as they host the Okanagan Sun (1-0) at McLeod Athletic Park on Aug. 2. Kick-off is 7 p.m.

Alyssa O'Dell/Langley Times

Langley Rams' Tore Carrado had a big game on Saturday as he caught seven passes for 122 yards and a touchdown as Langley beat the Vancouver Island Raiders 44-36 at McLeod Athletic Park.

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