Langley Rams' Jesse Cervas (#11) goes low to bring down Okanagan Sun running back Brenden Hansen during Saturday's BCFC game at McLeod Athletic Park. Cervas had a game-high eight tackles but the Rams lost 15-10 to fall to 4-2 on the season. Okanagan improved to 6-0.

Sun prevail in defensive dogfight

Langley, Okanagan combine for 11 turnovers, just one offensive touchdown in first-place showdown

Langley Rams coach Khari Joseph is taking the blame for Saturday night’s loss to the Okanagan Sun.

With his team up 10-7 in the fourth quarter, the lights went out at McLeod Athletic Park during the teams’ BC Junior Football League contest.

And after the teams returned to the field following a 20-minute delay, the Sun drove the ball down the field, capping it off with quarterback Keith Zyla calling his own number and scoring from 23 yards out.

It was the game’s lone offensive touchdown as the league’s top two defences went toe-to-toe.

The victory improved the Sun to 6-0 and instead of being in a three-way tie for top spot, the Rams fell to third at 4-2.

“After the power went out, we didn’t come out focused, that’s on me,” Joseph said.

“(And) when you have a quarterback running, it adds an extra blocker. We didn’t adjust to that very well and that’s on me as well.

“He broke a couple of runs and got them in a position to get up on us and we couldn’t move the ball effectively enough to get a score.”

In the first half, the Rams held the Sun to five first downs and 80 yards of net offence. But after Okanagan switched to Zyla at quarterback, the offence found some rhythm. Zyla threw for 94 yards and ran for another 84, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the team’s 291 yards of net offence.

The teams combined for 11 turnovers as the Sun lost three fumbles and turned the ball over on downs twice while the Rams offence had two interceptions, two fumbles and two turnover on downs.

One of those fumbles was extra costly as return man Nick Agnoletto fumbled a first quarter punt at his own goal-line which Okanagan’s Jamie Turek recovered in the end zone.

Langley scored the next nine points as Tieran Docherty — the league’s special teams player of the week for the fourth time in six weeks — hit on field goals of 47, 34 and 30 yards, respectively.

The Rams made it 10-7 on a missed 44-yarder from Docherty in the third quarter.

“We had it exactly where we wanted it. It was the type of game we preached all week it was going to be. But we didn’t follow through in the end. That’s a learning experience.”

Langley’s final drive ended with less than a minute to go after the team came up one-yard short at the Okanagan 38-yard line on a third-down gamble.

While the defence continued to do a great job — the Sun and Rams are tied for fewest points allowed at 15.7 per game — Joseph said they failed to step up when it mattered most.

“We preach that we want to be the best defence … you can’t let a team drive on you and score in the fourth quarter when we need to win the game,” he said. “That is the frustrating part. For as well as we played, we still had that lapse where we gave them that long drive.”

The Rams defence got fumble recoveries from Nathan Carroll and Jules Kheler while Shaiheem Charles-Brown had a quarterback sack, a pass knockdown and a tackle. Adam Marchetti and Nick Westad shared the Rams other sack while also combining to make five tackles. Jesse Cervas and Brendan Desjardine led the team with eight and six tackles, respectively and John Beckerleg made three tackles and knocked down a pair of passes.

The Rams defence allowed 152 yards along the ground, but 84 of those came from Zyla.

When Okanagan used a running back, they managed just 68 yards on 20 carries.

Offensively, they managed just 250 yards of offence — 144 in the first half and 106 in the second — with neither Colby Peters (3-for-9, 21 yards) or Stephen Legare (6-for-16, 98 yards) able to muster much offensively. Legare did add 44 yards along the ground on six carries.

Joe Carter led the rushing attack with 63 yards on 16 yards.

The league is on a bye this weekend with the Rams back in action on Sept. 10 when the host the VI Raiders (3-3) at MAP with a 4 p.m. kick-off.

Joseph said in addition to getting healthy for the season’s final four games, the coaching staff will take a long look at the roster.

“We will re-evaluate the whole team from top to bottom and making the necessary adjustments to finish up strong,” he said.

 

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