Photo by Valerie Wutti
OTTAWA – A lot can change in twelve days. When the Ravens walked off the field on October 16 the young squad had been handed their worst loss of 2021. Coming off a successful comeback and last-minute win against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, the Ravens ran into a roadblock from the red hot Queen’s Gaels. Now, almost two weeks later, the Gaels have finished their regular season 6-0, while the Ravens at 2-3 are still eyeing home-field advantage.
The landscape in the OUA East has changed quickly since the 16th. The University of Ottawa dropped an important home game to the Gaels last Thursday night bringing their record to 2-3, while the Varsity Blues dropped an unpleasant 48-0 decision to Guelph Gryphons. Despite the log jam of 2-3 records, the playoff picture couldn’t be any more clear for the Ravens. Win on Thursday and play at home on November 6.
Leading up to their first meeting, much was made of the defences, as the Gee-Gees and Ravens were both among the league’s early leaders. Fast-forward to week 7 and the Ravens defence, plagued by injuries has slipped, if only slightly, finding themselves midway through most statistical categories including being 7th in yards against per game and 8th in points against per game. For the Gee-Gees, the defence has remained impressive. Entering Thursday night they are third in yards against per game (309.4) but find themselves in 6th having averaged 21.0 points against per game. The Ravens have five defenders with double-digit tackles, being led by Louis Cavanagh who has 21 tackles including 13 solos.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Ravens have been forced to make adjustments, after starting quarterback Tanner De Jong suffered a season-ending leg injury. Carleton is last in the OUA in pass attempts with 118. Meanwhile, at the top of the table, the Gee-Gees lead with 179 attempts. With only 99 completions uOttawa finds themselves only 0.2% above Carleton at seventh in completion percentage. Gee-Gees QB Ben Maracle comes into the game leading the OUA in pass attempts with 166 and is third in yards at 1122. In his four games under centre, Ravens rookie Reid Vankoughnett (53) is still two attempts behind Tanner De Jong who had slung the ball for 34 completions and 3 TDs on 55 attempts prior to his injury.
When the air hasn’t been the option, both teams have found stability on the ground. The Gee-Gees have turned to J-P Cimankinda for 58 carries, 324 yards and 1 TD, while the Ravens have leaned on fifth-year back Nathan Carter 62 times for 318 yards and 2 TD.
With match 2-3 records remaining the most similar part of each teams record Thursday nights winner-take-all matchup has serious playoff implications.
The Ravens control their own destiny on Thursday, having the head-to-head victory against the Varsity Blues.
Ravens win/Gee-Gees Lose
Regardless of a UofT win or loss, a Ravens victory sees them finish 2nd and host the Varsity Blues. The Gee-Gees would face the Gaels in Kingston.
Ravens Lose/Gee-Gees Win and Varsity Blues Win
A Ravens loss would see the team finish 2-4. Having both the Varsity Blues and Gee-Gees win, the University of Toronto would hold the advantage over uOttawa, hosting them while the Ravens would travel to Queen’s.
Ravens Lose/Gee-Gees Win and Varsity Blues Lose
The last-minute victory over the Varsity Blues would play tie-breaker again if the Ravens and UofT both lose. Holding that important tie-breaker, the Ravens would finish third, and travel the short bus-ride to face uOttawa for a third time.