The Carleton Ravens kicked off the 2022 season with a win, some firsts, and a record as they battled from behind in the second half to beat the McMaster Marauders 24-18 at TAAG Park.
Coach Corey Grant became the first Ravens head coach to win in his debut since Kim McCuaig in 1969. On defence, Shaheem Charles-Brown broke the Ravens single games record for sacks with four.
On offence, Ravens quarterback Tanner DeJong passed 3,000 yards and Mark Lee (3,001) for sixth all-time in Ravens passing yards.
The matchup was tight from the start with the Ravens kicking off the afternoon with a massive return by Denny Ferdinand, which generated a great starting field position. After Josh Ferguson was able to help the Ravens make gains, a deep punt from Vincent Plouffe would force the Mauraders deep. The great defensive field position would help set up a sack of Andraes Dueck forcing Mac to concede a safety.
The two teams would trade short drives the rest of the first quarter before McMaster’s Jacob Patten would return a wobbly punt 53-yards for the first major of the afternoon. Despite a strong defensive quarter, the Ravens found themselves down after 15 minutes 7-2.
After exchanging possessions early in the second quarter the Marauders would capitalize on a Ravens fumble and begin a possession in the red zone. The Ravens' defence would continue their strong play standing up the Marauders and forcing them to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Benjamin MacDonald for a 10-2 lead.
The Ravens would continue to build momentum holding the Marauders to a two-and-out allowing themselves to start a drive on the offensive half of the field. Working with no huddle the Ravens quickly worked their way into the red zone and veteran quarterback Tanner DeJong found his rhythm putting the Marauders under pressure. After finding Kaseem Ferdinand on the out, DeJong would go back to Ferdinand for the Ravens' first major of the season.
The Ravens would look to tie on the conversion but come up a finger-tip short as DeJong's pass sailed threw his receiver's hands. The Ravens would trail 10-8. Dueck would work one more key drive for the Ravens driving into the Ravens' red zone and setting up a 38-yard field goal to extend the lead to 5.
The Ravens' offence started the third quarter by putting a jolt of electricity into TAAG Park as DeJong would drive into the Marauders' red zone setting up a nice play-action pass to Josh Ferguson who scrambled his way to the 1-yard line setting up a Tristan Rinaldis keeper for the touchdown and 15-13 lead.
After a Ravens safety, MacDonald would hit his third field goal of the game to make it a one-point game. As the fourth quarter drove on, Kaseem Ferdinand would get the Ravens into McMaster territory with a great run after the catch. The Ravens would cap off a 9-play 75-yard drive with a Joshua Ferguson 7-yard run to put the Ravens up 24-16.
McMaster would force the Ravens to concede a safety with 1:04 to play, only to have Denny Ferdinand pick off Dueck with ten seconds left on the clock.
“It was a big win, anytime you can play a team that is as well prepared as McMaster is, it’s good for us, for our program and our guys.”
“It’s hard to win in this league, to come out and get a win – it doesn’t matter if it’s McMaster or anyone else in this league – it’s exciting. It’s good for the guys for all the hard work they’ve put in.”
On being back for another year…
“There’s no better feeling than what’s going through my body right now. Being back, being on that field, and what went through my body when the triple-zeroes hit the clock, there’s a lot of guys who were hurt last year, not just me and everyone worked so hard this off-season just to come back and get ready.”
On Kaseem Ferdinand…
“He’s incredibly special, there’s something different about the way he moves when he has the ball and when he’s in space. He’s fantastic and he’s only going to get so, so much better.
On Joshua Ferguson…
“He’s just a hard worker, every time he’s on the field he earns his yards. They’re not easy and he gets hit hard a lot but he’s a big body and he gives those hits out too.”