Saturday, October 08, 2005

Where Were You When...

In honor of the 17th anniversary of the end of the streak, I thought I'd open up the floor to all Lion fans, (and others), who have memories of the day we finally won to end the 44-game losing streak. Feel free to tell your story on the "comments" page.

Here's my story:

I was a freshman in the fall of 1988, trying to find my niche at school. My sister was a senior, and I made the mistake of spending too much time with her and her friends instead of concentrating on making friends from my own year. So, even by October, the idea of going to a Columbia football game wasn't foremost in my mind, especially with a Mets-Dodgers playoff game on TV the same day.

I sat in front of the TV in the common room with a few other guys in my sister's dorm, (Furnald). Someone left the radio tuned to the Columbia game on the other end of the room. The Mets were coasting to a victory, but we were all getting a little more excited about the score of the football game. Two senior guys in the room decided to bolt up to Baker Field at halftime and I joined them. I got there by the beginning of the fourth quarter. Two things I remember from the end of the game is that Princeton had a TD called back for holding and that the last-second field goal attempt to win the game was very, very short.

I didn't get to tear down the goalposts as I was having too much fun dancing on the field and I kept thinking about that girl who died tearing down the goalposts at the 100th Harvard-Yale game in 1983.

Back on campus, the university set up tables with free pizza and bear, and some of the top administrators were actually helping to hand out the goodies! People were hanging out of their dorm windows yelling "we won!" Frat row on 114th Street was mobbed with people tossing around mementoes from the game, including the bulky goalpost pads.

All in all a great day.


Here's how the NEW YORK TIMES covered the celebrations:


A Long Celebration After a Long Wait

By JACK CURRY
694 words
10 October 1988
The New York Times
Late City Final Edition
English
Copyright 1988 The New York Times Company. All Rights Reserved.

They tore down the goal posts, they caused the police to reroute traffic near their campus and they celebrated deep into the night. The Columbia faithful acted just like college football fans do after an impressive victory, which is notable since they have not had any practice in the past five years.

They tore down the goal posts, they caused the police to reroute traffic near their campus and they celebrated deep into the night. The Columbia faithful acted just like college football fans do after an impressive victory, which is notable since they have not had any practice in the past five years.

For the first time since 1983, Columbia football players awakened on Sunday not dreading the game films. On Saturday the Lions beat Princeton, 16-13, to end the longest losing streak in Division I football history at 44 games. The streak is over. A new streak began.

''The streak starts now,'' said Greg Abbruzzese, the sophomore running back who had 182 yards rushing. ''It's one game and it feels so good.''

The celebration was an emotional scene. Players who had graduated last year without a victory in four years and had returned for homecoming wept openly. The celebration moved from Lawrence A. Wien Stadium near the tip of Manhattan to 114th Street where the goal posts were paraded up and down the block. Toilet paper filled the trees and people danced in the streets. Hooting and Hollering

''They waited five years for this so the police just let them hoot and holler,'' said Sgt. D. J. Lawrence of Columbia campus security. ''It was like they won the national championship.''

''I have never seen so many people in my life,'' said Mark Zielinski, the junior defensive end who had seven tackles and two sacks.

Larry McElreavy, the head coach for 23 of the 44 losses, celebrated quietly with his family. He ordered a pizza and uncorked a bottle of Dom Perignon that his first team at Columbia had given him. McElreavy missed the locker room celebration because of interviews and did not partake in the party on campus.

''My celebration was just seeing the smiles on the faces of our players,'' the coach said. ''That was enough.''

The smiles were still present yesterday.

''This was the happiest moment of my life,'' Abbruzzese said. ''I don't think I'll ever forget this.''

That the victory came against Princeton was another reason for Columbia to gloat. The Tigers defeated Columbia, 38-8, last year to give the Lions the longest losing streak. The loss was their 35th in a row, surpassing Northwestern's mark of 34.

''During the game, their linebackers were pointing at me whenever I lined up,'' Abbruzzese said. ''They were saying, 'Let's get him.' I didn't like that.'' 'Everybody Wants to Win'

Another aspect concerning Princeton and Columbia centers on the Garrett brothers, Jason, the Tigers' quarterback, and Judd, the running back. Their father, Jim, coached at Columbia in 1985 and came under fire for calling the players ''drug addicted losers.'' When he left Columbia unable to end the streak, so did his sons.

