Ottawa, ON – Sometimes, there are those days when everything just seems to go right.
Two weeks ago, that wasn’t the case for the Carleton Ravens. In front of 24,000 fans at the annual Panda Game, everything seemed to go wrong as the Ravens got kicked up and down the field by the uOttawa Gee-Gees on their way to a 37-7 loss.
On Seniors Day at TAAG Park, though, the Ravens turned it around, laying a 36-18 beating on the Waterloo Warriors with contributions from all three phases of the field.
By all means, it wasn’t perfect, but with one regular season game left in the 2022 season, it might be just what the Ravens needed as the Yates Cup playoffs round into view.
In their first season, post-Tre Forde, the Waterloo Warriors have struggled, to put it kindly.
The Warriors handed the reigns of the offence to Forde’s 2021 backup, Nolan Kaban in 2022 and entering the afternoon at 1-5, with the only win of the year coming in a blowout win over the York Lions, the results just have not shown for the black and gold.
Both offences started slowly, with a field goal connecting for each side before Tanner DeJong found Frederick Hachey for a five-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-3 for Carleton.
Brandon Forcier added his second field goal of the afternoon to make it 13-3 for the Ravens after one quarter. All around the field, the confidence that was not there for most of the Panda Game seemed to be returning for Carleton.
“We had an amazing week of practice; everybody was super locked in, we had an unfortunate loss in the Panda Game, but everybody just re-dialled in,” Kaseem Ferdinand said.
After another Forcier field goal and a Waterloo safety, along with Warriors running back Niklas Sua punching in a touchdown of his own in the middle of the quarter, with a minute to go, Tanner DeJong hit Kaseem Ferdinand in the end zone to push the Ravens’ lead up to 25-11.
Ferdinand finished with 107 receiving yards on the game, his second-highest total on the year, along with connecting with DeJong for his fifth touchdown of the season.
“Tanner is the best quarterback in the league; when you have a quarterback like that, it makes it really easy to play,” Ferdinand said. “He’s always putting the ball in spots for me, and I’m super thankful to have Tanner.”
DeJong finished 21-38 for 284 yards, which pushed him to the top of the OUA leaderboard for yards and yards per game.
A last-second rush touchdown from Nolan Kaban that beat the clock sent the Ravens and Warriors into halftime with Carleton up 25-18.
The Raven offence slowed down in the second, but their defence and special teams stepped up.
After forcing a turnover on downs to open the quarter, the Ravens’ defence swarmed Nolan Kaban. They forced the Warriors into a pair of two-and-outs, punctuated in between by a Zendrew Audain interception, one of three picks that Kaban tossed on the afternoon.
Another Brandon Forcier field goal, along with another Waterloo safety, made it 30-18 Carleton heading into the fourth quarter, and in the fourth, the defensive shutdown continued.
After an early two-and-out for Waterloo and another Forcier field goal to make it five on the afternoon for him, Waterloo managed to get the ball all the way down to the Carleton three-yard line on second down.
An incomplete pass, though, led to a Shaiheem Charles-Brown sack on Nolan Kaban on third down, one of his two on the day.
With 6.5 sacks on the season, Charles-Brown leads the OUA, and Carleton head coach Corey Grant recognized his veteran’s impact.
“He brings a lot of energy to the team, he comes out, and he doesn’t even try. He does work hard every single day,” Grant said.
The following two Waterloo drives ended in back-to-back interceptions from Othman Brahm and Cole Hepburn as the Warriors unravelled on offence. Kaban ultimately finished 23-44 for 313 yards but with three interceptions on the afternoon.
Brandon Forcier added one last field goal late to finish with six on the afternoon to break the single-game Ravens record and the Ravens wrapped up the blowout win.
Is Waterloo a proper parameter of whether Carleton can hang with the best of the OUA? Not really; the Warriors, simply through the reality of OUA football, saw their star move on and are now in a rebuilding phase of their program.
Yet after an embarrassing loss in the 2022 Panda Game, even just a way to reset their course, Saturday was just about everything the Carleton Ravens could ask for.
“The season’s a journey,” Grant said. “Two weeks ago was one game; we took a week off, got better, saw what how had to get better at and then came out and performed this week.”
Cover Photo: Richard Coffey/49 Sports