In the 51st rendition of the Panda Game – the annual football game between the Carleton University Ravens and the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees – the U of O took Pedro the Panda back home with a score of 32-10.
“It’s always exciting. I mean, we work hard for this, we work all season long, and it’s nice to win Panda with such a huge crowd and all our fans here at the stadium supporting us, so, it means a lot,” Gee-Gees wide receiver Carter Matheson said.
Saturday’s game was a tale of three Gee-Gees quarterbacks.
Since the first week of Ontario University Athletics games, Gee-Gees quarterback, Sawyer Buettner, who helped propel the team to their first Panda win in four years in 2018, sustained an injury.
In came Ben Maracle, a first-year quarterback from Deseronto, Ontario. Since he came in, he has helped propel the Gee-Gees to five wins since Sep. 8.
Maracle started the Panda Game, but with the Ravens holding a 10-1 lead at halftime, the Gee-Gees put in Matt Mahler, a first-year quarterback from Canmore, Alberta.
“He did well. He’s a first-year guy on our team, and he played well, he made all the right decisions, so we’re happy with how he played,” Matheson said about Mahler’s performance.
Not only did Mahler help propel his team to their second consecutive Panda Game win, the day also marked Mahler’s first Panda Game.
“It was awesome. Shout out to the fans out there, it was a great atmosphere on the field and in the stands, and you could feel it in the air,” Mahler said.
In terms of his own performance, Mahler thought he played well, while also crediting the team.
“I felt good. But at the end of the day, once again, the whole line up front, they protected me and they allowed us to run the ball, and we got the win,” Mahler said.
And in Matheson’s case, he acknowledged he made a few mistakes.
“I dropped a couple balls and I let them get a pick, but I caught the ones that mattered down the stretch and we came away with a win, so, it’s important,” Matheson said.
Which is why, when it all comes down to it, the atmosphere of the Gee-Gees program is what drew Mahler in.
“Something felt right and I’m glad I’m here,” Mahler said.
The Gee-Gees will now get set to face off against the University of Windsor Lancers on Oct. 11.
As for next year, we’ll see how the 52nd Panda Game turns out as to where Pedro ends up.