OTTAWA, ON – In the highest attended Panda Game in 49 years, the Ravens delivered a memorable 33-30 double overtime victory over the Ottawa Gee-Gees in front of a sellout crowd of 24, 420 at TD Place Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Third-year receiver Quinton Soares (London, ON) opened the scoring for the Ravens by returning Lewis Ward’s punt 84 yards to the house to give his team a 7-0 advantage early on.
After some back and forth play, veteran kicker Michael Domagala (St. Catharines, ON) rewarded the Ravens with an 18-yard field goal to extend Carleton’s lead to 10-0 at the end of the first.
Just under three minutes into the second, Domagala was clutch again as his 32-yard field goal pushed the Ravens ahead 13-0.
However, the Gee-Gees remained focused, as they were able to respond with a touchdown to narrow Carleton’s lead thanks to rookie QB Alex Lavric, who found second-year wideout Kalem Beaver in the end zone to cut the deficit to six.
With just under two minutes to go in the half, Carleton moved the sticks to get within field goal range, where Michael Domagala connected from 24 yards to make it 16-7 at the intermission.
The third quarter saw the Gee-Gees find their rhythm as Lavric found receiver Carter Matheson on a nine-yard score to make it a two-point game, 16-14, in favour of the Ravens.
Ten minutes later, Lavric guided uOttawa downfield before firing a bullet to Beaver who found daylight in the middle of the field to score on a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Gee-Gees a 21-16 lead on the scoreboard.
The Ravens, who have proven to be a resilient squad so far this season, weren’t ready to give up just yet. Trailing by five points in the fourth and final quarter, the Ravens made a drive towards the end zone with under 10 minutes to go. Despite missing a few glorious red zone chances, Domagala’s rouge made it a four-point game.
Still down with under five minutes to go and their playoff hopes on the line, the Ravens needed a miracle. With the intensity at its peak, Michael Arruada found third-year receiver Phil Iloki (Montreal, QC), whose astonishing one-handed climb-the-ladder snag led to a 75-yard run to the end zone. With just two minutes to go, the Ravens led 24-21.
However, like the Ravens, the Gee-Gees weren’t going down without a fight. With no time left on the clock, and the Gee-Gees forced to kick to tie, uOttawa’s Lewis Ward levelled the game up on a 45-yard field goal to even out the game at 24-24.
Sixty minutes wasn’t enough to settle the game, but neither was one overtime.
In the first OT period, Domagala was able to nail a 32-yard field goal, but Ward replied with a triple from 40 to extend the game.
In the second overtime, uOttawa started with the ball at Carleton’s 35. After a few penalties against Carleton that helped uOttawa inch closer to the end zone, the Ravens’ defence came up with a crucial goal-line stand to reduce the damage to a nine-yard field goal.
With one last possession to either tie up or win the game, the Ravens drove the ball to the Gee-Gees’ 21 when a flag was thrown on the field. A costly face mask penalty by uOttawa’s Cody Cranston brought Carleton to Ottawa’s six-yard line. At first-and-goal, Arruda faked the hand-off before taking a naked bootleg to the outside and scrambling for the game-winning touchdown.
With their playoff hopes on the line, the Ravens couldn’t have asked for a better scenario.
“It felt like all year long we were losing these kind of games and now to get this win, we’re hoping it’ll catapult us forward,” head coach Steve Sumarah said.
Though the Ravens are excited about the win, they know there is still plenty of work to be done.
“Let’s enjoy this for 24 hours, and then it’s over – we’ve got to prepare for Western basically starting tomorrow night,” he continued. “It’s a short week so we’ve got to put this in the box and move on.”
Rookie QB sensation Arruda echoed his thoughts.
“We have quite a bit to work on, as you can see,” Arruda explained. “But at least we’re going to have the energy next week – we’re going to be 2-3 and we have a chance to get in playoffs. This is gonna bring us up – big time.”
Up next, the Ravens will take on the first-place Western Mustangs at TD Stadium in London.
For any viewers who may have experienced transmission issues while watching the CHCH feed, be sure to check out the entirety of the 49th Panda Game, including the thrilling 2OT finish, on oua.tv!