''I looked at Judd's eyes in the fourth quarter,'' said Zielinski, who is a friend of the Garrett brothers, ''and you could tell. I knew their team was beaten.''

The streak is over. No longer will fans throughout the country be so eager to find out the results of Columbia games. After the news media attention subsides, Columbia can resume its attempt at becoming competitive in the Ivy League.

''Some people thought it was better for them not to win because the longest losing streak was something that they had to themselves,'' said Mark Burns, a student in his senior year at Columbia. ''It set them apart. Now they will just go back to being a last-place team in the Ivy League. I don't agree with that. Everybody wants to win.''

On Saturday, Columbia finally did.


Here's NEWSDAY's Take:



Celebration! Beer flows as the streak ends at Columbia

John Valenti

10 October 1988
Newsday
NASSAU AND SUFFOLK
93
English
(Copyright Newsday Inc., 1988)

Nightfall on Saturday brought with it an undeclared "wet campus" at Columbia. Kegs of beer were delivered to Wollman Auditorium and the school administration ordered pizza by the truckload - the unofficial count was 200 pies - and hired a band. Students screamed out of windows on Fraternity Row, danced in the quad in front of Low Library and, at one point, even marched out onto Broadway and stopped traffic in an effort to get their message to the world.

Columbia 16, Princeton 13. The streak is dead.

"There was so much celebration," said Rob Endelman, a reporter for the Columbia Daily Spectator, the student-run newspaper. "It was probably the earliest, most widespread drunken stupor in the history of the school."

Earlier in the day, Columbia put an end to its major-college record 44-game losing streak. The aftermath of victory brought with it an outpouring of emotion usually reserved for political rallies and demonstrations around the campus on Morningside Heights.

No sooner had Columbia defeated Princeton did members among the homecoming crowd of 5,420 storm the muddy, rain-soaked field and tear down the goalposts. So what if they each cost $2,500? "We'll just have to get new ones," Columbia coach Larry McElreavy said.

The uprights were carried away. By late Saturday at least one had found its way to the ZBT Frat House on 115th Street and Broadway.

"I hadn't realized how this had all built up in me over three years," said McElreavy, who handled the streak with uncommon grace and who openly wept on the field after the game - his first win in 24 games. "I don't usually cry. But I just broke down. It was like all the demons were exorcised out of my body."

McElreavy said he and his wife and daughter went home after the game, ordered a pizza and uncorked a bottle of Dom Perignon given to him by his first team captain, Chris Riga, in 1986. "Karen had not touched that bottle in three years," he said of his wife, "and for some reason that morning she brought it upstairs and put it in the refrigerator. It had aged very nicely."

Late Saturday, McElreavy and his family returned to campus. They walked around, watching the ruckus. "We enjoyed it thoroughly," he said. By yesterday morning, McElreavy had been "besieged" by phone calls from friends and well-wishers.

"This was everything I wanted it to be," said McElreavy, who was scheduled to appear with his entire team today on ABC's "Good Morning America." "Football has a way of bringing a campus together. It is hard to rally around an English class. Wasn't it Bear Bryant who said that? I'm not sure."

By yesterday afternoon, there were no reminders of the celebration. "It's normal," Endelman said. "Everyone had to get back to Plato and Aristotle."

Still, for one night, at least, the members of the Columbia football team had found good reason to celebrate. And a campus had found a reason to join them. Seems Like Old Times

The ending may not have been expected, but when Tigers kicker Chris Lutz missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt that could have tied the score with two seconds remaining, it brought back memories of another Princeton-Columbia game that ended a streak.

That streak marked 26 straight wins by Princeton over Columbia, between 1945 and 1970 - then an NCAA record for consecutive victories by one opponent. On Saturday, Clemson defeated Virginia for the 28th straight time.

"It was 1971," recalled Bill Steinman, Columbia sports information director. "Columbia was up by two points, but Princeton had the ball and was driving. They moved to within field-goal range. There were two seconds remaining."

John Bartges was the kicker on a 37-yard attempt. "The kick did not even reach the goal line," Steinman said. Columbia won, 22-20.

