On Thursday night at TD Place the University of Ottawa Gee Gees beat the Carleton University Ravens 24-19. The win marks their second win over their inner city rivals and the second game which Ottawa-raised running back J.P Cimankinda ran for more than 100 yards on the ground. Cimankinda ran for 133 yards on 22 carries in the Panda game on October 2nd against the Ravens with 15,000 fans in attendance, on Thursday he was given the ball 18 times and ran for 113 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry, and having a long run of 29 yards.
At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds J.P Cimankinda has been a game changing running back for the Gee Gees. Before coming to UOttawa he ran for 799 yards and 7 touchdowns in the final 5 games of the 2019 OUA season with the Guelph Gryphons, establishing a solid run game and consistent run game with the Gryphons having ran for 100 plus yards in each of his 5 starts and he has brought that exact run game to the nation’s capital. With both of the 100 yard games against the Ravens into the mix, J.P has ran for 437 yards and a score in his first regular season with the Garnet and Grey. In the 4 games which he has 10 or more carries, he’s ran for 409 yards, averaging over 100 yards per game, the other two games he ran the ball 5 and 3 times and a lot of the yards gained this season for Cimankinda have come after contact. He has solidified his role with the University of Ottawa Gee Gees as a power back and watching Cimankinda play as a football fan a comparison you can make is to Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry. Derrick “King” Henry is the NFL’s leading rusher this season, having ran for 869 yards and 10 touchdowns in 7 games and doing so quietly. Henry makes the big plays, he runs for the 70-plus yard touchdowns and is flashy doing so but there are also a number of 3, 4 and 5 yard runs throughout the game which is what tires down the defences and establishes himself into the game plan as the run game gets moving. Those are similar things you see when J.P Cimankinda plays, he runs for 4, or 5 yards here and there to start off the game, but as the defence sees more and more of him he, or his teammate Dawson Odei are able to make the longer runs which end up changing the outcome of the game, extending drives and getting the ball in the end zone.
Cimankinda is eligible for this year’s CFL Draft, but still has eligibility left at the University of Ottawa so Gee Gees fans can expect to see more from him past the 2021 OUA playoffs which kickoff next weekend, however do not be surprised if you see his name in the CFL very soon. His brother, Alain Cimankinda was drafted by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 4th round of the 2021 CFL Draft and has spent the 2021 CFL season with the Roughriders on their practice squad/injury reserve behind the veteran pass rushers they have in Saskatchewan. J.P may find himself being drafted by the Roughriders as well, and it wouldn’t be the first time two brothers have the opportunity to play with each other on CFL teams but what can be rare is the impact that J.P Cimankinda could have on a CFL team. Canadian running backs aren’t always given the best opportunities in the CFL, but if Cimankinda is drafted by an organization he will create the opportunity for himself to make an impact. He has that William Stanback skill set with the Andrew Harris ratio breaking eligibility, giving a CFL team the opportunity to have one of the best backs in the league if given the opportunities.
In Thursday night’s Gee Gees win, quarterback Ben Maracle also found himself having quite the performance, throwing for 142 yards and a score while even running in two touchdowns of his own. His passing touchdown was to Daniel Oladejo on what looked to be a good candidate for OUA Catch of the Year, a 50/50 ball, full extension, it doesn’t get much better than that. Oladejo had 42 yards receiving on the night, leading the pack while Nathan Walker had 39. Rookie receiver Rodney Estime also made two catches for 21 yards but the real offensive attack came with the run game of both Cimankinda and Odei who combined for 196 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, the Gee Gee’s defence held Reid Vankoughnett’s passing attack out of the end zone, but gave up two rushing scores from quarterbacks, one on a sneak and the other on a scramble. Gee Gees’ Max Charbonneau led the team with 9 tackles while James Peter had 5, T.K Victome had 4, Frednick Eveillard had a sack and Eric Cumberbatch broke up a pass. The defence forced a number of punts and held the Ravens out of the end zone on multiple occasions, a large reason to the win at the end of the day.
Be on the lookout for J.P Cimankinda as he and his University of Ottawa Gee Gees teammates face off against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues next weekend to kickoff their OUA Playoff run, and don’t forget the name as it may just be one you hear watching the CFL on TSN soon.