A torrential downpour of almost Biblical proportions soaked the Langley Rams and Vancouver Island Raiders Saturday afternoon during their B.C. Football Conference showdown at McLeod Stadium.
Once dusk settled in and the weather settled down, somewhat, the Raiders mucked out a 22-12 road win.
The victory puts the Raiders from Nanaimo in a two-way tie with the Okanagan Sun at the top of the BCFC standings, both with 7-2 records.
The loss ruined any hopes the Rams had of taking first place in the league, as the Langley juniors fell to 6-3 with one game to go in their season.
Defence was a key for both teams, especially the Raiders, who held the Rams to three points in the first quarter, scoreless in the second and third quarters, and nine points in the final quarter.
Rams quarterback Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren connected on 13 of 31 passes for 150 yards while completing a touchdown toss in the fourth quarter to receiver Malcolm Williams. Gilbert-Knorren was also intercepted three times.
Langley kicker Steven Thomas was good on a first-quarter field goal.
Langley’s ground game was led by Kyle Albertini who rushed the ball 15 times for 118 yards.
VI deployed three quarterbacks, with Jaeden Marwick having the most success, completing seven of 15 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown, combining with receiver Alex Thompson. Marwick also ran the ball in for a touchdown from eight yards out.
Raiders kicker Ryan Jones booted a field goal and three singles.
The Raiders led 19-3 at halftime, 22-3 after three quarters of action, and were outscored 9-0 during the final stanza.
“Honestly, I think our defence played great,” Rams head coach Ted Kirby said. “Our defence held them to 22 points and got us out of a lot of bad situations.”
Meanwhile, the Rams offence struggled.
“Our offence just didn’t click,” Kirby said. “We didn’t execute and it showed on the scoreboard.”
A good portion of the credit for Langley’s sputtering offence goes to a Raiders defence directed by defensive coordinator Doug Hocking.
“When you face coach Hocking’s defence, you’ve got your work cut out for you,” Kirby said. “He’s an extremely smart guy and one of the best defensive coordinators this league has ever seen. And forget the elements; they had to play in the elements, as well.”
The loss puts the Rams out of contention for the league title, which means they’ll be playing in the BCFC semifinal, either at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna against the Sun or Caledonia Park in Nanaimo versus the Raiders.
Chances are, the Rams are heading to Kelowna, because this weekend, the world would have to turn on its axis for either the Sun or the Raiders to lose their final games of the regular season.
The Raiders are hosting the 2-7 Westshore Rebels on Saturday, Oct. 5 while the Sun takes on the 2-6-1 Kamloops Broncos on Sunday, Oct. 6.
Assuming both teams win and finish the campaign with 8-2 records, the Raiders will take first place (and an automatic berth in the BCFC playoff final) based on a higher points for/against ratio from the two games the teams played against each other this season.
As for the Rams, Kirby believes they have what it takes to make an impact on the road.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m kinda looking forward to it. Road trips are great for the kids to really bond. We don’t have a lot of fans at road games, we’re in hostile territory, and we realize our backs are against the wall. If you don’t have each other’s back, you’re really screwed.”
On the injury front, the Rams “have as many injuries as any other team in this league,” Kirby said.
“It’s October,” he added. “If you don’t have injuries, you’re not a very good football team, in my opinion.”
As for the extreme weather on Saturday, Kirby said it was surreal.
“It was one of those things, almost movie-like how hard it rained,” he said. “It challenged our offence’s execution, but their offence had to play in the exact same conditions.”
The Rams close out their regular season on Saturday, Oct. 5, when they visit Exhibition Stadium in Chilliwack to take on the 2-6-1 Valley Huskers. Opening kickoff is 2:30 p.m.
@ Copyright 2013