"I can't remember one other kid, one other thing about that game," Steinman said. "But I remember that kick." Believe It or Not

Would you believe that the win over Princeton marked the first game in 16 years in which Columbia did not commit a turnover? Columbia quarterbacks threw seven interceptions in their first two games this season. But Bruce Mayhew, a sophomore who passed 7-for-11 for 60 yards and a 9-yard touchdown to Matt Less Saturday, has not thrown an interception in two starts. The Lions, who did not fumble, last played an error-free game in a 44-0 win over Fordham on Oct. 4, 1972.

The Lions had won just four previous times since 1980, but with the win, Columbia is now 5-76-2 - a winning percentage of 7.2 percent - in the 1980s.

The Lions (1-3 overall, 1-2 in the Ivy League), meet Yale Saturday in New Haven and have a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time since 1978.

Tailback Greg Abbruzzese yesterday was voted Offensive Player of the Week in the Ivy League. The 6-1, 205-pound sophomore gained 182 yards on 37 carries and had three receptions for 34 yards.

It marked the most rushing yardage by a Columbia player since Doug Jackson, now an assistant coach, gained 194 yards on 33 carries on Nov. 12, 1975.

The win marked the first time in 24 games that Columbia won a football game at Wien Stadium, which was dedicated in 1984. The win was even sweeter because Lawrence Wien, 83, who donated $5 million to build the facility, is gravely ill.

"We finally got a win for him in his stadium," said McElreavy, whose team will present Wien with an autographed game ball and a videotape of the game. One for `The Duzzer'

When Columbia linebacker and captain John Alex arrived at the postgame news conference Saturday, he wore a headband that read "One for the Duzzer" and a patch on his shirt that read "Duz." It was in honor of Bill Narduzzi, a former assistant coach who succumbed to Hodgkin's disease on Feb. 4.

"He was my man," Alex said. "We loved him so much. That's why I wore this. I dedicated this win to him."

It may not have been "One for the Gipper," but Alex fulfilled his pledge. The 5-11, 205-pound senior made 16 tackles, 13 of them unassisted. "Somewhere," Alex said, "I know `Duz' is smiling."


The CHICAGO TRIBUNE:

COLUMBIA IS IN A BUBBLY MOOD

Robert Markus
780 words
10 October 1988
Chicago Tribune
NORTH SPORTS FINAL; C
11
English
(Copyright 1988)

Columbia coach Larry McElreavy had a hunch that Saturday was going to be the day the Lions would break their 44-game losing streak.

"Actually, my wife did," McElreavy said Sunday. "I've had a bottle of champagne for three years that a player gave me, and the morning of the game she went down in the cellar and put it in the refrigerator."

Corks were popping all over New York after Columbia's 16-13 victory. "It was madness," said McElreavy. "It was great to see an institution supposedly apathetic suddenly so unapathetic, tearing down goal posts and lugging 'em into the subways."

Bill Steinman, the school's publicist, said he was pacing in the back of the press box during the third quarter when "I looked out the window and saw people racing up the subway stairs. Apparently they were listening to the game on the radio and felt they had to be here."

His only complaint: The phone was ringing off the hook Sunday while he was trying to watch films of Yale, Columbia's next opponent. "It's been going crazy, it really has," he said.


Toronto's GLOBE AND MAIL:

Columbia victorious after long drought

Associated Press
695 words
10 October 1988
The Globe and Mail
C4
English
All material copyright Thomson Canada Limited or its licensors. All rights reserved.

Associated Press

The taunting and teasing will finally stop and Columbia can resume playing in the relative anonymity of the Ivy League.

Greg Abbruzzese ran for 182 yards and Solomon Johnson scored from two yards out with 5:13 to play as the Lions, who had not won a game since 1983, beat Princeton 16-13 before 5,420 fans on a cold, drizzly Saturday in New York.

It was Columbia's first victory in 47 games since a 21-18 defeat of Yale on Oct. 15, 1983. Since then, Columbia had averted defeat only by tying Bucknell and Dartmouth later in 1983.

"This time, we didn't turn the ball over," coach Larry McElreavy said. "We played a football game the way it's supposed to be played."

The Lions had become the laughingstock of U.S. college football during the stretch - even on the Columbia campus. Fans unaccustomed to celebrating stormed on to the field, tore down both sets of goalposts and smeared themselves with mud at the final gun.

"It's like you're thirsty for a long time and all of a sudden you get something to drink. We've been out in the desert," said Don Kasprzak, a Columbia quarterback in the mid-1940's.

