One streak ended, while another came within a few feet of ending Saturday in Nanaimo.
The Langley Rams put a stop to the Vancouver Island (VI) Raiders’ 30-game regular season home winning streak, by tying the Raiders 31-31 in B.C. Football Conference action.
The Rams also came a few feet short of ending the Nanaimo squad’s regular season home undefeated streak when Nick Naylor’s 48-yard game winning field goal attempt fell short of the crossbar on the final play of the game.
“We were extremely happy with how we played but we’re still unsatisfied with the outcome,” Rams’ head coach Jeff Alamolhoda said. “We had multiple opportunities throughout the game to take advantage of some situations that would have given us the win. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take advantage of those situations and it cost us in the long run.”
Tying the defending B.C. champions, not to mention the team that crushed them 44-0 in the BCFC final this past October, and still being unsatisfied shows just how far the Rams have come since they dropped anchor in Langley last season.
“It’s a testament to their character and how they’ve become a team and a family together,” Alamolhoda said. “They’ve worked really hard to get to this point. They [the Rams’ players] were happy to see that their hard work is paying off.”
He added, “They saw an opportunity fall through their fingers. This is keeping them hungry to continue to get better for [the] next time we see VI in our house.”
Naylor opened the scoring when his 25-yard field goal attempt sailed wide for a single point just five minutes into the contest.
Then, Steve Martinez hauled in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Greg Bowcott to give the Rams an 8-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Raiders’ quarterback Jordan Yantz answered back by throwing a pair of touchdown passes in the final five minutes of the second quarter to give the home team a 14-8 halftime lead.
Yantz, who attended the BC Lions training camp in June, came out of the break firing bullets and took only three passes to cover 80 yards and give the Raiders a 21-8 lead just one minute into the third quarter.
Rams star returner/receiver Nick Downey struck back with what appeared to be a 65-yard touchdown pass from Bowcott, but the speedy pass catcher was flagged for offensive pass interference, much to the dismay of the Rams’ coaching staff which witnessed the play directly in front of the Langley bench.
The call seemed to take a bit of wind out of the Rams’ sails, but they kept battling and were rewarded when Bowcott found wide receiver Malcolm Williams for a 25-yard touchdown strike to make the score 21-15 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Raiders went up 24-15 with a 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, but three minutes later, Bowcott once again went to Williams in the end-zone with a 26-yard pass to narrow the deficit to 24-21.
Bowcott then hit Kyle Albertini with a five-yard, two-point convert pass and suddenly it was a one-point game with 11 minutes remaining.
Things didn’t look good for the Rams when Yantz threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day, this one a 30-yard strike that made the score 31-23 with just three minutes remaining in the game.
However, Bowcott was up to the challenge and came right back with a nine-play, 70-yard drive that was fueled by the strong running of Daniel Xavier and was capped off with a two-yard touchdown pass to Williams.
Williams’ third touchdown reception of the game pulled the Rams to within two points, but the Pitt Meadows native wasn’t done yet as he also hauled in the two-point convert pass from Bowcott to tie the game at 31-31 with 1:30 to go.
A minute-and-a-half is more than enough time for a quarterback of Yantz’s ability to drive the field for the winning points, but the Rams’ defence would have none of it.
The defensive line first sacked Yantz, and then Tanner Hamade swatted away a pass attempt that would have put the Raiders into Rams’ territory, forcing them to punt from their own 40-yard line.
The Raiders then made a near fatal mistake by punting the ball into the hands of Downey. The three-time CJFL special teams player of the year scooped up the ball deep in his own end, got a huge block from Jordan Linnen, and then almost took it to the house as he slashed his way through the kick cover team all the way to the Raiders’ 39-yard line.
A dropped pass kept the Rams from moving deeper into Raiders’ territory and the Nanaimo squad held on second down to force Naylor’s potential game-winning field goal attempt at the end of the contest.
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