Record Breaking Panda Game Sees Ravens Defeat Gee-Gees in Double Overtime
By Liam Fox
The Carleton Ravens managed to outlast the Ottawa Gee-Gees 33-30 in double-overtime to capture the 2017 Panda Game. It was yet another fantastic finish in the annual clash between the universities. Saturday’s game saw a new record crowd of 24,420 to break last year’s modern-era Panda Game attendance record of 23,329.
Scores by both teams in the last two and a half minutes of regulation forced the game into overtime. The Gee-Gees and Ravens traded field goals in the first overtime frame, before Carleton won it with a Michael Arruda rushing touchdown.
“The offensive linemen, my teammates, they were the ones that helped give us that final push. I love them man, that’s all I have got to say,” said Arruda.
The Ravens program has now won four consecutive Panda Games.
It is an American-made game named after a bear found in central China, but nothing seems to pump up the Ottawa sports scene quite like the yearly Panda Game. Flocks of Ravens’ fanatics and herds of Gee-Gees’ faithful congregated at TD Place on Saturday, setting a new Panda Game crowd record in the process with 24,420 in attendance.
“It was loud man. Sometimes it was hard to communicate to my receivers…but at the end of the day we got it done,” said Arruda.
It was an emotional day for Gee-Gees football. Saturday’s game was the first for the team since the death of 24-year-old player Loic Kayembe, who passed away suddenly in his sleep last Sunday morning. A moment of silence was held before kickoff.
The Ravens jumped out to a 13-0 lead, thanks in part to a Quinton Soares punt-return touchdown, by the midway point of the second quarter. They seemed in total control until Carleton quarterback Arruda threw a costly interception in his own end. The Gee-Gees scored on the very next play, but trailed 16-7 at halftime.
Arruda, a first-year starter, threw two interceptions on the day. Fortunately though for Arruda and the Ravens, he shares the backfield with a running back like Nathan Carter. Two weeks after setting the all-time Ravens single game rushing yards record (274 yards), Carter helped Carleton dominate on the ground. By game’s end, Carter had racked up over 250 yards rushing.
Ottawa erased the Carleton lead entirely in the third quarter with two touchdown passes from quarterback Alex Lavric, giving them a five-point lead heading into the fourth. With time ticking away in the final frame, Ravens receiver Phil Iloki made an incredible one-handed 75-yard touchdown catch to put Carleton back on top. Just over a minute later, a Carleton special teams gaffe set up the Gee-Gee’s tying field goal.
“When I first got here people said to me, ‘you never know what will happen at Panda’. Well here we go again,” said Ravens’ coach Steve Sumarah.
An Arruda touchdown later, and the Ravens were Panda Game champions once again.
Carleton came into the game with a record of 1-3, a disappointing start to the season for them to say the least, but get back in the win column with their overtime victory. Following their Panda Game defeat, the Gee-Gees fall to 4-2 on the year, but remain very much in the thick of the OUA playoff race.
“Pedro the Panda”, the affectionately named trophy that is handed to the winning team of the Panda Game, will spend another year in the Carleton Rave