Okanagan Sun shines against Langley Rams to lock up top spot

The Okanagan Sun were the thorn that the Langley Rams couldn’t extricate from their collective sides this season.

Of the 6-3 junior Rams’ three losses, two have come to the Sun.

The Sun won the season series against the Rams on Sunday, with a 37-20 victory over Langley at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl.

With the win, the Sun improved to 8-1 and subsequently locked up first place in the six team B.C. Football Conference.

The Sun’s only loss this season came in week two against the Rams, who downed the Kelowna squad 33-20 at McLeod Stadium.

Since then, the Sun have won seven in a row, including a pair of victories over the Rams: 31-10 on Sept. 6 at the Apple Bowl and again on Sunday.

Langley head coach Jeff Alamolhoda said the Rams didn’t help their own cause against the BCFC’s top team.

The Rams coughed the ball up seven times, including three interceptions and four fumbles.

“It’s about providing opportunities to good teams, and we provided them with ample opportunities to score points,” Alamolhoda said.

“We really put ourselves in a situation where we had to dig ourselves out of a hole, midway through the second quarter.”

In the final regular season meeting between the teams, the Rams struggled with field conditions, with wet grass three to four inches long.

Early on, however, the Rams looked primed to hand the Sun their second loss.

Langley’s Ryan Nicholls blocked the Sun’s first punt of game to set up a 23 yard field goal from kicker Steve Thomas.

Later in the first quarter, Rams quarterback Jordan McCarty connected with receiver Malcolm Williams for a 27-yard touchdown pass.

Then, back stormed the Sun.

The Rams kicked the ball to Robbie Yokum, arguably the most dangerous return man in the Canadian Junior Football League, and he made them pay with a 105 yard run for a touchdown.

Then, on the final play of the first quarter, Sun running back Alex Bradley found a hole and ran 50 yards for a touchdown.

The Sun added to their lead in the second quarter on an 11 yard field goal from Thomas Huber.

Langley responded as McCarty completed a 32 yard touchdown pass to Daniel English

The teams headed into halftime tied 17-17, but the break was not good to the Rams.

A series of breakdowns led to 17 Sun points in the first 4:30 of the second half, and the Rams never recovered.

The Sun moved ahead for good after the Rams, pinned in their own end, opted to concede a safety rather than punt to Yokum from their end-zone.

Following the safety, Thomas kicked off from his own 20 and the ball dropped into the hands of Yokum, who took the ball back 95 yards for a touchdown to give his team a 26-17 lead.

Rams returner John Beckerleg then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Sun recovered the ball deep in Rams’ territory.

A few plays later, the Sun scored on a one yard touchdown run by Kasey Russell, as Okanagan moved ahead 33-17.

The Rams took the ball deep into the Sun end, but had to settle for a 23 yard field goal by Thomas, giving them a glimmer of hope, down by 13 with lots of time remaining in the game.

But the Rams’ offence stalled in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Huber booted a 32 yard field goal for a 16-point cushion.

Late in the game, a Sun punt for a single ended the scoring.

“We came out in the first quarter flying around,” Alamolhoda said. “We had an intensity about us that I hadn’t seen this year. I was happy about that, to know what we’re capable of, but we have to put it together for four quarters without making any critical mistakes. It’s a learning process every game, and we’ll continue to learn from this.”

Yochim, who was named BCFC Special Teams Player of the Week, tied a league record by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns.

In all, the Kelowna native returned four kickoffs for 264 yards, a new team record and second all-time in BCFC history.

Even though they are tied in points with the 6-3 Kamloops Broncos, the Rams look in good stead to finish second in the standings.

This weekend, any combination of a Rams win over the 1-8 Valley Huskers on Saturday, or a Kamloops loss to Okanagan would guarantee a second place regular season finish for Rams.

If this happens, the Rams would host Kamloops on Saturday, Oct. 18 in one of two BCFC semifinals. If that game takes place, opening kickoff will be 7 p.m. at McLeod Stadium.

The Sun will host the fourth place VI Raiders from Nanaimo the same weekend.

“We’re in control of our own destiny,” Alamolhoda said. “We want to lock up second place in the conference and go from there.”

If the Rams and Sun both win their semifinals, the Cullen Cup BCFC title game will be played on Sunday, Oct. 26 in Kelowna

If the Rams win and Sun lose to the Raiders in the semifinal, the title game will be on Saturday, Oct. 25 in Langley.

The BCFC champion will host the winner of the Prairie Football Championship in the Canadian national championship game on Saturday, Nov. 8.

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