By Lucas Wilson, Westshore Rebels

The overall theme of the Westshore Rebels’ 2016-2016 off-season was “Rise Up”. After finishing 2-8 in 2015, the team made huge strides in the past eight months to prepare themselves to bring a winning football team to Victoria and the Westshore. Those countless hours of preparation were tested for the first time on Sunday afternoon at Westhills Stadium. Many BCFC pundits touted the Langley Rams as the early favourites to take the conference, and they came into Sunday’s game hungry to prove their reputation. With so many building story lines, the atmosphere was absolutely electric on the beautiful, summer afternoon at the stadium. The game did not disappoint. After a thrilling, back-and-forth contest, the Rebels emerged victorious, with a final score of 42-34.

After both teams stumbled on their first offensive drives, the Rams would capitalize first by falling on a fumble in the end zone after a bad snap on a punt attempt. The Rebels would respond immediately. Jamel Lyles returned the ensuing kickoff close to midfield, and a huge run by Trey Campbell brought the Rebels into the redzone. Lyles finished what he started, and took an outside toss to the house to tie the game at seven with 5:22 left in the first quarter. The Rebels would threaten a couple more times in the half, but settled for field goals twice, and took a 13-7 lead into halftime.

The Rams began the second half by marching down the field and converting a field goal to make it 13-10.  On the ensuing kickoff, Jamel Lyles finally broke one. Lead by solid blocking, Lyles broke a tackle then burst down sideline to give the Rebels a 20-10 lead. The momentum continued for the Rebels, who would dominate the game for the next ten minutes. On the next Rams possession, Shaun Robinson made an impressive interception to set up the Rebels in good field position. After driving deep into Rams territory, Campbell managed to break the plane on an impressive second effort to put the Rebels up 27-10. The following Rams possession was almost identical. A Rebels interception set the offense up nicely, only this time quarterback Ashton Mackinnon connected with Kain Melchior from around twenty yards out to extend the lead to 24. The Rams would respond at the end of the third quarter with a touchdown of their own, which made it 34-17 heading into the fourth.

The Rebels offense continued to produce early in the fourth quarter. A huge run by Campbell set himself up for another touchdown run that restored the Rebels lead to 24. This is when things became interesting. The Rams responded with a quick touchdown, to make it 41-24.  At this point of the game, the Rebels found themselves in penalty trouble, as penalties were stalling their own drives, and extending the Rams’. Another Rams touchdown quickly decreased the lead to 10. The Rebels fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, which set up a Rams field goal and a one-score game. The Rams quickly forced the Rebels to punt, which gave them possession at midfield, with a chance to tie the game. The Rebels defense came up strong, and quickly forced a punting situation. A bad snap on the punt attempt set up the Rebels deep in Langley territory with just two minutes to play. After a couple of first downs by Campbell and Scott Borden, Rebels kicker Callum Duke had a chance to put the game away with a field goal. His kick went wide right, but a Langley offside kept the drive alive for the Rebels. The Rams stuffed the Rebels at the goal line, which gave Duke a shot at redemption. This time, it went wide left. The single point made it an eight point game, which was enough to give the Rams a solid shot at tying the game with just 55 seconds to play. After a couple of quick first downs, Stephen Legare hit Ryan MacDonald, who broke open a long completion down to the Rebels 10 yard line, with just one second left on the clock. On the final play, Legare’s pass fell incomplete, which caused Westhills Stadium to erupt. The Rams would call for a pass interference penalty, but to avail. The Rebels held on to win 42-24, and go to 1-0.

The Rebels coaching staff was relieved to get the win, but acknowledged that the team will have to tighten up in future games.  They will be hard at work this week to prepare for a home matchup against their rivals, the Vancouver Island Raiders.

Next game: (Home) July 30 vs VI (Nanaimo) Raiders, 7pm, Westhills Stadium Family Day

For information on tickets, game details and stats visit www.westshorerebels.ca

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