Campbell Fair hits 55-yard walk-off winner as Ottawa Gee-Gees claim 54th Panda Game

Photo courtesy: Greg Kolz/Ottawa Gee-Gees

Kicker Campbell Fair nailed a walk-off 55-yard field goal as time expired to give the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees an 18-16 victory over the rival Carleton Ravens in the 54th Panda Game.

Ottawa got the ball back with 36 seconds remaining to get into position for the game-winner, which tied a career-long for Fair and is also the third longest field goal in U Sports history. The Calgary Stampeders’ sixth-round draft pick, who also spent time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders before returning to school, was automatic, redeeming a first-quarter miss from 42 yards out.

A crowd of more than 23,300 people was reportedly in attendance at TD Place to witness the rivalry game, which is annually the highest-attended game in Canadian university football. The game has become a subject of controversy in recent years, as thousands of students participate in post-Panda Game parties in the surrounding neighbourhoods, leading to property damage and arrests.

With the victory, the Gee-Gees have now captured five straight Panda Game victories. However, it was the Ravens who drew first blood after Charles Asselin fumbled the opening kickoff. Quarterback Tristan Lefebvre soon found his top receiver Kaseem Ferdinand for an 11-yard score.

The next two majors would be Ottawa’s, as quarterback Josh Janssen found receiver Maxim Malenfant for 22 yards just before halftime. A 60-yard bomb to Nicholas Gendron helped set up the next touchdown late in the third quarter, as tight end Scott Fulton caught the 13-yard score.

Carleton mounted an impressive 93-yard drive in response, but running back Alex Gayle came up short on third-and-goal. The defence delivered where the offence could not, notching a safety on the first play of the fourth quarter. After an Xavier Malone interception in the red zone, Lefebvre and company mounted another 88-yard drive and backup quarterback Tristan Rinaldis plunged in the sneak to give the Ravens a narrow lead.

It proved not to be enough, as Ottawa’s defence got the late stop they needed to set up Fair’s heroic kick.

Josh Janssen went 18-of-28 for 251 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions for the Gee-Gees, while Carleton’s Tristan Lefebvre went 19-of-26 for 170 yards and a score. Ottawa’s Nicholas Gendron led the game in receiving yards with four catches for 121 yards, while running back Amlicar Polk posted 15 carries for 83 yards. The Ravens’ backfield duo of Alex Gayle and Joshua Ferguson rushed for 81 and 75 yards respectively.

The first Panda Game was played in 1955 and carries the name of the trophy that is handed out to the winner, Pedro the Panda. The Gee-Gees hold a 37-17 all-time record in the rivalry contest, with Carleton’s most recent win coming in 2017. The game set an attendance record in 2019 with a crowd of 24,600.