All photos taken by JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic at 2021 Panda Game
At 12:00 on Saturday at TD Place the Carleton University Ravens kicked off to the University of Ottawa Gee Gees to launch the annual inner-city rivalry game called “The Panda Game.” Going into the game, it may have looked from afar that the Carleton Ravens were going to win the game. They were coming off of a big 30-17 win from a week ago against York where quarterback Tanner Dejong threw for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns while the Gee Gees opened the season 0-2 with and were looking to rebound from a 30-7 loss to Queens and that is exactly what took place at TD Place in Ottawa on Saturday. The Ravens ended up being without quarterback Tanner Dejong due to an injury he faced to his leg, leaving them with first year quarterback from the Kamloops Broncos Reid Vankoughnett. Although Vankoughnett was able to keep the Ravens in the game, throwing for one score and handing the ball off to Nathan Carter for another his efforts weren’t enough to keep up with the Gee Gees defence and University of Ottawa running back J.P Cimankinda.
The Ottawa Gee Gees won the game 19-17, winning the game on a game winning 45 yard Campbell Fair field goal with a minute left in the Panda Game. They were led by quarterback Ben Maracle for the the first parts of the game where he connected on a number of throws to Daniel Oladejo, Rodney Estime as well as a Tristan Park 64 yard touchdown until he went down and Matt Mahler came in to replace him. Mahler was able to connect with his receivers on multiple occasions as well and also picked up a few first downs on the ground, but out of all the players on the Gee Gees’ offence, it was Ottawa-raised running back J.P Cimankinda that left the biggest impact. Cimankinda, who transferred from Guelph during the off-season alongside receiver Willy-Pierre Dimbongi and defensive back A.K Ismail ran all over the Carleton University Ravens and at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds it was tough for the Ravens to bring him down. Being fed the ball like Derrick Henry, Cimankinda ran for 133 yards on 22 carries and led the Gee Gees offence to score a touchdown and three field goals while the Gee Gees defence forced a rouge and a safety to make 19 points.
Also starring on the Gee Gees team was the entire defensive front seven. First year quarterback Reid Vankoughnett for the Ravens was hurried on what seemed like every play of the game and was sacked 2 times while other Ravens quarterback Tristan Rinaldis was sacked twice as well by the Gee Gees defence. They only were able to throw for a combined 48 yards passing and like the Gee Gees, relied on the running game with their own number one back Nathan Carter who rushed for 108 yards. Gee Gees’ linebacker James Peter led the defence with 12 tackles while defensive end Michael Pezzuto had 7 tackles and a sack. The Gee Gees defence forced the Ravens to punt 10 times on the day and won the game on all cylinders.
With the 19-17 win over the Ravens, the University of Ottawa Gee Gees have now won 3 straight Panda Games, and the future looks bright with local talented guys in Daniel Oladejo, T.K Victome, J.P Cimankinda, James Peter and more. Both the Gee Gees and Ravens will find each other playing one another once again on the 28th of October at TD Place for a Gee Gees home game and depending what both teams look like in the last weeks of the 2021 OUA shortened season, the Panda Game rematch may just be even bigger than Saturday’s Panda Game.