The Langley Rams’ junior football season ended on a cool, wet Sunday afternoon in Kelowna.
The host Okanagan Sun edged the Rams 26-23 in overtime, in their B.C. Football Conference semifinal match-up at the Apple Bowl.
Kealey Heintz connected for the winning points with a 34-yard field in extra time, sending the Sun to the Cullen Cup final against the Westshore Rebels in two weeks time in Victoria.
The Rams had a chance to take the lead with just over a minute remaining in regulation but Tiernan Docherty’s field goal attempt missed the mark and Okanagan’s Jamie Turek was able to get the ball out of the end zone, avoiding giving up a single point.
Prior to the miss, Docherty was perfect in booting three field goals, his longest from 41 yards away.
“He was the reason why we were in a position to even have a chance to win,” Rams head coach Khari Joseph said of Docherty, the Rams’ BCFC all-star kicker.
Then, with the game tied 23-23, and the Sun facing third down and 10 at their own 20-yard line, Sun defensive back Raquille Cespedes ran for a first down – by a matter of inches – to help his club retain possession and force overtime.
The game was thriller between two closely matched teams, something Joseph predicted would happen.
“We felt good going in, that our game plan was set up for us to be in a close game at the end,” Joseph said.
“That’s the kind of game we knew it was going to be, and it was unfortunate that we were unable to get the win. Play to play, everybody gave their all. It just didn’t work out.”
The Sun jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and led 20-6 at halftime.
The Rams scored a touchdown during third quarter, and added 10 more points in the fourth stanza as they went on a 17-0 run to move ahead 23-20 late, but couldn’t put the Sun away.
Heintz connected on a field goal with 4:13 to play in regulation to bring the teams even again.
Langley quarterback Tommy Robertson completed four of 10 passes; two of his completions were for touchdowns to Jay Jay Jackson and Jules Kehler.
While the Rams fell just short, they put in a strong effort, which, Joseph said, is all he and the coaching staff could ask for: “I’m proud of the guys, the way they fought, and battled, and stuck to the game plan. It’s unfortunate we didn’t win but that’s the way football goes sometimes. I was encouraged with the way they fought.”
Each team had 12 first downs on the day, with the Rams having the edge in total net offence (251 yards to 183 for Okanagan).
Langley’s defence was outstanding in the second half, limiting the Sun to three points and seven yards net offence.
Reflecting on the season as a whole, Joseph said there were a lot of positives.
Langley finished the regular season third in the BCFC with a 6-4 record, two points back of the 7-3 Sun and five behind the front-running Rebels.
Rams’ BCFC 2016 C&D Logistics offensive all-stars including receiver Khalik Johnson, offensive lineman Chae Faickney, and Docherty while defensive all-stars were defensive lineman Nick Westad, and linebacker Brendan Desjardine.
“There was a lot of changeover – new players, new coaches – and I felt the way we came together at mid-season and were playing well is encouraging for next year,” Joseph said. “We are going to lose players every year but we have a good core coming back. We laid a good foundation this year, of players.”
– Files from Warren Henderson, Kelowna Capital News