Chris Swartz, Langley Rams
Photo: Erich Eichhorn / ISN
Sunday August 20, 2017
The Langley Rams team bus was running a little light on Saturday as the injury bug and other circumstances prompted Head Coach Khari Joseph to take only 46 players, nine shy of the 55 dressed the previous week, to the Island for their Canadian Junior Football League game versus the Westshore Rebels.
Among those making the trip to Langford were the BCFC’s leading receiver Khalik Johnson and veteran running back Nathan Lund, both players dressed for the game but did not play.
The young Rams lineup had a tough task ahead of them against a veteran Westshore team bolstered by the return from injury of 22-year-old running back Trey Campbell.
Campbell was a one man wrecking crew and accounted for most of the Rebels offense, he chalked up a combined 265 offensive yards (151 rushing and 115 receiving) and scored three touchdowns on the day.
Langley got off on the wrong foot from the beginning when on the first series of the game they gambled on third and two at the mid field stripe, Joe Carter was stopped a yard short and the Rams turned the ball over on downs.
Westshore jumped on the opportunity and put the ball into Campbell’s hands, the second year Rebel accounted for all 55 yards on four consecutive plays, including a 37-yard reception and a four-yard touchdown run to make the score 7-0 six minutes into the game.
The Rams responded with a huge 76-yard kick-off return by Jordan Lund, the former BC High School Star ran past the entire Rebels cover team before getting tripped up at the Westshore 20-yard line.
Rylan Matters got the nod to start at quarterback for the Rams but the talented Prince George native had a rough outing, with the Rams in position to tie the game the rookie pivot mishandled the first snap of the series and a Rebels defender jumped on the loose ball, dodging a bullet and leaving the Rams with nothing to show for Lund’s big return.
Matters had trouble finding his groove on the next two possessions but the defensive unit held the Rams in the game and had Westshore pinned in their own end of the field, a short punt gave the Rams the ball in scoring position once again at the Rebels 27, two incomplete passes brought out defensive back Kyle Clarot, who was kicking in place of starter Wayne Palmer, for a 34-yard field goal attempt. Clarot was good on the kick and the Rams trailed 7-3 with two minutes remaining in the opening frame.
The Rebels started the next series at their own 37 and a big tackle by Rams linebacker Jacob Dodd forced a two and out punt, Rebels 6’ 5” 300-pound punter/defensive lineman Kent Kicks set up to punt the ball but caught the Rams special teams napping and rambled untouched 18 yards for a first down at the Rams 53, instead of taking a break the Rams defense stayed on the field to defend for an additional eight plays before Hicks had to punt again, this time he did kick the ball and dropped it out of bounds at the Rams four-yard line.
The Rams were un-able to work their way out of the hole and Clarot was called upon to conceded a safety touch back, making score 9-3 Rebels with 11:31 remaining in the half.
Clarot kicked off from his own 35 following the safety and the Rebels ended up with the ball at the Rams 51, it took only one play from there for Campbell to score his second touchdown of the game, the 51-yard run made the score 16-3 Rebels just 30 seconds following the conceded safety.
Matters was back for another series, this time starting at his own 24 and it became apparent that it just wasn’t his day, another dropped snap resulted in a five-yard loss, that was followed by an incomplete pass and Clarot was called in to punt with his back to the Rams goal line, the Rebels fielded the short punt on the 30 but a penalty on the play moved them back to the Rams 40. The Rebels worked their way to the 20 but could get no closer on the stubborn Rams defensive unit. Kyle Clarke hit a 27-yard field goal from there to make the score 19-3 Rebels with seven minutes to go in the second quarter.
Matters day was done after a quarter and a half and Colby Peters took up behind center for the Rams for the next series.
Peters was once again effective coming off the bench and moved the Rams from their own 35 to the Rebels 33 in seven plays, unfortunately the eighth play of the drive was picked off at the 20-yard line and another trip to deep into Rebels territory came up empty.
The sustained drive finally gave the Rams defensive unit a chance to catch their breath and they held the Rebels deep in their own end of the field once more, Hicks lined up to punt but the snap from center sailed over his head and into the end zone where he was tackled for a two-point safety to make the score 19-5 with 2:37 to go in the half.
Another good return by Jordan Lund gave Peters the ball at the Rams 45, this time the second-year pivot utilized a couple of young guns and a pair of veterans for another effective series. Peters completed passes to veterans Ryan MacDonald and Nick Agnoletto to get the drive going and got clutch receptions from rookie Colburn Pearce and second year running back Devin DaCosta to move into the red zone at the Rebels 20. Peters threw for pay dirt from there but his pass fell through the usually sure hands of a wide-open MacDonald in the end zone. Clarot was brought in for a 28-yard field goal attempt with eight seconds to go in the half but his kick missed the mark and the Rams came away empty handed once again.
The teams went into the break with the Rebels up 19-5.
The third quarter was scoreless with neither offense able to venture past the opposition’s 45-yard line, the Rams defense held Campbell in check until the first play of the fourth quarter when he snuck through the secondary and caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Scott Borden, Campbell’s third major of the day gave the Rebels a 26-5 lead to start the final frame.
The rest of the fourth quarter was much the same as the third, with neither team able to muster much offense and for the most part the game was played between the 40’s.
Kyle Clarke rounded out the scoring when he put a 44-yard kick through the uprights with five minutes to go and Rebels fans went home happy with a 29-5 victory.
Colby Peters completed 17 of 32 pass attempts for 138 yards and an interception in two and a half quarters of play, his favorite targets were Ryan MacDonald, who had 7 receptions for 80 yards, and Nick Agnoletto with 5 catches for 31 yards.
Rams receivers found themselves open on several occasions but both quarterbacks had trouble getting the ball to them, the number of missed opportunities didn’t go un-noticed by Head Coach Khari Joseph “our passing game needs to be better, our quarterbacks need to be more accurate and our receivers need to run better routes” he said
If the Rams were to have a shot it was through the air because the Rebels defensive front wasn’t giving them much running room, without Nathan Lund to carry some of the load Conference rushing leader Joe Carter was held to just 19 yards on 9 carries.
Leading the way defensively for the Rams was Keiran Benedito with 3 tackles, 2 batted balls and a forced fumble, defensive lineman Kyle Sagmoen was in on 6 tackles and Isaiah Stewart 5.
Defensive Back Jordan Lund was the Rams best player on the day, the former Centennial Centaurs star finished with 117 return yards and was stellar in pass coverage up against Rebels top receiver D’Saun Greenway.
He may have been justified to do so but Joseph was not about to blame the loss on his short bench “there are no excuses, we had good football players out there playing hard and they generated some good scoring chances, we just didn’t capitalize on them,” he said “we just need to be better as a team, not only in games but in practice,” he added.
The Rams record fell to 1-3 while the Rebels improved to 3-1, Langley will now prepare for this Saturday’s road trip to Kamloops, where they will take on the 1-3 Broncos. Kick-off is 6:00 PM at Hillside Stadium, the game can be watched live online at www.bcfctv.com