By Martin Cleary
When the game is on the line and time is running out, who ya gonna call to decide the issue?
The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees passed on the Ghostbusters and called the name of Campbell Fair for an uplifting, straight-as-an-arrow field goal to earn the victory.
And why not?
For the third time in his five-year Gee-Gees career, placement kicker Fair was the man of the hour with no time on the clock during Sunday’s Panda Game at TD Place Stadium and delivered the Gee-Gees a critical win instead of a deflating defeat.
Fair matched his club record and set a Panda Game mark, when he struck a 55-yard field goal to give the Gee-Gees an 18-16 nail-biting decision over the Carleton University Ravens and a fifth-consecutive Panda Game victory.
Played before 23,500 exuberant fans, the crosstown rivalry win allowed the Gee-Gees to move into fourth place alone in the OUA standings with a 3-2 record. The Ravens, meanwhile, dropped into a three-way tie for seventh place with Queen’s University Gaels and the University of Waterloo Warriors at 2-3. The top six teams make the playoffs with three regular-season games remaining for the Gee-Gees and Ravens.
When Fair, 23, ran onto the field for his potential game-winning field goal from centre field, he was accustomed to solving that lengthy equation at least once in each of the past two seasons. But it wouldn’t be an automatic as Fair had missed an earlier 42-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter of the Panda Game.
As the ball was snapped to holder/backup quarterback Matt Mahler and the clock showed no time, Fair booted a high, end-over-ball ball through the uprights. The ball went about five yards into the end zone.
Let the celebration begin, yet again, for the Gee-Gees, who now lead the Panda Games series 37-17.
Fair was fully focused for his game-winning field goal and not disturbed by anxious Ravens fans, who false-started their celebration by running onto the field, thinking the Gee-Gees’ kick would be missed, assuring a Carleton victory.
“After the kick, celebrating with the whole university was crazy. People were coming up to me and taking pictures, people I don’t even know,” Fair said in a story posted on the Gee-Gees’ website.
“I’ve never had an experience like that and I don’t know if I ever will again. I have my mental process I follow for every kick, and obviously there was a little more pressure this time, but I tried to focus on the kick and not the moment.”
Carleton punter Joey Sciandra appeared to solidify the Ravens’ win with a 48-yard punt to the Ottawa 28-yard line, but Gee-Gees’ Charles Asselin made a 15-yard return to this team’s 43-yard line with 36 seconds remaining.
The first-down pass by Gee-Gees quarterback Josh Janssen was incomplete. He followed by connecting with Noah Avery for a nine-yard gain, but that left a third-down and one-yard situation. Janssen then hit Nicholas Gendron for a 10-yard completion to the Ravens’ 48-yard line.
Carleton called a timeout with four seconds remaining to prepare for the final play and let Fair think a little longer about his monumental 55-yard field-goal try.
Fair also was the Gee-Gees’ hero at the 2021 Panda Game, when his 45-yard field goal with one minute remaining in the game gave Ottawa a come-from-behind 19-17 victory over Carleton.
Last season, Fair used a 55-yard field goal with no time on the clock to give the Gee-Gees a 21-18 decision over the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks.
“Campbell did that last year, he had a 55-yarder to walk it off against Laurier at their homecoming,” said Marcel Bellefeuille, the Gee-Gees’ head coach. “He’s done it before. He let the wind die a bit before asking for the ball. Being with the Stampeders and Roughriders over the summer I think really gave him confidence.”
Fair was selected by the Calgary Stampeders in the sixth round and 51st overall during the 2023 CFL Draft. He played a pre-season game for the Stampeders and kicked a 36-yard field goal. After being released by Calgary, he signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 10.
“I always believe we have an opportunity right to the last play,” Bellefeuille added. “We still had enough time to get ourselves into field-goal position and we practised that situation over the last two weeks. I felt confident we could execute.”
Carleton posted strong offensive numbers in the game with 22 first downs and 390 yards total offence. Ottawa managed only 16 first downs and 351 yards.
Janssen completed 18 of 28 pass attempts for 251 yards with touchdowns to Maxim Malenfant (22 yards) and Scott Fulton (13 yards).
Running back Amlicar Polk, the OUA’s leading rusher, was held under 100 yards for the first time in five games, gaining 83 yards on a season-low 15 carries. Gendron made four catches for 121 yards, including his longest at 60 yards.
