Football News

For young Carleton Ravens, Adeleke’s record-tying touchdown in Panda Game another peek at their promise

Written by Nate Sager

Panda Game Touchdown

Photo by Rohit Saxena

First Tunde Adeleke started stepping lightly after catching a missed field goal in the back of the end zone, moving toward the goal line gingerly like a young adult trying not to wake up his parents after coming home late. Then the Carleton Ravens’ 18-year-old cornerback kicked into high gear, slicing through the Ottawa Gee-Gees field goal team as a murmur built to howling. He seemed to run into a tackle with a cut near midfield, but squirmed out of Aaron Colbon’s tackle at midfield and completed a 129-yard missed field goal return, just the third of its kind in Canadian university football annals.

Watch Adeleke’s 129 yard touchdown drive

Skip to 30 seconds in the video to watch the Ravens highlight.

That vignette was what one wanted to see Saturday in the nation’s capital, during the first Panda Game between ambitious OUA newcomer Carleton and the established Ottawa Gee-Gees. Ottawa was always going to win, since it had first-year Carleton outmanned and out-experienced at nearly every position. But Adeleke’s runback, the lone touchdown Carleton mustered in a 35-10 loss as it fell to 0-6 in its yearling season, was the talker. It’s not often the must-get post-game interview subject is a cornerback on a winless team that allowed 651 yards total offence, but the Ontario league hasn’t had a first-year entry such as this in generations.

“I wanted to make a play,” Adeleke, a hometown Ottawa kid who played with the Myers Riders club program and a St. Francis Xavier high school. “I saw an opening and I was able to keep going. I was dead tired after 50 yards and was looking back hoping no one would catch me. Fortunately the wall of white jerseys kept me safe, they did a great job of blocking for me so I can’t take all the credit.

“That run was nice, but at the end of the day, we play to win and one play isn’t going to make me happy.”

The record-tying runback midway through the second quarter got Carleton to within 14-10. The optimism was fleeting, as Ottawa, paced by 204 receiving-rushing yards by tailback Brendan Gillanders and Colbon’s 295-yard, three-TD day through the air, pulled away after the half.

Carleton, of course, will take a baby-step moral victory wherever it can find one as coach Steve Sumarah’s team, with an average age of less than 19 years old, pays its dues in the OUA. Having one of the newbies, particularly a hometown recruit in Adeleke, tie a CIS record fit the bill quite nicely.

“I was kind of like, uhhhhh, because he was kind of taking his time and I was starting to panic a little bit,” Sumarah said of that play. “But then once he started to get into gear I knew he had the sideline. I didn’t think he’d score, but I knew he’d get out to the 30, 35-yard range and then it was the 40, 45 … and then breaking the tackle was incredible.

“And that’s what we are. We’re a bunch of young guys trying to figure it out. When you see a play like that, you think, ‘we can compete out here.’ That’s the big thing.

“That return was as spectacular a football play as you’ll see anywhere, at any level.”