Ottawa, ON – Every so often, there are matchups in sports that feel like the result is inevitable.
With the York Lions in town to face the Carleton Ravens, it almost felt like (barring a surprise) you could predict the result upfront. Despite their 1-1 record, the Lions entered the afternoon with just nine total points on the season, having picked up their win thanks to the McMaster Marauders needing to forfeit their 39-1 win over York in Week 2.
In the end, the scoreline reading 45-14 for Carleton might have felt like a given, but what took place across 53 minutes of football at TAAG Park on Saturday showed how this Carleton team can compete on all three sides of the football field, and perhaps that’s actually the more important result.
Surprisingly it was the York Lions that drew first blood on the afternoon. After a missed York field goal gave the Lions a single to make it 1-0, Brandon Forcier had one of his two missed field goals in the quarter (although one got called back on a penalty).
Fourth-year Lions receiver Alfred Olay made him pay as he got through the entire Carleton defence and took it 109 yards for a touchdown to give the Lions the 7-0 lead with 3:40 to go in the first quarter.
After a tough loss to Toronto last week, it was a tough start for the Ravens, but they focused on remaining calm.
“We take it play by play; we’re just trying to win every play, so we’re not worried about what the score is.” Coach Corey Grant said.
Just two minutes later, after getting stopped at their 49, Vincent Plouffe’s punt was severely fumbled by Lion’s receiver Gabriel Appiah-Kubi all the way back into the York enzone, where Shaiheem Charles-Brown scooped it up for the Carleton touchdown to make it 7-7 after the first quarter of play.
Things held relatively smoothly in the second quarter, with the only points coming from Tanner DeJong finding Kaseem Ferdinand for his third touchdown of the season to make it 14-7.
For the fifth-year DeJong, it was another comfortable performance behind centre for Carleton as he picked up 265 yards on 14-25 along with a pair of touchdown passes.
They had kept it close, but with two minutes to go in the second quarter, everything caved in for the Lions.
It started with a Denny Ferdinand punt return that he took 57-yards in for a touchdown to make it 21-7 Carleton with 1:52 to go. Both Ferdinand brothers taking in touchdowns marked the first time in Carleton Ravens that two brothers on the Ravens got touchdowns in the same game.
“We both love playing for the Ravens,” Kaseem Ferdinand said. “We love coach CG, we love all the offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators we have here.”
Just two plays into the next York drive, Noah Craney threw a pick-six into the hands of Carleton defensive back Eljames Aiguomudu who took it 36 yards for the touchdown and a 28-7 Carleton lead with 1:16 to go.
Finally, on the next drive, Craney saw his pass get picked off again, this time by first-year Carleton defensive back Louis Levaud before Tanner DeJong found Frederick Hachey with the 75-yard pass for Hachey’s first touchdown as a Raven. Just like that, a 7 point game became a 28 point game, and that understanding was clear on the face of every Lion heading back to the locker room at halftime.
It was a miserable afternoon for Lions quarterback Noah Craney who went just 10 for 22 for 85 yards, tossed two interceptions and was sacked twice.
Into the second half, the 34-degree Ottawa heat clearly started to have an impact, and the pace of the afternoon slowed down dramatically. In the middle of the third, after Matthew Morin fumbled the ball at the York 37, a pair of penalties got the Lions to the Carleton 37 before Noah Craney eased the Lions forward and found Isaiah Edwards for the four-yard completed to cut the lead to 35-14 after three.
An early Brandon Forcier field goal and a blocked punt that Ben Huckabone-Lyl returned for a touchdown pushed it up to 45-14 before play was halted at the 8:25 mark of the fourth for a York player dealing with what was believed to be a bout of heatstroke.
After 20 minutes of medical delay for the on-site ambulance to escort the player out of TAAG Park, the Lions and Ravens collectively decided to call the afternoon at that point.
“That’s not how you want it to end, you want everybody to get out of the game healthy, but that’s part of the game of football,” coach Grant said.
“Talked to the other coach, and we decided for the safety of our student-athletes that for where the game was and what we were doing, we thought it be best to call the game.”
With the win, the Ravens move on to Richardson Stadium next week for a matchup with the Queen’s Gaels, who throttled them 45-0 in the regular season last year before kicking them out of the Yates Cup playoffs with a 41-14 quarterfinal victory. The Lions head back to York for a meeting with the Laurier Golden Hawks, who defeated Toronto 25-20 to move to 1-1 themselves.
Was Carleton’s win over York the cleanest? No.
The Lion’s first touchdown was thanks to a missed field goal that Alfred Olay ran back literally the entire length of the field. At the same time, though, with a punt return touchdown, two passing touchdowns, two fumble recovery touchdowns, and a pick-six return touchdown, the Ravens showed at least in part that they have the ability to create offence from all three aspects of the field.
As the nights (hopefully) get colder and the games get more challenging, that’s ultimately what will matter.