The BOSTON GLOBE:

SPORTS

NEW ENGLAND TOUCH TO COLUMBIA VICTORY

Bob Monahan, Globe Staff
241 words
10 October 1988
The Boston Globe
THIRD
50
English
(Copyright 1988)

Two New Englanders played key roles for Columbia when it snapped its 44-game losing streak with a 16-13 win over Princeton Saturday. Sophomore tailback Greg Abbruzzese of Swampscott carried 39 times for 182 yards, earning recognition as ECAC Co-Player of the Week. "You have to give the credit to the offensive line," said Abbruzzese, who gained 122 yards against Penn last week. "Those guys opened holes for me two weeks in a row and made my job easier." Quarterback Bruce Mayhew, a sophomore from Concord, N.H., directed a fine attack, hitting on 7 of 11 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. "This time we didn't worry about the things that could go wrong," said Mayhew, who made his second straight starting assignment. "We played with more confidence and intensity than we did any time this year. It was a great feeling." A third participant with New England roots also had something to say about the much-awaited victory.

When Larry McElreavy, a 1972 University of New Hampshire grad in his third season as Columbia's head coach, entered the winning locker room with the game ball in his hands and a cigar in his mouth, he was asked when he thought the streak had ended. He answered, "About four minutes after the game was over."

More from the NEW YORK TIMES:

COLLEGE FOOTBALL; On Campus, the Millenium

By SARAH LYALL
631 words
9 October 1988
The New York Times
Late City Final Edition
English
Copyright 1988 The New York Times Company. All Rights Reserved.

Game after game, season after season, they lost.

Game after game, season after season, they lost.

''I've gone through four years of losing,'' said Abigail Bedrick, a Columbia senior who had seen her college's team win nothing but notoriety during 44 consecutive defeats.

''No one knows what to do now,'' said Bernard Ravina, another student, ''because we're not used to celebrating.''

Columbia's 16-13 victory over Princeton yesterday provided a catharsis of sorts for the Columbia community, which had suffered through a losing streak that stretched back to 1983.

''By far, this is the most intense thing to happen to Columbia in at least a century,'' said Matt Weber, beginning to take it all in at the Psi Upsilon house on Columbia's fraternity row. Much of the post-game celebration was taking place on the row, five miles downtown from the site of the victory at Baker Field.

Mud-covered men paraded with the goal posts, which they had ripped down after the victory. Long strands of toilet paper were festooned through trees. Kegs of beer were untapped and bottles of champagne uncorked as elated students rushed around, blasting such songs as ''Dancing In the Streets'' and ''We Will Rock You'' from stereos.

Some of the students, long accustomed to losing, said they had never expected a victory, even in the final moments of the game. For them, it really wasn't over until it was over, when Princeton missed a long field-goal attempt on the last play of the game.

Brad McCormick, a senior defensive tackle on the team, said, ''I didn't jump in the air until the last second, because we've had too many close calls over the years.''

Mark Bandak, a freshman, said he spent yesterday afternoon simultaneously watching the Mets on television and listening to the Lions on the radio and he got a sort of double prize: the Mets scored their go-ahead run just as Columbia surged ahead of Princeton.

''I ran out into the street, screaming,'' Bandak said. ''I jumped onto the subway and made it to Baker Field for the last three seconds, just in time to see Princeton miss the field goal.''

Students said the victory was especially sweet because it had come against the Tigers, the team they were playing when they dropped their 35th consecutive game last October to set a record among Division I colleges for most losses in a row.

At Princeton, as news of Columbia's victory seeped out to a campus that had been complacent about the game, the mood was grim and the students were dejected.

''It's embarrassing,'' said David Doty, a junior.

''It's my worst sports nightmare come true,'' said Eric Crane, a senior. He attributed the defeat to ''mental mistakes'' and ''coaching problems.''

''It's like something out of the 'Twilight Zone,' '' said Paul Duwa, a senior, who had put a piece of tape over the Princeton logo on his sweatshirt and replacing it with the word 'Columbia.'

''I think I need to mourn for a while,'' he said.

Not everyone at Columbia was celebrating. Some students in the library said they were taking the long view of the game.

''Oh, did they win?'' said Gennady Kozak, a graduate student in philosophy. ''I thought it was the Mets. I heard the noise, but I didn't want to get distracted.''

He went back to his book, ''Formal Logic.''

