Langley Rams began their defense of their Cullen Cup championship title with a 43-30 victory over Nanaimo’s VI Raiders on Saturday.
It drew 1,300 fans, one of the largest regular season home crowds in club history.
It was the first game of the season and it showed as neither club found the scoreboard in the first quarter.
That all changed in the second, courtesy of Jarryd Taylor, who fielded a punt at his own 36 and made a 74 yard-touchdown romp, making the score 7-0 Rams just a minute and 40 seconds into the second quarter.
Five plays later, Raiders quarterback Jake LaBerge hit Mike West with an 11-yard touchdown pass to even the score at 7-7 which became an 8-7 lead on the convert.
It would be the last time the Raiders would lead.
Quarterback Duncan Little launched a 75 yard-drive that was capped off with a 22 yard touchdown strike to Lord Tweedsmuir grad Khalik Johnson, giving the Rams a 14-8 lead.
After that, it was all Rams, who led the rest of the game.
Duncan Little completed 20 of 35 pass attempts for 342 yards three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Khalik Johnson led all receivers with seven catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns, and rookie Reid Jensen caught four passes for 69 yards, drawing praise from Rams head coach Howie Zaron, who described him as a “standout.”
“It was good to see a lot of our young guys perform well in their first game” said Zaron.
Running back Andrew Pocrnic finished the day with 16 carries for 97 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.
Defensive standouts for the Rams were Partap Sandhu with three tackles and three quarterback sacks, Cole Barron with four tackles and a sack, former Chilliwack Husker Keegan Vicklund with four tackles and an interception and Rams veteran defensive leaders Kyle Clarot and Isaiah Okoli had five tackles each.
Rams were assessed a total of 22 penalties for 225 yards and Zaron was not happy with that part of the game.
“It’s an emotional game but we need to, and we will, focus that emotion and energy in a disciplined fashion” he said
Club President Dana Matheson saw the Rams home opener as a win on and off the field “as a club we are extremely pleased with the support the Rams are getting from the community.”
“It is great to see that local sports fans are beginning to recognize junior football as a highly skilled and elite level of sport that offers a ton of value, a great community atmosphere and inexpensive entertainment for the whole family” Matheson added
Next, the Rams head to Kamloops on Saturday August 10th for a 6 p.m. kickoff versus the Broncos.
The game can be watched live online at www.bcfctv.com
Their next home appearance is Sunday night, August 18th, when they host the Chilliwack Huskers.
Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.
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