The Langley Rams surrendered just one touchdown and less than 300 yards of net offence, but that was not enough to make up for an inconsistent offence as the junior football team started the 2017 season with a loss.
The Rams fell 20-13 to the visiting Vancouver Island (VI) Raiders on Saturday afternoon at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park in the season opener for the BC Junior Football League.
The teams were tied at seven early in the second quarter but the Raiders added a pair of field goals, as well as picking up a pair of points on a conceded safety, to lead 15-7 at the half. Another safety in the third quarter and a field goal in the fourth made it 20-7.
Langley would cut the lead to 20-13 — they missed the extra point — but still had opportunities for the tying score before ultimately coming up short.
“It took us a while to feel the game (and) in the second half, we couldn’t sustain drives and finish in the red zone,” said Langley coach Khari Joseph.
“(But) I was happy that we fought the whole game (and) gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game.
“It didn’t come out in our favour, but the guys never gave up.”
The defence overcame a slow start and kept the Rams in the game for much of Saturday’s contest.
“I think it was a little shaky in the first quarter, but once they got their legs, I think they started to execute and forcing punts, getting positive field position,” Joseph said.
A big problem was penalties as Langley was flagged 11 times for 110 yards. This included a pair of pass interference calls on second and longs, which extended drives for the Raiders.
Joseph called the penalties frustrating, especially the second of those PI calls when he thought the ball was uncatchable.
Langley also had an interception wiped out in the first half on a roughing the passer call.
Offensively, the Rams had trouble stringing together sustained drives.
They had decent success along the ground with 26 carries for 114 yards but the quarterback duo of Rylan Peters and Colby Peters combined to complete just 50 per cent of their passes for 171 yards.
Joe Carter led the ground game with 67 yards on 13 carries, scoring once along the ground. Brett Westad had the other score along the ground.
Khalik Johnson led the receivers with 69 yards on five catches. Johnson thought he had scored the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it was called back on an illegal blocking penalty.
One area the team will need to improve is their pass rush as they failed to sack Raiders’ quarterback Jake Laberge. The quarterback was 14-for-27 for 224 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Another area which needs addressing is the kicking game.
“It just hurts us when we are inconsistent,” the coach said. “Football is about field position and if you can’t control that aspect of the game, you usually don’t win.”
While no one is ever happy to lose, Joseph is confident the team will put this behind them.
“It is the first game of the season,” he said. “We will make out adjustments and fight through it.”
Langley is back in action on Saturday when they travel to Chilliwack to face the Valley Huskers (0-1).