Bill Lipton, a junior, said that there had been too much emphasis on football at his high school and that he had come to Columbia to escape through studying. ''It was a welcome relief to have a really bad football team,'' he said.


Still more from The NEW YORK TIMES:

COLLEGE FOOTBALL; Columbia Wins! That's Right, Wins!

By ALEX YANNIS
1,114 words
9 October 1988
The New York Times
Late City Final Edition
English
Copyright 1988 The New York Times Company. All Rights Reserved.

The end came for Columbia yesterday. The 44-game losing streak and the five years of no-win situations became history in the wake of a 16-13 triumph over Princeton that spread championship-like joy throughout Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at Baker Field.

The end came for Columbia yesterday. The 44-game losing streak and the five years of no-win situations became history in the wake of a 16-13 triumph over Princeton that spread championship-like joy throughout Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at Baker Field.

Solomon Johnson's 2-yard touchdown run with 5 minutes 13 seconds left provided the margin of victory for the Lions, whose last previous victory came in the fifth game of the 1983 season, the now-legendary 21-18 triumph over Yale.

After that game, the Lions tied Bucknell, lost to Holy Cross and tied Dartmouth. Then, in the next-to-last game of the 1983 season, starting with a 31-6 loss to Cornell, the defeats began to build. And build. And build. No major-college team ever lost more consecutive games.

To celebrate the end of the 44-game losing streak, several hundred students and Columbia supporters ran onto the field the moment the final whistle sounded, brought down the goal posts and carried them around the stadium.

Columbia's supporters had agonized through most of the game and particularly toward the end. Princeton missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt on the last play.

No one in the homecoming crowd of 5,420 apparently suffered more while counting down the final seconds than Larry McElreavy, who is in his third year as coach of the Lions.

When someone asked the 42-year-old McElreavy, whose record with Columbia is now 1-23, at what stage he thought his team would win, he laughed aloud and said, ''About four minutes after the game was over.''

Once he had completely digested the significance of his team's finally getting a victory, McElreavy became serious. ''This is the first concrete building block in rebuilding this program,'' he said.

McElreavy's team had shown signs of progress, particularly in last week's loss to Penn.

''It sounds simplistic,'' McElreavy said, ''but I kept saying that if we kept playing the way we did we would finally win. I kept saying we didn't want to win on hocus-pocus.''

Princeton (2-2) had taken a 10-0 lead and held a 13-9 lead after a touchdown by Kris Keys and two field goals by Chris Lutz.

Matt Less scored the first touchdown for the Lions (1-3), on a 9-yard reception from Bruce Mayhew, and Matt Pollard's 33-yard field goal provided the other points.

The biggest contributor to Columbia's victory was Greg Abbruzzese, the sophomore tailback from Swampscott, Mass. He carried the ball 37 times for 182 yards. Two sacks by Mark Zielinski, the senior defensive end from Rutherford, N.J., were crucial.

''It's great to get it against an Ivy League team,'' Zielinksi said of the victory. ''We always believed.'' Familiar Faces

Jason Garrett's 201 yards on 18 completions in 29 attempts and Judd Garrett's 22 carries for 116 yards were not enough for Princeton. The Garrett brothers are sons of Jim Garrett, who coached Columbia to an 0-10 record in 1985 in the midst of the losing streak. Both players transferred to Princeton after their father left Columbia under pressure at the end of the 1985 season.

The Garrett brothers refused to be interviewed after the game, but their coach, Steve Tosches, said Columbia was the better team and deserved the victory.

''They outplayed us,'' Tosches said. ''Their offensive line controlled our defense. Maybe it was surprising they didn't score more.''

One of biggst plays for Columbia was Zielinski's fourth-down sack of Jason Garrett on the next-to-last series for the Tigers.

When Tosches was asked why he didn't attempt a game-tying field goal from about 45 yards during the series, he said he didn't want the tie. He did go for the tie on the last play of the game but Lutz's kick was about 10 yards short. Tigers Score First

Princeton dominated early. The Tigers' first drive started at their 25 and ended with a 31-yard field goal with 7:22 gone in the first quarter for a 3-0 lead.

The drive lasted 12 plays, with Judd Garrett handling the ball seven times. The crucial plays were passes from Jason Garrett to Scott Gibbs for two first downs and a 5-yard run by Dennis Heidt for another first down.

