The 2017 edition of the Panda Game was a wildly entertaining event. Photo: Parker Townes.
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Fourth straight Panda loss brings Gees record to 4–2 on the season

On Sept. 30, the Gee-Gees men’s football team met the Carleton Ravens for this year’s edition of the highly-anticipated Panda Game. The Ravens had won the last three contests between the teams, but held a 1–3 regular season record coming into this game. The Gees, for their part, held a 4–1 record entering the game.

The game began on a sombre note, with a moment of silence for Gee-Gees defensive end Loïc Kayembe who passed away on Sept. 24.

With fifth-year starting QB Victor Twynstra still injured, first-year QB Alex Lavric got the start for the Gees.

The Gees kicked off first, with Carleton getting the ball to their own 30 before having to punt it back down to the Garnet and Grey. The Gees got it at their 45.

Carleton got their fans into the game right away, returning a Gees punt and running it 84 yards down field for the touchdown just under three minutes in, making the score 7–0 Carleton.

With just over three minutes left in the first quarter the Ravens had three consecutive first downs to bring the ball to the Gees’ 11-yard line. The Gees defense managed to keep them out of the endzone and the Ravens had to settle for a field-goal, setting the score at 10–0 Carleton.

The first quarter ended with Carleton holding a 72–24 advantage in offensive yards gained.

The Ravens came out strong in the second quarter with a field goal in the first three minutes. They capitalized on a Gees fumble to get the ball right back to the Gees’ 8-yard line.

A Carleton fumble kept the Gees from going down by an even bigger margin, but the Carleton errors didn’t end there. An intercepted pass at the Ravens’ 30 led to a Gees first-down. The Gees got their first touchdown off a beautiful 27-yard pass from Lavric, setting the score at 13–7 Carleton.

With less than three minutes in the half the Ravens got a 21-yard run that brought them to the Gees 17. The Ravens appeared to have another touchdown, but the pass was deemed incomplete. A Ravens field goal brought the score to 16-7 Carleton, which would hold until the half ended.

Carleton carried the play throughout the half, putting up a whopping 259 offensive yards to the Gees’ 91. The Gees only managed three complete passes for the entire half.

The third quarter couldn’t have started better for the Gees. A Carleton fumble gave the Gees a first-down on the 9-yard line. Lavric made the pass giving the Gees their second touchdown of the game with the score now at 16-14.

With just over two minutes left in the third quarter the Gees took their first lead of the game, with a 75-yard drive ending in a 49-yard pass to wide-receiver Kalem Beaver for his second touchdown of the game, and the Gees now at 21–16.

The Gees had a monster third quarter, led by Lavric. The rookie QB had 110 passing yards on 8 complete passes in the quarter.

The fourth quarter started with Carleton in control. With just over six minutes left they got the ball to within field goal range, but missed the attempt, taking the single instead.

With just over two minutes to play, Carleton passed the ball for a 75-yard touchdown, capping off a 102-yard sequence to give Carleton a 24–21 lead.

After being the hero all year long, fifth-year kicker Lewis Ward blasted a 45-yard field goal to tie the game up at 24 with zeros left on the clock to send the game to overtime.

The two teams exchanged field goals in overtime. The Gees took a 30–27 lead, but the Ravens came back with a touchdown to win the game 33–30.

Head coach Jamie Barresi said that while Lavric may have missed a few opportunities, it’s all part of the growing process for the young quarterback.

“The positive is he threw three laser shots for touchdowns. He didn’t throw an intercept. He got more and more comfortable. He kept seeing more things as the game went along.”

Though the Gees lost in heartbreaking fashion, they can rest in the knowledge that they played hard in a gutsy game, and almost came out on top.

The Gees next home game is on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from the Gee-Gees’ website.