Carleton quarterback Tristan Lefebvre gained 170 yards through the air by connecting on 19 of his 26 pass attempts and an opening-series touchdown to Kaseem Ferdinand (11 yards).
A one-yard touchdown run by Tristan Rinaldis and a convert by Brandon Forcier with 4:25 left in the game gave the Ravens a 16-15 advantage. Carleton’s other points came off a team safety in the fourth quarter.
Fair, who had one running play for 15 yards off a botched punt attempt, also kicked two converts and one single.
TEAM HOMAN WINS ALL 4 MATCHES FOR $50,000 CHEQUE
Less than a month after giving birth to her third child, Briggs, Ottawa Curling Club’s Rachel Homan returned to the curling ice and was in championship form.
The $175,000 women’s and men’s PointsBet Invitational in Oakville was a direct elimination competition for 16 teams on each side.
Homan’s rink posted four consecutive victories, including a 9-7 decision over arch-rival Kerri Einarson of Camp Morton, MB., in the 10-end final to win the title and the $50,000 first prize.
After Homan blanked the first end, she missed her final shot of the second end, giving Einarson a steal for a 3-0 lead. Trailing 4-2 after four ends, Homan rebounded with a three-point fifth end and another three pointer in the ninth end to snap a 6-6 tie.
Earlier, Homan, third Tracy Fleury, second Emma Miskew and lead Sarah Wilkes defeated Shaelyn Park of Moncton 11-1 (eight ends) in the round of 16, Isabelle Ladouceur of Whitby, ON., 10-6 (nine ends) in the quarterfinals and Christina Black of Halifax 10-5 (eight ends) in the semifinals.
In head-to-head competition, Homan has a 23-15 career record against Einarson, including winning four of their last six matches going back almost one year.
TWO TOP-10 RESULTS FOR OVGA GOLFERS AT ONTARIO JUNIOR TOUR FINALE
Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club’s Graydon Laughlin and Royal Ottawa’s Chase Jerome tied for seventh place in the boys’ 54-hole Ontario junior tour championship at FireRock Golf Club.
After shooting an opening-round six-over-par 78, Laughlin scored 72-74 to finish with an eight-over-par score of 224.
Jerome was one of six golfers tied for seventh place, after rounds of 71-76-77-224. He was in second place after the first round and fourth entering the third and final round.
Amelia McFarlane of Pakenham Highlands tied for 22nd place in the girls’ tournament at 82-81-79 for a 23-over-par 242.
The Ottawa Valley Golf Association has determined its Tournament of Champions winners, after an 18-hole tournament at the Hylands Golf Club.
The main champions are Tyler Stone of Camelot, three-under-par 69, men; and Perry Freda of Madawaska, 73, men’s senior. The top women were Diane Mansfield, of Hautes Plaines, 78, women; and Diane Dolan of Hylands, 79, women’s senior (one-hole playoff win over Karin Lofstrom of Grayhawk).
UNDEFEATED RAVENS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM, WINS OWN TOURNAMENT
The Carleton University Ravens women’s basketball team went undefeated in three games to capture the championship trophy at the Ravens’ Basketball Fall Invitational.
The Ravens defeated Brock University Badgers 81-48, the Université du Québec à Montréal Citadins 59-52 and the Concordia University Stingers 73-43.
Kali Pocrnic sparked the win over Brock with 27 points and four rebounds. Kyana-Jade Poulin led Ravens’ scorers against the Citadins with 21 points. Tatyanna Burke had a double-double in each of her final two games and averaged 15 points in the tournament.
LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
· Brothers Will and Sam Bitten played their first game together as professional hockey players Saturday, when they skated for the NHL’s St. Louis Blues in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. Will, who had one shot on goal in the game, is projected to return to the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds and Sam is expected to join his older brother, after two seasons in Czechia.
· Israel-Premier Tech’s Michael Woods of Ottawa placed fifth in the Giro dell’Emilia cycling road race and was only four seconds from winning the 204.1-kilometre test. “I had some good momentum in the legs and I think it bodes well for the big one, Il Lombardia, next weekend,” Woods said on his team’s website. “The team rode really well all day. I had a lot of help from the guys and now I’m really looking forward to next Saturday.”
· The Canadian men’s volleyball team defeated The Netherlands 25-21, 23-25, 24-26, 25-18, 15-12 and Argentina 27-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-15 in its first two matches at the Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Xi’an, China. Gatineau’s Nicholas Hoag is captain of the national men’s team.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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