The defending B.C. Football Conference champion Langley Rams appeared poised to kick off their 2015 season with a win late Saturday afternoon in Nanaimo.
Then the second half happened.
Leading 14-9 at halftime, the Rams coughed the ball up five times and were outscored 13-0 during the second half in a 22-14 loss to their longtime rivals, the Vancouver Island (VI) Raiders at Caledonia Park.
Rams head coach Jeff Alamolhoda said his team showed flashes of what they’re capable of during the game but couldn’t sustain momentum over four quarters of football.
“We didn’t execute when we had our opportunities, and we did get our opportunities a lot of times,” Alamolhoda said. “We just didn’t capitalize. We weren’t able to put drives together and put points on the board and that hurt us in the long run.”
The Rams scored all 14 of their points during the second quarter, courtesy of touchdown receptions from running back Jordan Traversy and tailback Nathan Lund.
But the visitors weren’t able to muster any points in the first, third, and fourth stanzas.
A turning point came early in the fourth quarter, with the Raiders trailing 14-12.
Raiders linebacker Dexter Shea recovered a Rams fumble at midfield and took it down to the Langley nine-yard line before quarterback Liam O’Brien put it in the endzone on second and goal on a naked bootleg to give his team a five-point lead.
Also scoring a major for the Raiders was receiver Dustin Rodriguez.
Raiders’ kicker Matias Bueno was good on both of his field goal attempts while also booting a pair of converts.
Meanwhile, Rams kicker Brian Hope missed his lone field goal try from 25 yards out.
Offensively, Rams quarterback Devoun Hallums had a decent day, connecting on 19 of 36 pass attempts for 284 yards and two touchdowns.
Two of Hallums’ passes were picked off.
The Rams’ ground game sputtered as the game wore on, with a paltry 11 total yards rushing in the second half.
Leading Langley’s defence in a losing cause were defensive lineman Brock Gowanlock with four quarterback sacks, three tackles, and one assist, defensive back Darrian Matassa-Fung with five tackles, one assist, and one knockdown, and defensive lineman Alex Agnoletto with four tackles and three assists.
An 0-1 start doesn’t worry Alamolhoda, because there are nine games still to go in the BCFC season. “Definitely, no time to press the panic button at this stage. We saw glimpses of being really good and what we can do.”
FINAL DOWN: The Rams were looking for a winning start to their campaign after coming off a 2014 season that saw them go 7-3 and win both of their playoff games, before losing on home soil to the Saskatoon Hilltops in the Canadian Bowl, emblematic of the national junior football championship.
The Rams will look for their first win when they visit the Kamloops Broncos this Sunday, Aug. 2 at Hillside Stadium.
– Files from Scott McKenzie, Nanaimo Daily News