One reason the Tigers did not complete their opening drive with a touchdown was because Jason Garrett was sacked by Zielinski for a 10-yard loss.

During Princeton's second series of plays the Tigers were hurt by a penalty and ended up punting on fourth and 29.

But they marched 50 yards in six plays the next time they had the ball and took a 10-0 lead with 9:20 left before halftime. Keys ran left for the last 3 yards.

The Lions scored their first points, on a 33-yard field goal by Pollard, on their fourth possession of the game. The drive went 47 yards in nine plays with Abbruzzesse handling the ball seven times, six times in a row.

Columbia scored a touchdown the next time it had possession, going 53 yards in eight plays. The touchdown came on Mayhew's 9-yard pass to Less. Kick Fails

But Pollard missed the point-after attempt. After a low snap from center, his kick sailed wide left. So with 21 seconds left before intermission, the Lions, as usual, were down, 10-7.

A poor punt by Princeton late in the third quarter put Columbia at the Princeton 40, but the Lions could not get closer than the 23 yard-line and Pollard's 41-yard field-goal attempt was wide left.

Princeton had even better field position on its next series. But after starting at the Columbia 37, the Tigers could muster only a 27-yard field goal by Lutz. The next score was by Columbia, the run by Johnson that ended years of misery for the Lions and their fans.

While the Lions were celebrating, Tosches summed up the feelings of the Tigers.

''This is what you dread,'' the Princeton coach said. ''Life can be very cruel.''


From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

COLUMBIA'S MEAN STREAK ENDS AT 44

Associated Press
847 words
9 October 1988
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
EDITION: LATE FIVE STAR
PAGE: 1H
English
Copyright 1988, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. All Rights Reserved.

NEW YORK (AP) - This time, Columbia wasn't the team that made the game-losing mistake.

''This time we didn't turn the ball over. We played a football game the way it's supposed to be played,'' coach Larry McElreavy said Saturday after the Lions snapped college football's longest losing streak at 44 games with a 16-13 victory over Princeton.

''This is really what you dread,'' said Princeton coach Steve Tosches, whose team was a 21-point favorite. ''Life can be cruel, but this is not the end of the world.

''We were not the better team on the field today. They deserve the victory, and my compliments to them.''

McElreavy, who won for the first time after 23 defeats, said: ''It's the first concrete building block we've put in in rebuilding the program. It's the first sign of success and we want to make sure it doesn't end here.''

McElreavy said it was ''about four minutes after the game was over'' before he realized Columbia had finally won.

''I didn't think the game was over. I was trying to keep my players off the field so we didn't get a 15-yard penalty.''

The players surged onto the field to celebrate with the 5,420 fans who braved a steady rain and temperatures in the low 40s. Both goal posts were torn down.

Solomon Johnson's 2-yard scoring run with 5 minutes 13 seconds to play provided the difference.

Greg Abbruzzese rushed for 182 yards as Columbia won for the first time in 47 games, since a 21-18 defeat of Yale on Oct. 15, 1983. Since that game, Columbia had averted defeat only by tying Bucknell and Dartmouth later in 1983.

Johnson's touchdown run capped a 53-yard drive after Princeton (2-2) had taken a 13-9 lead on Chris Lutz's field goal.

Princeton led 10-0 midway through the second quarter. Lutz kicked a 31-yard field goal in the first quarter and Kris Keys sprinted 3 yards around left end for a second-quarter touchdown.

Matt Pollard's 33-yard field goal cut the Princeton lead to 10-3, and the Lions (1-3) had a chance to tie it after Bruce Mayhew's 9-yard TD pass to tight end Matt Less just before halftime. But Pollard missed the extra point, and Princeton held a 10-9 lead at the half.

After Lutz's second field goal, a 27-yarder at 5:44 of the fourth quarter, Columbia ran into a third-and-1 situation at the Princeton 31 before Mayhew gained 7 yards on a bootleg to the left.

Abbruzzese then carried for gains of 8, 5 and 9 yards to give the Lions a second-and-goal at the Princeton 2. Johnson surged over right guard for the touchdown.

But the game was far from over, and in fact looked like loss No. 45 in a row when Princeton came back to score on Judd Garrett's 22-yard run. But the touchdown was nullifed by a clipping penalty.

After an exchange of punts, Princeton had a last chance to tie, but Lutz's 48-yard field goal attempt on the final play was short.

