After veering off course in the first half, the V.I. Raiders righted the ship and scored a 35-34 comeback victory over the Langley Rams at Caledonia Park Saturday.
Despite a 31-7 deficit, the Raiders outscored the Rams 28-3 in the fourth quarter to up their regular season record to 2-1.
Doug Hocking, Raiders head coach, said the team had to change things up to earn the win.
“We came in defensively and we understood some things that they were doing and having successes and we had to make some adjustments defensively,” said Hocking after the game. “We had to be more aggressive and challenge their receivers. We started doing that in the second half and in doing that, their quarterback had to hold the ball … which gave our D-line time to get some pressure on him.”
Offensively, Hocking said, the team stuck to its game plan. The Raiders needed to run the football and they were having success late in the first half. The team went back to that in the second half to keep Langley “offset,” Hocking said.
In terms of the offensive line protecting quarterback Jake Laberge, Hocking said at times he was happy with their play and at times he wasn’t.
“Jake was under the gun a couple of times back there … when they brought five and six guys, we just needed to do a better job identifying who’s blitzing and picking them up.“
— Karl Yu (@KarlYuBulletin) August 19, 2018
Hocking was complimentary of Laberge and said his pivot was instrumental in the win.
“He’s the leader of this football team,” said Hocking. “I’m so proud of that kid. He steps up in clutch situations. He was calling those plays at the end. Those were coming right, straight from him. He was reading the game. He did a beautiful job of that and like I said, I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Laberge said the win was huge for the team.
“It shows us that we can compete with anyone, not matter the score, not matter what time of the game it is, we can come back and we can play with the best of them,” said Laberge. “It brings up morale and makes guys come closer together.”
— Karl Yu (@KarlYuBulletin) August 18, 2018
Laberge finished 21-for-30 passing for 334 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Larberge scored two rushing TDs. North Rainey had 12 catches for 138 yards and two TDs, Eli Nelms-Horton had a touchdown catch and Mike West had 111 receiving yards.
Rhett Willams gained 120 yards on 20 carries.
The defence was led by Cory Fletcher who made eight tackles, and Matthew Cox, who had four solo tackles and a fumble recovery. Connor Kyliuk had four tackles and a sack. Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty had an interception.
GAME ON … The Raiders will next travel to Victoria to take on the Westshore Rebels on Aug. 25. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.