Photo by Valerie Wutti
Kingston, Ont. – The Carleton Ravens 2021 season football season has come to an end with a 41-14 loss against the Gaels in the quarterfinals in the OUA East semi-final. The team suited up on a sunny but brisk Saturday afternoon looking to rebound from their previous 45-0 loss against them. Gaels took an early lead that would challenge the Ravens tenacity, but they quickly experienced mental mistakes that would quickly define the game.
The Gaels came out of the gate fierce as they marched down the field and right back, Konner Burtenshaw (Amherstview, Ont.) would open the scoring for the game with a touchdown and Nick Liberatore (Dartmouth, N.S.) would secure the kick to advance the Gaels to 7-0 lead. Ravens defensive lineman, Nathan Clark (Kingsley, N.B.) attempted to bring the teams energy up by sacking Gaels quarterback James Keenan (Ottawa, Ont) but it would not last long as the long trickle of mistakes by the Ravens team would just be getting started. Jonathan Edouard (Orlando, FL) stepped out of bounds on a missed field goal return which would cost the Ravens an extra point now trailing by 8. Gaels build off of this mistake and running back Anthony Soles (Pointe Claire, Que.) would get the team’s second touchdown to close off the first quarter.
Ravens quarterback, Reid Vankoughnett (Winnipeg, Man.) opened the second quarter with a 29-yard completion to receiver Keaton Bruggeling (St. Catherines, Ont.). As the Ravens looked to capitalize from the previous completion, Vankoughnett would through an interception which would later lead to a Rasheed Tucker (Ajax, Ont.) touchdown spreading the Gaels’ lead to 22-0. Ravens would fall into trouble again after punter, Vincent Plouffe (Gatineau, Que.) fumbled the snap which would be recovered by Gaels defense. Tucker was efficient on offense throughout the quarter, scoring his second touchdown at 9:30 to up Gaels to an impressive 29-0.
“It was just like the wheels had fallen off… we don’t know why or how it even happened,” explained head coach Steve Sumarah when asked about the game.
Though the Ravens were in deep, the team was persistent in driving up the middle of the field. Vankoughnett would connect with receiver Khalik Johnson (Surrey, B.C.) on a 41-yard completion to put the team in a scoring position. They would make no mistake and receiver Glodin Mulali (Moncton, N.B.) would score the Ravens’ first touchdown of the game on a 19-yard pass. Rookie kicker, Brandon Forcier (L’Ange Gardien, Que.) would secure the field goal. As it may have seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel, Ravens were still in deep as Tucker scored his third touchdown of the game to best the Ravens 36-7 before half.
Similar to the second quarter, Ravens come in with heat as defensive lineman, Trey O’Brien (Ottawa, Ont.) recovers a fumble early in the third. The team struggled with completions for the rest of the quarter as Gaels had the wind under their feet and were persistent on both sides of the ball. Vankoughnett was sacked twice by the Gaels’ defence resulting in the team giving up a safety.
The fourth quarter was quiet, with Ravens still struggling with incompletions and penalties. Liberatore would put up a 16-yard field goal against the Ravens to extend their lead. Late in the fourth, Ravens rookie quarterback, Tristan Lefebvre (Calgary, Alta.) would make his return for the Ravens, throwing a 51-yard completion to Bruggeling to put the Ravens in a scoring position. Fifth-year running back Mitch Raper (Oshawa, Ont.) would score his final touchdown of his Ravens career off of a 3-yard rush from a hand-off. Unfortunately for the Ravens it was too late as the Gaels would run down the clock.
Head coach Steve Sumarah closes off his 9th year as head coach for the team by describing this season as challenging. He continues by explaining “It’s been one of the more challenging seasons I’ve had coaching. Between handling a pandemic and injuries, it was very much a season I’ll chalk up to being different than any other.”
The team goes into off-season training while Gaels advance to the OUA East final against the Gee-Gees. The Western Mustangs and Guelph Gryphons will meet in the west final with all eyes on the Yates cup.