The Langley Rams suffered their first decisive loss of the B.C. Football Conference season last weekend.
The Vancouver Island Raiders built a 27-18 halftime lead, and then outscored the visitors 14-9 in the third quarter.
Neither team registered a point in the final stanza in a 41-27 Raiders victory.
Frustrated Rams coach Ted Kirby didn't pull any punches after the loss.
"Honestly, I think it was the worst game we played all year. I feel we played terrible," Kirby said. "We prepared all week like we always prepare, and we got out on the field and we didn't perform. We just did not perform."
A well prepared and fired up Raiders team took full advantage.
"The Raiders came to fight," Kirby said. "They were well prepared and this takes nothing away from them. They came to play football and we barely showed up."
The Raiders, Rams and Okanagan Sun all have 5-2 records, but the Raiders, who have won four straight games, hold the head-to-head point-spread tiebreaker against both teams. They have one more game against the Rams and two against the Westshore Rebels.
"We're starting to play some Raiders football and it's starting to remind me of years past," said VI receiver Whitman Tomusiak, who spent all week practising with the B.C. Lions. "We've got a bit more healthy, and we've got a young team so we're starting to click better. We're still not perfect, but obviously we're playing much better football."
The Rams, meanwhile, are looking to return to their early season form.
After starting the season with four straight wins, outscoring their opponents 214-58 in the process, the Langley juniors have lost two of their last three outings.
"We need to get back to basics and we need to challenge each other and find the heart that we had at the beginning of the season," Kirby said. "Right now we're lacking that."
On Saturday, the Raiders took control in the second quarter, pulling out to a 27-8 lead.
In a balanced attack, five Raiders scored touchdowns including Andrew Deleon, Dylan Schrot, quarterback Jamie Ybarra, Tomusiak, and Mikhail Maloff. Kicker Ryan Jones booted a field goal, single, and five converts.
For the Rams, running back Nathan Lund ran for two touchdowns while receiver Jacob Carvery connected with quarterback Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren for a major score.
Rams kicker Steven Thomas kicked a field goal, single, and three converts.
Gilbert-Knorren was good on 12 of 27 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown. Sixty-one of his 192 yards came on one completion to Dan English.
Gilbert-Knorren also had one of his passes picked off.
His Raiders counterpart, Ybarra, threw the ball often, with mixed results.
While he amassed 375 yards passing for two touchdowns, Ybarra only completed 17 of his 32 attempts and he was intercepted four times, twice by Joe Patko and once each by Tanner Hamade and Ben Sharpe.
The Rams will look to bounce back this Saturday, Sept. 21, when they host the 2-4-1 Valley Huskers at McLeod Stadium. Game time is 7 p.m. The Rams need to take this Huskers team seriously, to get their game back in order.
"They are a much improved football team," Kirby said, regarding the Rams' next opponent.
"I know their head coach quite well. They'll come hungry and will be looking to punch us right in our face, and see if we're prepared."
Josh Aldrich is a reporter with the Nanaimo Daily News
Langley Rams home game What: B.C. Football Conference game Who: Rams vs. Valley Huskers When: Saturday, Sept. 21 starting at 7 p.m. Where: McLeod Stadium Tickets: At the door
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