Down by four points, four seconds remaining on the clock.
The Carleton Ravens sub quarterback Jesse Mills (Halifax, NS) into the game to attempt a Hail Mary from midfield. Mills drops back, looks downfield, and throws up an absolute prayer into triple-coverage, only to see the ball bounce off an Ottawa Gee-Gees defender and fall into the mitts of Ravens receiver Nate Behar (London, Ont.) as he sailed into the endzone to be swarmed by a sea of red and black.
The rivalry will be renewed once again on Saturday as the Carleton Ravens head to TD Place where they will take on their crosstown foe, the Ottawa Gee-Gees, at 1:00pm in the OUA.tv Marquee Matchup.
"There is not much that was going through my mind to be honest," Behar said in a post-game interview.
"The ball just kind of landed in my hand, I covered it with the other hand and the rest is history. When the guys rushed towards me after the touchdown it was amazing because we are so tightly knit and so close as a group. When I looked up there were fans and players all around me and it was a beautiful moment. I don't think I have ever felt so good in my entire life.''
This was the scene at the last Panda Game, held annually between Ottawa and Carleton, as football fans in the nation's capital watched the Ravens take home Pedro the Panda, the storied trophy of the matchup. The last time Carleton won the Panda Game was in 1994, only to lose four straight to the Gee-Gees as they watched their football program fold and the rivalry come to an end.
In 2013, the Carleton Ravens football program was revived and with it the renewal of the storied Panda Game rivalry. The Gee-Gees walked over a newly formed Ravens squad by a score of 35-10, as Ottawa would work their way into playoffs and Carleton would finish the season winless.
However, 2014 would see a new and improved Ravens squad take the field and improve their record to 4-4, including their spectacular Panda Bowl win. Ottawa took their talents all the way to the OUA semi-finals, where they would be knocked out by eventual Vanier Cup finalists from McMaster.
This season has seen both football programs in the city of Ottawa, Ont. off to solid starts, as Ottawa sits at 2-2, while Carleton has crept just above .500 with a record of 3-2.
The Gee-Gee's have had a tougher start to their schedule than the Ravens, and despite putting up 40 points a game still suffered losses to McMaster and Guelph, two nationally-ranked teams. Carleton had an easier opening, taking home wins against Waterloo, Windsor and Toronto, while tasting defeat at the hands of Queen's and Western.
Both teams come off Week 5 losses, which makes this year's Panda Game not only crucial for the storied bragging rights behind it, but also for this season's playoff run. Ottawa has been marching downfield on the back of Derek Wendel (Belleville, Ont.) all season. Wendel leads the country averaging 384 passing yards per game. Ottawa's top receiver Ian Stewart (Burlington, Ont.) also leads OUA in receiving yards per game with 126.8, while pulling in five of Wendel's 14 touchdown passes this year.
The Ravens are led by third-year running back Jahvari Bennett (Mississauga, Ont.), who has racked up 110 yards per game on top of his six touchdowns this season. Last year's Panda Game hero Behar returns as the team's top receiver, while explosive return specialist Tunde Adeleke (Ottawa, Ont.) leads the team in all-purpose yards, adding on 142 per game to go along with two touchdowns this year.
Week 6 in OUA is "Rivalry Week," and the Panda Game isn't the only battle to claim hometown bragging rights.
In the 46th annual Red & Blue Bowl, the Toronto Varsity Blues will head to York Stadium to take on cross-town rivals York Lions under the Friday night lights. Toronto has taken home the Argo Cup, donated in 1992 by the Toronto Argonauts, each of the past two years.
Keep an eye on York's Jahmari Bennett (Mississauga, Ont.), a versatile player for the Lions who has already seen time at quarterback, running back and receiver in York's first five games. Against Guelph Bennett returned a missed field goal attempt 115 yards for a touchdown, giving him the longest play in CIS so far this season.
On Saturday afternoon, the Battle for Waterloo will rage on as the Laurier Golden Hawks head down Columbia St. to take on the Waterloo Warriors, with both teams desperately looking for a win.
The Golden Hawks have lost three straight including a disappointing performance against Windsor this past weekend, falling to the Lancers 22-18.
In last year's Battle for Waterloo, Laurier spoiled the Warrior's homecoming, running over the black and gold 44-0. Laurier running back Dillon Campbell (Whitby, Ont.) torched the Waterloo defence for 204 yards on the ground to go along with two touchdowns. Expect Campbell to lead the way for the Golden Hawks again this year, as the fifth-year running back is averaging 136.0 all-purpose yards per game this season. On the other side of the ball, expect fifth-year running back Ryan Di Risio (Burlington, Ont.) to lead the charge for the Warriors, after totalling 116 yards on the ground against York last week.
Fans can watch the Red and Blue Bowl live from York Stadium on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. live on OUA.tv.
Catch the Panda Game and Battle of Waterloo live on OUA.tv starting Saturday at 1:00 p.m. OUA football fans in the Ottawa area can also watch the Panda Game live locally on Rogers TV Ottawa Cable 22 or listen to the game on TSN 1200.
OUA.TV RIVALRY WEEK BY THE NUMBERS
0:04 - Seconds remaining on the clock in last year's Panda Game when Raven's quarterback Jesse Mills launched up a game-winning Hail Mary from mid-field which was hauled in by Nate Behar.
33-13 - Ottawa's record in Panda Games against Carleton since the games inception in 1955. Since the rivalry game returned in 2013, however, the record sits at 1-1.
29-16 - Toronto's record in the Red & Blue Bowl since 1970. In the last two decades, however, the York Lions have come out on top, winning 13 of the past 20 games, including a 12-game win streak that started in 1996.
4 - Number of touchdowns Simon Nassar (Toronto, Ont.) threw in the 2013 Red & Blue Bowl against the Lions, a record which he shares with David Hamilton from 2008. Nassar is the only active record holder in the battle for the Argo Cup.
11 - Laurier's winning streak in the Battle of Waterloo over their cross-town rivals, the Waterloo Warriors.