That's the way Carleton head coach Steve Sumarah remembered a game that occurred on September 2, 2013. On that night the new era of Ravens football began with a game against the Mustangs at Western. Let's just say it didn't go well.
The final score? Western 71, Carleton 4.
Fast forward to Sunday night. Four years after that rather rude awakening, the Ravens got some payback against Western in incredibly dramatic fashion. They jumped out to a surprising 24-0 lead, watched it evaporate thanks to 31-consecutive Mustang points, but then rebounded with two late TDs in a 38-31 win.
"Our head are still in the clouds," Sumarah told 'In The Huddle' 48 hours after the win.
The Carleton template is there for all to see. Get school support, receive massive financial support from boosters, hire a top-notch head coach, have the budget to hire several part-time coaches, and most importantly, recruit well.
Easy to say, yet incredibly tough to do. That said, the Ravens have been able to accomplish exactly that in an amazingly short period of time. They've gone from doormats to serious contenders in remarkably quick fashion.
"The biggest thing is the maturity," replied Sumarah when asked what the biggest difference was between then and now. "That first game I thought some of our guys actually thought they were going to go out there and win. They were stunned at the level of play and it was a real eye opener."
On Sunday night, eyes were opened by Carleton's amazing start. With 5:28 left in the first half it was 24-0. Sumarah had been in games like this before and tried to keep the high-flying Ravens grounded.
"All I could think of is was what's gone wrong and what's gone right," explained the coach. "I kept reminding them it's not over."
It wasn't. The Mustangs took the lead with their incredible 31-point run. However, Carleton drew upon the maturity the coach alluded to. Nate Behar caught a touchdown pass, evening the score. The defence forced a two-and-out and after the punt took over on the Western 49-yard line. Five plays later Jesse Mills hit Wilson Birch for a 12-yard touchdown, giving the home side the lead for good.
"After the second score," reflected Sumarah, "one of our captains said it was like a burst of air in our chests."
The Mustangs didn't roll over though. They answered with a 15-play drive that included a third-and-17 conversion. The drive ended when the Ravens stopped Cedric Joseph a yard shy of a first down at the Carleton three-yard line.
Without taking last year's playoff win over Queen's for granted, it became the Ravens biggest win since the program's rebirth.
This leads to a new problem; keeping things in perspective.
"The biggest thing now is managing expectations," admitted Sumarah. "Alumni are booking Vanier Cup tickets and we're like, whoa! Looking at the next bit of our schedule I'm not as confident as others."
Laurier and the Panda Game against Ottawa would appear to be the toughest remaining games on the schedule, though one can ask Guelph if Windsor is capable of beating a Top-Ten team.
"The concern is now that we play well one week, drop off the next. Play well one week, drop off the next." said the coach. "We have to find out, are we a good team? If we are, how do we become a great team?"
After Sunday's result there is little doubt that the Ravens are more than capable of being a great team.
The O Zone:
Carleton's win over Western was surprising, but not totally shocking. On the other hand, Windsor beating Guelph was nothing shy of remarkable. In a game that feature four lead changes, Tarrence Crawford's TD run late in the third moved the Lancers ahead for good. Noah Akharoh's 54-yard touchdown, coming on his only catch of the day, gave the home team a two-possession lead. The Gryphons would score another major, recover an onside kick, then move the ball to the Windsor 23-yard line. Frank Renaud would then force a fumble, recovered by Jamal Hooker, giving the Lancers the upset. Crawford rushed for 122 yards, while Jalen Brady threw for 249 yards and a touchdown. Lekan Idowu gave Windsor its first lead with a 62-yard pick six. The Gryphons were able to move the ball, as James Roberts passed for 362 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Daniel Palmer-Salmon added 113 yards on the ground. The loss dropped Guelph, no worse than a co-favourite for the Yates Cup, to tenth in the CIS Top Ten rankings.
Most observers knew that Laurier's defence was going to be awesome, but few would have guessed the Hawks were capable of their impressive offensive outburst against York. Michael Faulds' crew dominated in a 74-3 demolition. Eric Guiltinan, Levondre Gordon and Osayi Iginuan all rushed for over 100 yards on a day where the Hawks had 575 net-rushing yards. Julien John threw only 16 passes, completing eight of them for 137 yards. Six different players had sacks for Laurier. The Lions couldn't get anything going, with Jesse Amankwaa limited to 25 yards on seven carries.
Kudos to the person that came up with the "Football Day in Hamilton" concept. Prior to the CFL game between the Ticats and Argos, the McMaster Marauders and Toronto Blues took to the field for a noon kickoff. Toronto's defence kept the Blues in the game, limiting the high-flying McMaster offence to just one touchdown and six Adam Preocanin field goals. The game's biggest play came in the third quarter. The Blues were about to kick a 35-yard field goal to cut the lead to 19-5, but Keldyn Ahlstedt blocked the kick, Ben McGarry picked it up and returned it 70 yards for a TD. Asher Hastings passed for 346 yards for the Marauders. McMaster will have to clean things up in the penalty department as they drew 17 flags for 189 yards. The Blues Rahul Madan was the game's top receiver with a dozen catches for 154 yards. The best player on the field may have been Varsity punter TJ Morton, who averaged 48.5 yards on eight kicks.
Ottawa beat up on Waterloo 65-1. Derek Wendel led the way, throwing for 385 yards and five TDs. Mitchell Baines was the leading target, hauling in six of those passes for 139 yards. If there was a bright spot for the young Warriors it was Dion Pellerin, who rushed for 105 yards.