The Gees won the 50th panda game, ending a four year losing streak.Photo: Parker Townes.
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U of O beats Carleton 38-27 in Panda Game to break the streak

On Sept. 29 at TD Place, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees finally managed to get the revenge they deserved, defeating the Carleton Ravens 38-27 in the 2018 Panda Game.

It was the 50th incarnation of the historic Panda Game, and with the win, the all-time series now stands at 33-17 for the Gee-Gees.

“It was a tough game, always hard when you play Carleton,” Gee-Gees head coach Jamie Barresi said. “I think our team outplayed them in the end, but it was far from perfect. A lot of communications mishaps.”

While the Gee-Gees finally got the win after losing the Panda Game four years in a row, the Ravens opened up the scoring on the first play of the game. It was a trick play, with Carleton quarterback Mike Arruda tossing  it to receiver Quinton Soares, who then fooled the defence by throwing the ball down the field to first-year receiver Dominic Walker for a 78-yard score.

The Gee-Gees would answer back two drives later following an interception by Rashad Spooner.

First-year Quarterback Sawyer Buettner would throw a three-yard touchdown pass to fourth year wide receiver Carter Matheson. It was Matheson’s first, but not last, of the game.

The Ravens would score first again in the second quarter.

After gaining 68 yards on five plays, Carleton would score on another six-yard pass from Arruda to Soares, making it a tight contest early on.

The lead would not last as the Gees tied the game following an 87-yard drive, finished off by a picturesque 40-yard touchdown pass from Buettner to OUA cover athlete Kalem Beaver.

The guys in Garnet and Grey would take the lead going into the second half thanks to a 32-yard field goal from the rookie Fair.

After a sloppy start to the second half, the Gees would score a touchdown on a six-play, 68-yard drive.

Buettner would complete the drive with a pass from the 37-yard line to Beaver in almost an exact repeat of the previous U of O touchdown. It was Beaver’s second of the game and third of the season overall.

With five minutes left in the third quarter, the U of Owould intercept a lob pass from Arruda at the goal line, preventing Carleton from scoring in arguably one of the game’s most important plays.

The Gee-Gees intercepted Arruda four times throughout the game, matching their previous outing versus York, giving them 12 in total for the season.

At this point, the Gee-Gees started to put up a commanding lead, going up by more than three touchdowns at one instance. Matheson would get his second major score of the game and the season.

This amped up the north side of the sold-out stadium where the Gee-Gees were seated, even as Carleton fans were exiting the game perhaps a bit prematurely.

“It was wild, it was rowdy, a really good atmosphere, and we fed off that vibe, and its feels really good to win against these guys,” Beaver said.  “You know we were amped up to play these guys from day one, and this win feels really satisfying.”

While the Gee-Gees would win in the end, Carleton did step up their effort in the fourth quarter to make things interesting.

Carleton would score a touchdown in the middle of the fourth, but failed on the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 38-20.

They would add another touchdown a couple minutes later to cut the U of O’s lead down to 38-27 off a touchdown from Ravens running back Nathan Carter.

It was all too little too late however, with Jamie Harry getting his second interception of the game in the dying seconds to seal the victory.

Following the game, Barresi  commented on his team’s defensive effort, after the Ravens’ offence got off to its fast start.

“I thought they responded the right way. They kept us in the game early on and gave us a chance to come back,” Barresi said.

The historic game was Buettner’s fourth straight win in U Sports competition, and arguably his best, finishing the game with 243 passing yards and five touchdown passes.

It was tougher on the other side of the ball, as Carleton’s  Arruda finished with 248 yards, one touchdown pass, and four interceptions.

With the win, the fifth-ranked Gee-Gees improve to 4-1, while the Ravens fall to 4-2.

Despite the huge victory, Barresi said there are obvious things to improve on for next week’s game against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

“We will need to work on certain things and do a couple video sessions,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough opponent, but I like our chances.”

Next up, the U of O takes on the U of T for their first road game since Week One on Oct. 4. The next home game will be at Gee-Gees Field on Oct. 13, where they will take on the number-one ranked University of Western Ontario Mustangs. Grab tickets to that game here.