• By: OLM Staff

The Drought is Over: Gee-Gees Defeat Ravens in 50th Panda Game

After four consecutive years of frustration on Panda Game Saturday, the University of Ottawa was finally able to come out on top in Canadian university football’s foremost rivalry. The Gee-Gees defeated the Ravens 38-27 in front of a sellout crowd at TD Place.

Ottawa quarterback Sawyer Buettner threw five touchdown passes, including three in the second half. It was a courageous performance from Buettner, who suffered a devastating hit to his chest in the first half. He was visibly in pain and had to be cleared by the Gee-Gees’ medical team, but did not miss a play.

“I told the guys I wasn’t coming out of this one. No way,” said Buettner.

Buettner’s favourite target at Panda was Kalem Beaver. The fourth-year receiver finished with 128 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Carter Matheson added two more receiving scores for Ottawa and Dawson Odei, the OUA’s second-leading rusher, put up 142 yards on the ground.

The Gee-Gees boast one of the province’s top defenses, allowing the second least points per game. Their secondary in particular has been special this season and lived up to the hype with their performance on Saturday.

Ottawa played fantastic in pass coverage all game, holding Carleton quarterback Michael Arruda to a 55% completion percentage and forcing him into four interceptions. Two of those interceptions came courtesy of CFL prospect Jamie Harry, including one to clinch the victory in the final minutes. Coming into the week, Arruda had thrown only two interceptions on the season.

The Ravens jumped out to a 7-0 lead with a trick play on the first play of the game. Arruda threw a lateral pass to slotback Quinton Soares behind the line of scrimmage. Soares set his feet and unleashed a pass downfield to Dominic Walker for a 78-yard touchdown.

From there, Ottawa went on a 38-7 run in response. The Gee-Gee lead was only three at halftime but Ottawa scored the first 21 points of the second half to pull away.

Gee-Gees’ head coach Jamie Barresi compared the game to a 15-round fight. Both teams were able to get their shots in early but it came down to who was more resilient down the stretch.

“We knew we were going to have a tough battle,” said Barresi.

Carleton feature back Nathan Carter was the catalyst for the Raven offense. Carter totaled 157 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. Both of his scores came in the final 8 minutes of the game as Carleton attempted a furious comeback, which ultimately fell short.

In his last Panda Game with the Ravens, Carleton’s fifth-year defensive end Kene Onyeka finished with two sacks. The 2018 CFL draftee is set to join the Redblacks next season.

The result of the matchup figures to be key in the OUA playoff standings. Both teams were nationally ranked heading into the game (Carleton 5th and Ottawa 9th) and are in the midst of a battle for playoff positioning. The 4-1 Gee-Gees are now second place in the OUA and will hold the potential tiebreaker over the 4-2 Ravens.

It will be the first time since 2013 that Pedro the Panda (the Panda Game trophy) will reside at the University of Ottawa. For Gee-Gees players, fans and alumni alike, it was a long time coming.