posted at 3:05 pm Mon Jul 21st, 2008 by (WherezIt_Staff)
Sean O'Connor pieced together a 90 yard game winning drive Saturday night to lead the Vermont Ravens to a 22-19 victory.
The Ravens fell behind on just the third play of the game after Vermont Rampage fullback Jackson Bouchard stormed down the sideline for an 85 yard touchdown.
"We kept shooting ourselves in the foot early," said Vermont Ravens coach Mike Salmon.
The 7-0 deficit looked like a big bill for the Ravens after they failed to put any points on the board in the first half as their offense was blasted with false starts, bad blocking and poor execution.
"Most of the problems early were my fault. I threw some bad passes," said Ravens quarterback Sean O'Connor.
The Ravens had a touchdown called back in the first half, on a kick return by Clayton Torres there was a clip on the play.
Salmon's defense looked like a brick wall after the initial touchdown until Rampage quarterback Jake Helm found wide out Milton Erickson for a 40 yard catch with 30 seconds left in the half. Erickson fell on his back during the play but after a deflection the ball fell right into his lap.
With five seconds left in the half, the Rampage attempted a field goal but wound up with a touchdown on the play. The Rampage botched the snap but former Raven, Mike Pratt picked up the loose ball and found a wide open Jim Lain for a touchdown which ended the half putting the Ravens in a 13-0 hole.
"We need to come out more ready to play next game and that falls on my shoulders," said Salmon.
The Ravens stormed all the way back to take the lead 14-13 in the second half. The first was an impressive 68 yard drive, thanks to a 35 yard run by Marvin Jenkins and a 15 yard catch by Noah Lowry. The drive, which was the healthiest of the day up to that point, was eventually capped off on a 13 yard run by Malik Butler.
"It was all about calling the right plays," said O'Connor.
The second touchdown came with just over six minutes left in the quarter when O'Connor found a wide open Deane Calcagni for a 20 yard touchdown on a play action pass that fooled everyone in the stadium.
"When I saw the defense jump the line I knew I was going to be wide open for a touchdown," Calcagni said moments after the game.
The Ravens handed the Rampage the momentum after Noah Lowry fumbled a punt return in the end zone which was recovered for a touchdown, giving the Rampage a 19-14 lead.
The Rampage had a chance to close the door on the Ravens after putting together a drive that lasted over eight minutes and 70 yards, but after a blocked field goal, the Ravens took over on their own 14 with under four minutes to play.
O'Connor led the Ravens down the field in a Troy Aikman like performance when he rode the waves of Tom Estes and Marvin Jenkins. On a crucial forth and two O'Connor stumbled for a three yard gain to keep the Ravens hopes alive. An injured O'Connor was limping the whole drive in and out of the huddle but seemed to be in a zone. With 30 seconds left in the game O'Connor hit Jenkins over the middle for a game winning touchdown which led to a pile of Ravens jumping on top of him in the end zone.
"It feels so good. This is the first time I've ever had a game winning touchdown," said an out-of-breath Jenkins after the game. Jenkins quickly turned the spot light away from him and thanked O'Connor for giving him the opportunity to make the play.
The Ravens will look to continue their winning ways on August 2nd when they head to Swanzey, NH to square off against the Monadnock Marauders.
All 2008 Vermont Raven home games will be played at Spaulding High's Pendo Field in Barre. The first home game will be Sunday, August 24th with a 1pm kick-off vs. the Rampage.
By Shannon Sciria