Sports

Revival a success; men’s football continues victory streak

Photos by Marta Kierkus & Marc Jan

In 1963, the Panda Bowl game had a different atmosphere than it did this year.

On Oct. 17, 1963, Fulcrum sports editor Ray Jones wrote, “Dirty frogs was one of the many accusations hurled at U of O players and fans by Carleton.” The Quebec flag was also set on fire in the middle of the field at half time. The Panda Bowl game always boasted a rivalry between both schools, but lately the tenseness of the rivalry has decreased.

The Panda Bowl’s return was nothing short of exciting. The stands were filled, since the event sold out the 4,000-seat capacity by Friday at noon, with more than 800 standing tickets sold in surplus. The game was preceded by a reunion of alumni players from both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa’s football teams, who led the game with an honorary kick-off. The air was full of cheers from both Gee-Gees and Ravens fans.

GeesPanda

Both teams warmed up on the field and many alumni from previous football teams caught up over drinks and pizza. A lot has changed since 1963, however many traditions have remained.

The Gee-Gees came out of the gates with lingering nerves, but fourth-year human kinetics student Brendan Gillanders stepped up as captain and led his team with confidence. Four minutes into the game, Gillanders scored the first touchdown alongside a successful kick by third-year social sciences student Lewis Ward, marking the score 7–0. Right before the end of the first quarter, fourth-year criminology student Simon Le Marquand caught an 18-yard catch from fifth-year education student Aaron Colbon.

The first quarter was riddled with nervousness from both sides—a mix of excitement for the game and the weight of the rivalry. Quarterback and fifth-year education student Aaron Colbon was still recovering from a thumb injury, which may have contributed to the fumbles in the first quarter.

The Gees went on to score two touchdowns and recovered an on-side kick, ending the first quarter with a solid 14–0 score. This quickly gave them the confidence they needed to push forward.

The intermission between the first two quarters was equally filled with excitement and the football players were not the only ones being tackled. The event was well equipped with security to ensure that incidents from the past would not follow the Panda Bowl’s renewal.  The classic tradition of streaking returned and took place right before the second quarter, and more than four security guards tackled the man as he neared the end of the field. The fans enjoyed the excitement and cheered loudly for the streaker.

Continuing into the second quarter, the score was 14–3 with a completed field goal by Carleton student Andrew Banerjee.  The pace quickly changed when the Gee-Gees missed a field goal.

During the second quarter, the Ravens showed why they were a force to be reckoned with. Despite  having slow forward plays, their defensive returns and kick returns were unparalleled.

“You have to give credit to Carleton, they came out strong,” said Gees’ receiver and second-year social science student Andrew Mullings.

The Ravens averaged punt-returns of more than 50 yards, and netted a 129-yard touchdown on a failed field goal attempt return, which led to their only touchdown of the game.  Carleton’s Tunde Adeleke jumped on the opportunity and bolted for 129 yards to the Gees end zone for a touchdown, closing the gap to 14–10. Only two other Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) players have accomplished the record for the longest missed field goal return and now Adeleke will be added to the record book.

The halftime show was a U of O signature with free pizzas and a little bit of fun and games on the field. Bathroom lines were long and the beer gardens were full, indicating the success of the event. Gees’ head coach Jamie Barresi was impressed with the fans’ participation and enthusiasm.

“It was a revival of the game and I was excited about this opportunity,” he said.  “My experience with the game was not a great venue and a lot of sloppiness in the stands. But this was really good, they [the fans] were actively involved; they were good fans and well behaved. A full stadium and playing at home with people who are supported has an impact on the game.”

It was after the halftime that the Gees realized they hadn’t quite won the game yet.

GroupGees

“We knew we were in a fight,” said Colbon.  “We really had to step up our game, and execute on offense.”

They did just that, taking 14 points to the Ravens’ none into the third quarter.  Colbon’s run-in touchdown and another by Le Marquand—with completed kicks by Ward—made up the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was laden with sloppy plays and many turnovers. A couple yards away from the end zone, quarterback Derek Wendel let his nerves get the best of him when he inexplicably turned around and tossed the football over his head.  The Ravens caught the up-in-the-air toss, but quickly fumbled the ball and returned the possession to the Gees.

Mullings was overjoyed when the Gee-Gees and coaching staff came together to hold the trophy.

“When you see the captain, the guys there, the coaches together, who’ve been here for four or five years holding that trophy, it feels good to see them finally get it.”

The Gees won the game with a final score of 35–10.