Rams fall at home in the first round to end the season
Published 11:44 pm Friday, November 10, 2023
The Valley Rams stalled in the fourth quarter on Friday night as the team fell at home to B.C. Rain 34-22 to end the season.
The Red Raiders could do no wrong on the ground against Valley’s defense. Bryce Dowdlan finished with four rushing touchdowns as B.C. Rain brought the physicality to Ram Stadium.
“I think they were a little bit more physical than we were tonight,” Valley coach Adam Hunter said. “We didn’t get the stops when we needed it, and we didn’t capitalize when we needed it. My hats off to them, they played really hard tonight. Our kids fought for the most part, they were just a little bit more physical.”
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The Rams had not experienced playoff football in four years. It was a senior-led group, with Valley having multiple Division I prospects on defense.
“My hat’s off to these seniors,” Hunter said. “They’ve done a great job this year. Getting us back to seven wins, getting us back in the playoffs, hosting a playoff game. There was many time that this team could have laid down, and they made some big plays in big games. My hat goes off to these seniors for setting that up and playing hard and putting us in a good position to build off this.”
The first half was as back and forth as you can get in a first-round playoff game. Valley looked to be taking an early dominant start on offense, but Cam Dooley’s pass was intercepted at the opposing two-yard line by Jordan Vines.
Bryce Dowdlan set the Red Raiders up near the red zone after a 66-yard run. Dowdlan punched it in from two yards out, and he then converted the two-point conversion to give B.C. Rain an 8-0 lead with 4:47 left in the first quarter.
The Rams answered right back with a long drive of their own. Dooley finished off the 73-yard drive with a two-yard quarterback sneak. After the made extra point, the lead was cut to one with just under 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Red Raiders looked to have stolen the momentum back as the defense recovered a fumble from Dooley on Valley’s 36-yard line. However, Zan Woody snatched the momentum back as he intercepted Amari Yelding’s pass and returned it 51 yards to set the Rams up in the red zone. One play later, Dooley lobbed it to Brandon Thomas for a 19-yard touchdown. Valley faked the extra point, and Hezekyah Avery converted the two-point conversion to give the Rams a 15-8 lead with 1:05 left in the second quarter.
B.C. Rain fought back early in the third quarter as Dowdlan found the end zone for the second time on an eight-yard rush that capped off a 71-yard drive. After the failed two-point conversion, Valley still led 15-14 with 7:40 left in the third quarter.
The Rams roared back on the ensuing drive as Dooley connected with Thomas on a 76-yard touchdown pass. After the extra point, Valley took a 22-14 lead with 6:49 left in the third quarter.
Dowdlan willed the Red Raiders back into the game as he scored again on a five-yard rush. B.C. Rain converted the two-point conversion to tie it at 22 with 3:11 left in the third quarter.
Neither offense could get it going until midway through the final quarter. From that point on, the Red Raiders took over.
Dowdlan broke free on fourth down with a 49-yard rushing touchdown. The Red Raiders failed the two-point conversion but held a 28-22 lead with 5:45 left in the game.
An unintentional onside kick bounced off of a player on Valley’s frontline, and B.C. Rain recovered with a chance to seal the game. The Red Raiders did just that as Yelding found the end zone from two yards out to give B.C. Rain a commanding 34-22 lead with 1:43 left on the clock.
Dooley looked to the end zone one more time, but Jordan Vines stepped up and intercepted Dooley’s pass to put the game away.
Despite the loss, Hunter believes that this season will act as a foundation for what the program could be moving forward. The Rams finished with a 7-4 record on the season.
“I think you’ve got to take it and learn,” Hunter said. “We’ve got some young guys on this team. We have got to learn how to prepare for the playoffs. It’s a different mentality once you get to this time of the season, so maybe we can take this and learn from it and build off of this.”