The Ravens and Bears had not met on the football field since Royal Oak consolidated their two high schools in 2006. Berkley took the first game of the heated series Friday night, 42-29, thus bringing "The Curb" - the prestigious chunk of cement - to the west side of Woodward Avenue.
The Ravens end their first season under head coach Ryan Irish at 2-7. But Irish knows he has the team moving in the right direction – after the embarrassing lost to Groves two weeks ago.
“I give credit to the kids,” he said. “We’ve got some good kids we’ve just got to be more consistent in our play and our effort. We just kept coaching but there is not a magic answer. You just have to block. You just have to tackle.”
Though Berkley came out on top, the Ravens showed poise and were in control, though not totally, through the first half and stretching into the fourth quarter.
“To continue to grow as a program, when you got a lead there’s blood in the water and you’ve got to go get that. You’ve got to step on their neck,” Irish said.
Overall, Berkley rushed for 283 yards while Royal Oak gathered 196. Senior Justin Unger was the Raven workhorse with 11 carries for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Raven quarterback Jacob Gostiaux was 6-13 for 84 yards connecting on one touchdown pass to Evan Fall, but he also gave up one interception.
The Ravens got on the scoreboard first after stopping Berkley. Unger took the handoff from the second play from scrimmage and rambled 71-yards for the touchdown. The PAT was missed and the Ravens were up 6-0 with 9:29 left in the first quarter. Later in the quarter, Berkley drove to the Royal Oak 40 but the drive stalled. A fake punt turned into a 24-yard scamper by Alec Sanom giving the Bears a first down at the Raven 16. Five plays later Sanom took it in to score on a fourth and goal at the two-yard line. The PAT was good and the Bears were up 7-6. They upped their lead to 14-6 when the Bears blocked a Raven punt and recovered at the eight-yard line. Eric Hudson took it in to score and the Bears hit the PAT with 10:45 left in the second quarter.
The Ravens chipped away at the Bears lead later when Berkley punter Nick Borden-Smith mishandled a snap and was tackled in his own end zone for a safety, 14-8. The Ravens took over at the Bears 45 after the kick off and took two plays to score when quarterback Gostiaux took it in from the one-yard line. The PAT gave the Ravens a 15-14 lead with 1:31 left in the half. The Ravens stopped the Bears at the Royal Oak 25-yard line where the half ended.
In the third quarter, the Ravens marched 63-yards down the field in only seven plays taking four minutes off the clock to extend their lead to 22-14 when Gostiaux found Fall in the end zone with a TD pass.
Berkley took the kick off 90 yards to the Royal Oak five-yard line where they scored four plays later to cut the lead to 22-20 in the beginning of the fourth quarter.
But Justin Unger pushed the lead back to 29-20 when he capped off a four-play 75-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown run.
But that was the end of Raven scoring. Berkley put together a six-play, 60-yard drive that brought them within one, at 29-28. Then after stopping the Ravens again, the Bears marched down the field 47-yards in eight plays to take the lead, 36-29, when Sanom took it in from one yard out and then ran in the two-point conversion.
Royal Oak had the ball after the kickoff at their own 25 when on the first play from scrimmage, Unger mishandled a handoff that went off his hip and then his foot toward his own end zone where the Bears recovered and scored but missed the two-point conversion to go up 42-29.
Irish presented the 30-pound "Curb" to Bears' coach Jeff Burnside in a ceremony at the end of the matchup, which was also dubbed the "Fight Against Childhood Cancer." Players from both teams raised money for Children’s Miracle Network at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.