By Patrick Cochran
It was a long afternoon for the Rams in the scorching 103 degree heat. Playing cross-bay rival Laney College at home in weather more attuned to Phoenix than typically cool San Francisco, the Rams struggled to get going on offense and ended up losing their season opener 17-14.
The Rams started the game strong and took an early lead midway through the 1st quarter when running back DeShawn Collins dived his way into the end zone on a two-yard run. The offense only had to drive seven yards for the touchdown because the defense forced a fumble and gave the offense prime field position.
In the 2nd quarter Laney tied the game up when their running back Ahmari Davis burned through the Rams defense for a 55 yard touchdown.
Seconds before the half ended the Rams regained the lead after a masterful 9 play, 59 yard that was capped off by a one-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Zach Masoli. Masoli got the snap and dove through the gap his offensive line created for the score. The Rams made key plays on the drive, including runs of a 9 and 11 yards by running back Isaiah Floyd and a beautiful pass by Masoli to wide receiver Kevin Shaa for a gain of 24 yards.
The 2nd half was a rough one for the Rams. The offense had the ball six times and ended punting on five occasions and threw an interception on their final drive of the game. Inability to execute the offense, especially in the passing game, along with penalties decimated the Rams.
Laney had more success on offense in the 2nd half. They tied it up in the middle of the third quarter on a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Ve’e to receiver Ronald Thomas and took the lead on a 23 yard field goal later in the quarter.
Neither team scored in 4th quarter and the extreme heat began to take a toll with numerous stoppages in play for injuries, some of which appeared to be heat related cramps.
“The heat threw us off a little bit. We knew it was going to be hot and yesterday was hot so we knew it was coming,” wide receiver Kevin Fox Jr. said.
After the game head coach Jimmy Collins seemed to be taking the loss in stride.
“First games are always tough,” Collins said. “We just didn’t but the ball in the end zone enough, we missed some key opportunities. I thought our defense played very hard. It was one of those games where two really good teams battled for a long time and one team made more plays than the other and we were on the short end.”
Despite losing, the Rams still had some very impressive performances on both sides of the ball. On offense running back Isaiah Floyd had a very effective afternoon rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown. On defense there were many standout efforts including star safety Joey Banks who a total of 17 tackles and a forced fumble and defensive tackle PJ Johnson whose sack/forced fumble in the 1st quarter allowed the Rams to score a touchdown on the subsequent drive.
Collins and his players were on the same page on what they needed to work on this week before their game against College of Siskiyous.
“We have to work on getting the ball in the endzone,” Collins said. “We are going to work hard on executing a little better and making plays.”
“We have to stay consistent. We had a lot of good drives but undisciplined penalties and little stuff killed our whole momentum,” Isaiah Floyd said.
Although a loss to start the season is certainly not what the Rams hoped the season is long and they have plenty of time to fix their problems.
“We got to keep fighting,” Floyd said. “We have to capitalize on offense. Defense was making plays for us but those guys get tired they can’t stay on the field forever, so offense has got to make plays.
Collins knows that it won’t be easy but it is certainly doable.
“Anytime you got to right the ship it’s tough but I think we can do it,” Collins said.