The Langley Rams punched their ticket to the B.C. Football Conference title game by blanking the Westshore Rebels Saturday at McLeod Stadium.
The Rams romped to a 330 shutout of the Rebels from Victoria, in a semifinal battle featuring teams that finished the regular season with near identical records.
Langley finished second in the BCFC with a 7-2-1 record, the Rebels third at 7-3.
A near brawl broke out following the game, resulting in Langley Mounties being called in to do some crowd control [See story on page A1].
As for the game itself, the Rams had one of their most complete outings of the season, highlighted by Nick Downey's 120-yard return for a touchdown on a missed field goal.
Downey's touchdown, scored with 1: 05 to go in the first half, put the Rams up 10-0.
His major set a Canadian Junior Football League record for longest return off a field goal miss.
Defensively, Langley's defenders were Ram tough, holding the Rebels to six first downs in total, and just one over the course of the second half.
The Rams limited the Rebels to 110 yards net offence and minus-one yards rushing in the second half.
." "Our defence played very, very well," Rams' head coach Jeff Alamolhoda said.
"Our offence got off a little flat, a little slow, but Nick Downey's return was a turning point for us."
On top of Downey's electrifying touchdown, the Rams' other majors were scored by Daniel Xavier, who ran the ball to pay-dirt from a yard out with 12: 31 to go in the fourth quarter, and Michael Patko, on a 28-yard reception from quarterback Greg Bowcott with 2: 26 remaining.
Nick Naylor booted three field goals and added three touchdown conversions and a single to the Rams' totals.
"I knew our guys were going to be ready going into a playoff game," Alamolhoda said. "Some of our guys were a little shell-shocked at first and had to get acclimatized to the game speed and tempo, but then the guys started making plays. That's what we asked of them: go out, have fun, and make plays."
The Rams will now play for the BCFC championship for the second straight year.
In a rematch of the 2011 Cullen Cup, the MO Rams will face the PHO six-time defending ONL B.C. champions from Nanaimo, the Vancouver Island Raiders.
Kickoff at Nanaimo's Caledonia Park is 1 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 27).
The Raiders handed the Rams their only two losses this season. The last time the two rivals met at Caledonia Park, way back on Aug. 11, the teams battled to a 31-31 tie. The teams played twice this season at McLeod Stadium with the Raiders winning 41-29 on Sept. 22 and then eking out a 34-32 victory on Oct. 6.
The title game will feature the top offence in the BCFC versus the stingiest defence.
The Raiders tallied 457 points during the campaign, while the Rams allowed just 161.
It will also feature the BCFC's Offensive Player of the Year (Raiders' quarterback Jordan Yantz) against the Defensive Player of the Year (Rams' linebacker Adam Konar).
The Rams will have their work cut out for them. The Raiders pulled away from the rest of the BCFC during the regular season with an undefeated, 9-0-1 record. The Nanaimo powerhouse downed the Okanagan Sun 34-8 in their semifinal match-up earlier Saturday.
In the 2011 Cullen Cup, the Raiders shut out the Rams 44-0 at Caledonia Park.
"It's going to be a hard-fought game," Alamolhoda predicted.
"We have a lot of respect for their coaches and what they've been able to be accomplish. They've been a class act for years. They play hard, they play fast, and they play physical, and that's [how you play] football."
Langley has one tie to show for their three meetings this season but Alamolhoda is hopeful heading into Saturday.
"Four times is a charm," Alamolhoda said.
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