Ravens playoff hopes hang by thread
Under the Friday night lights, Carleton faced a stiff test in their quest to get their season back on track, facing off against the Western Mustangs. Western, the top-ranked team in Ontario and the fourth-ranked team in the nation, gave the Ravens a lot more than they could handle in a runaway 51-14 victory.
The Ravens hoped to bring in momentum from their big win against the University of Ottawa (U of O), which Ravens head coach Steve Sumarah said would be necessary in order to have a hope of making the playoffs.
Western made quick work of the Ravens’ defence right out of the gates, torching them on their opening possession. It took just under three minutes for Mustangs quarterback Chris Merchant to move his team down the field 78 yards, capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by running back Cedric Joseph.
Carleton’s own offence started off struggling, allowing the Mustangs’ defence to shut them out in the first quarter. The first quarter would also see the Ravens give up a big 46-yard passing touchdown, bringing the score to 14-0 Western.
Much of the same for the Ravens happened in the second quarter, allowing Western to score another two touchdowns and a rouge point, ultimately bringing the score to 29-0 before the Ravens offence kicked into gear.
Michael Arruda, the Ravens quarterback, connected with wide receiver Kyle Van Wynsberghe to put up seven points for the Ravens with less than five minutes to halftime.
The Ravens’ defence continued to struggle throughout the rest of the game, allowing the Mustangs to kick a last-second field goal, which brought Carleton into the second half down 32-7.
The third quarter continued in Western’s favour; the Mustangs started the half looking to end any chance of a Carleton comeback. With an aggressive, hard-hitting defence and a fast paced and at times mesmerizing offence, the Mustangs were able to continue to put the hurt on the Ravens’ defence, closing out the quarter with another touchdown and field goal to bring the score up to 42-7.
Sumarah then elected to pull Arruda from the game for the second time this season.
The struggles continued for the defence in the fourth quarter as Western looked to put the nail in the Ravens’ coffin. Though able to keep the Mustangs out of the end zone, Carleton continued to allow Western to put points on the board in the form of field goals. Mustangs kicker Marc Liegghio added another three field goals to add to his overall total of five, bringing the score up to 52-7.
On Carleton’s final drive of the game, they were able to break through the Mustangs’ defence, who had already replaced their starters. Wide receiver Phil Iloki, known best for his heroics in the Panda Game, put Carleton up late in the game when he found himself in the end zone on the receiving end of a 12-yard pass from backup quarterback Tanner Dejong.
Discipline issues, which have plagued Carleton all season, reared its ugly head in this game as frustration from a bad game and a disappointing season began to set in. The Ravens gave away 169 yards of penalties, making this their most undisciplined game to date.
Despite the promises Sumarah made earlier in the season about addressing the issues moving forward, this continues to be a problem for Carleton and a detriment to the team’s success.
Despite the loss, Sumarah said he still has hope for the team as they have not yet been eliminated from playoff contention. He maintains that the team can only control their own actions and will be prepared for whatever comes, and hopes to move on from the loss quickly.
“There’s no sense of dwelling on it, we have to learn from it and we have to move on and do better next time,” he said.
The Ravens hope to get back into the win column and make a final push for the playoffs as they prepare to face the University of Toronto (U of T) Varsity Blues at MNP Park on Oct. 14.
Their final game of the season will be against the Guelph Gryphons on Oct. 21, also at MNP Park.
Photo by Meagan Casalino