For a Langley Rams squad searching for its first win of the season, the Valley Huskers couldn’t have come along at a better time.
After all, the Chilliwack-based squad has been the B.C. Football Conference’s punching bag for the past few years, and finished last season winless at 0-10.
The Rams, coming off a 42-34 loss to Victoria’s Westshore Rebels in their 2016 BCFC debut, made the most of their opportunity when they travelled to Chilliwack’s Exhibition Stadium to take on the Huskers on Saturday.
The Rams evened their record to 1-1 on the season with a 39-0 win over the Huskers, whose record dropped to 0-2.
“It definitely feels nice to get a win,” Rams head coach Khari Joseph said. “We talked about starting fast and playing disciplined and we did that in the first half. It helps us re-affirm everything we’ve talked about: if we do things the right way, everything will turn out in the end.”
“It’s about starting fast and I felt that’s what we didn’t do the week before [in the loss to Westshore],” Joseph added. “That was a focus for us as team.”
Rams kicker Tiernan Docherty scored the game-winning point with an 85 yard single on the game’s opening kickoff and less than two minutes later Nathan Lund scored on a spectacular 90-yard touchdown run.
Docherty kicked the convert and then added another single on the ensuing kickoff to make the score 9-0 for the Rams with 13:13 remaining in the opening quarter.
Docherty wasn’t done yet as the former SFU Clan kicker hit a 50-yard field goal to make the score 12-0 midway through the quarter.
The Rams defensive unit came up big later in the quarter when Shaiheem Charles-Brown stripped Huskers quarterback Noah Falconer of the ball and teammate Carmelo Brancati recovered the fumble at the Huskers 29 yard line.
It took only two plays from there for Langley Secondary product Stephen Legare, starting his second consecutive game for the Rams, to find Nick Agnoletto with a 33 yard touchdown strike to make the score 19-0 with 5:08 to go in the opening stanza.
Tiernan Docherty put three more points on the board with a 39 yard kick to make the score 22-0 after the first quarter
Four minutes into the second quarter Legare found Agnoletto for another score, this time a 17 yard toss that made the score 29-0 for the Rams.
Quarterback Jordan Fox has been used by the Rams on short yardage situations but the former Abbotsford Panther found a seam and scampered 17 yards for a touchdown to make the score 36-0 midway through the second quarter.
The first half ended with Legare getting picked off in the end zone by Huskers defensive back Cody Lawler, keeping the score 36-0 at the break.
The only scoring in the third quarter was a 31-yard field goal by Rams back-up kicker Wayne Palmer.
The highlight of the night for the Huskers came in the final moments when it looked like Keenan Godden had scored on a 92 yard touchdown reception, unfortunately for Godden and the Huskers the play was negated by an offside call and the game ended with the score 39-0 for the Rams.
Joseph would have liked to see the Rams finish stronger, but noted that penalties during the second half put them out of their rhythm. At the same time, the second half was about giving players much valuable experience with the outcome well in hand.
“It’s playing guys, getting guys some reps,” Joseph said. “We have to develop our young players. We want to give opportunities for others to play – that’s always a good learning experience.”
Legare was good on 10 of his 18 pass attempts for 161 yards, a pair of touchdowns and an interception. His favorite target was Nick Agnoletto, who caught four passes for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Lund led all rushers with 119 yards and a touchdown.
Shaiheem Charles-Brown spearheaded the Rams’ defence with a pair of sacks, three tackles, a forced fumble, and a knocked down pass.
The Rams return home for Joe Connelly Night this Saturday, Aug. 6 when they host the Kamloops Broncos. Kickoff for the Rams’ home opener is 7 p.m. at McLeod Stadium.
Joseph is looking forward to playing in front of the home fans for the first time since Sept. 26, 2015, when they fell 24-18 to Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Raiders.
“We’re jacked up,” Joseph said. “This is the second year in a row that we’ve had two away games to start season, so it’s always nice to play in our backyard and have our fans cheering us on.”
FINAL WHISTLE: Rams kicker Tiernan Docherty played a big part in the win.
He was good on both of his field goal attempts as well as making all four of his converts, booted five punts with a 47.6 yard average, and his six kickoffs averaged 62.5 yards each.
Docherty, who joins the Rams this season out of Simon Fraser University, established a franchise record on the night with a 78 yard punt and tied a club record with an 85 yard kick off.
As a result, he was named as the BCFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
– Files from Chris Swartz, Langley Rams media