Vermont Ravens 12th season
New England Football League 25th season
Semi-Finals - Maritime Conference
Oct. 13th, 2018
Commissioners Field – Dover, NH
Vermont Ravens - 22
Seacoast Warhawks – 24
When the Vermont Ravens record stood at 0-4 after a second loss to the Southern Vermont Storm, this time at home back on August 11, the season looked to be over for all intents and purposes. But, to no surprise to anyone that knows this group the team started to improve. Some early injuries to some key players were healing up and they were returning to action. Some re-alignments and adjustments were made to utilize our personnel to the best of their ability, and some pride was at stake to push themselves to improve. And improve they did playing better, more disciplined football.
With all those positive things happening for the team no one really expected to get to the point of coming within one foot of defeating the number 1 seed 7-0 Seacoast Warhawks in the semi-finals of the NEFL play-offs. But they did just that with a spirited effort against the conferences premiere team all season long.
The game started out slow with neither team able to sustain much of anything offensively. The field was soaked as it was sprinkling during the game early on after raining hard the previous night in Dover. It was a scoreless first quarter. A big play in the quarter for the Ravens was when free safety #23 Adam Gowans stripped the ball from a Warhawk runner and WR/DB #31 Jeric Tyler recovered it.
As play moved into the second quarter the rain subsided and the offensive juggernaut that was the Warhawks during the regular season started to move the ball consistently led by their tall, fast, athletic quarterback #4 Junior Brown. He directed the team on a long drive which featured him scrambling for first downs and long gains. Always dangerous the elusive Brown scrambled left side and made it down to the 6-yard line before being tackled. From there on the next play Brown found Warhawk running back #15 Marcus Villafane in the back left-hand corner of the end zone for a touchdown and the ice was broken. Brown next on the two-point conversion attempt completed a pass to #7 Javier Colon and the score was 8-0 Warhawks with 10 minutes left in the half.
Back and forth the teams went, until Raven quarterback #14 Clayton Torres orchestrated a nice drive with a pass to WR/Corner #31 Jeric Tyler being the big play down the left-sideline that would set-up a nice pitch and catch from 9 yards out between Torres and WR/TB #5 Austin Mayo for the Ravens first score. Tyler again would be Torres target on the two-point conversion attempt as he caught the slant in the end zone and the score was tied 8-8 at the 1:43 mark second quarter.
On the Warhawks next drive defensive back #1 Matthew Gomes of the Ravens had a drive ending interception on the Ravens own 1-yard line and he returned it up the sideline for 79 yards to keep the score 8-8 at the half.
Good defense was the norm again in the third as both teams struggled to mount any kind of momentum. At the 4:33 mark of the third quarter Brown found receiver #24 Stephane Bristol alone in the front right-hand corner of the end zone for 6. Villafane ran right up the gut for the two-point conversion and the score was 16-8 Warhawks.
Seacoast would tack on an insurance touchdown when Brown completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Colon and the two-point conversion, was good as Brown found receiver #3 Kobe Washington in the end zone. Washington laid out for the catch falling while making what turned out to be the game winner.
Raven 12-year veteran quarterback Torres put the team on his back and led them down the field on a series later in the quarter. With time running down and after having scrambled both right and left gaining yards he dropped back to pass finding an open receiver in running back #3 Akeem Williams. Williams, running a seam route caught the pass in stride and raced into the end zone from 10 yards out. On the two-point conversion Torres rolled right and seeing no one took off for the front corner of the end zone and won the race to cross the line just inside the pilon. Score 24-16 with 3:40 left in the fourth.
Vermont’s defense came up big stopping Seacoast on downs and Torres took over again. Hitting Tyler twice down the left side-line and getting down to the 1-yard line Torres kept it himself and scored untouched off the left side making the score 24-22. Going for the tie Torres dropped to pass to Mayo, but it was incomplete, and the two-point conversion for the tie was no good. 24-22 with 1:20 left.
OL/DL/K/P #58 Juju Ayida saw an open area in the Warhawks kick-off return formation and pooched the kick perfectly in-between everyone allowing a speeding Jeric Tyler to get to it before anyone else and make the recovery for the Ravens giving them a last chance.
Three plays and minimum gains later Ayida lined up on a 4th down and 10, with 38 seconds left, to kick what could be the game winning 40-yard field goal. Unfortunately, the kick was just pushed to the right as he hit it deep enough, but just off to the right. Coach Salmon stated after the game that it was a very tough kick for Ayida as the field was wet and the winds were gusting. “Juju is a great player and other than QB Torres no one is more valuable as he played the whole game on the offensive line and most of the game on the defensive line as well as had punting and kicking duties”. “To have the energy and strength at that point to make that kind of effort with that difficult a kick was just amazing.”
The Ravens finish 4-5 on the season in league play and 4-6 overall counting the crossover game against eventual Double A champs the Worcester Wildcats. The Raven organization would like to thank everyone with the team and their sponsors, and especially the fans who support and promote the team. We are officially recruiting for the 2019 season for players, coaches, sponsors and volunteers as it takes a lot to run the organization and more help is always needed.
#14 QB Clayton Torres had 2 touchdown passes, 1 touchdown run, and 1 two-point pass completion.
#31 WR/DB Jeric Tyler had 1 two-point conversion, 4 catches, and the kickoff recovery.
#5 WR/TB Austin Mayo had 1 touchdown catch.
#3 RB/DB Akeem Williams had 1 touchdown catch.
#24 FB/SS DeEric (Bud) O’Neil had 1 fumble recovery and 5 tackles while adding 40 yards rushing.
#1 DB Matthew Gomes had 1 interception and 4 tackles.
Vermont finishes the season 4-5 in league play and 4-6 overall with the crossover game.