The victory was accomplished on Columbia's Homecoming Day, when stars of Columbia's nationall y ranked teams of the late 1940s were present to watch.

''They've got the monkey off their backs now,'' said Joe Karas, a 1949 graduate who played guard.

''It's like you're thirsty for a long time, and all of a sudden you get something to drink. We've been out in the desert,'' said Don Kasprzak, a 1947 graduate who played quarterback.

John Sharkey, a senior tackle on this year's team, said he had watched in disbelief from the sideline as Princeton's last-second, 49-yard field goal attempt fell short and wide.

''It's hard to believe that we actually achieved what we set out to do,'' Sharkey said. ''This almost makes up for all the rough times.''

Peter Altman came to the game in a Lions mascot outfit that he said two fellow graduate students had found in a trash can. He refused to claim credit for the victory, though.

''They did it themselves,'' Altman, a graduate engineering student, said.

Columbia, which had lost 33 consecutive Ivy League games, is 1-2 in the conference, while Princeton is 2-1.


More from NEWSDAY:

Lions Finally Roar After Losing 44 Straight

By John Valenti
919 words
9 October 1988
Newsday
ALL EDITIONS
02
English
(Copyright Newsday Inc., 1988)

COLUMBIA 16 PRINCETON 13

Time had barely expired when the clock operator put a message on the scoreboard. "Yeah!" it read. It was simple, to the point. No other words were necessary.

Nearby, players hugged and fell upon each other on the muddy field. Soon they were overrun by members of the crowd, who had gathered for a homecoming celebration, but probably didn't think they would witness an historic event.

Columbia, loser of 44 consecutive games and winless in its previous 47 games since a 21-18 victory at Yale on Oct. 15, 1983, actually won a game yesterday - a 16-13 decision over Princeton on a windy, rainy day at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium. Within seconds after Princeton kicker Chris Lutz' 48-yard field-goal attempt fell 10 yards short of tying the score with two seconds left, fans had scaled the south goalpost and torn it down. A few enterprising members among the crowd of 5,420 even carried away the uprights.

"I've envisioned this scenario so many times," Columbia coach Larry McElreavy told members of the media at a postgame interview session in which he appeared with a cigar and a game ball - the words "Property of Princeton University" printed on it.

He had watched as his team came back from a 10-9 halftime deficit to beat the Tigers, a team led by Jason and Judd Garrett - the sons of former Lions coach Jim Garrett, who was fired after going 0-10 in 1985 in his only season at Columbia. Last season, Princeton won, 38-8, as Columbia broke the major-college record for consecutive losses set by Northwestern, which had lost 34 straight games.

"I didn't have to say a whole lot {at halftime}," McElreavy said. "I'm not a Knute Rockne man, a fire-and-brimstone type speaker. I told them they would have to step it up a notch in the second half, that they would have to turn the screw a little bit."

Unlike previous games, when Columbia lost close ones to Lafayette, Villanova and Dartmouth, the Lions (1-3) found a way to win. They played with confidence.

"This time," sophomore quarterback Bruce Mayhew said, "we didn't worry that things would go wrong." Still, it was not without some anxious moments for Columbia, which last won at home in 1982 when it defeated Princeton, 35-14. The Lions had not won in 16 previous games at Wien Stadium.

Trailing 10-9 early in the fourth quarter, Princeton got the ball at the Columbia 37 following a punt with 11:04 left. But on second-and-7 from the 10, a pass from Jason Garrett to tight end Mark Rockefeller, the son of the former vice president, was broken up by John DeSimone. Garrett, a senior who transferred from Columbia following the dismissal of his father, threw the ball away on third down and the Tigers (2-2) settled for a 27-yard field goal.

Columbia, behind the running of sophomore tailback Greg Abbruzzese (game-high 182 yards on 37 carries), came back. It went 53 yards on 10 plays, with Solomon Johnson scoring from the 1 with 5:13 left.

So many times before, Jason and Judd Garrett had mastered come-from-behind drives that led to victory. But a 22-yard touchdown run by Judd, who gained 114 yards on 22 carries, was nullified by a clipping penalty with 3:59 left. And on fourth-and-7 from the Columbia 27, McElreavy called a play known as "50 Blood End Smash." Jason Garrett, who went 18-for-29 for 201 yards under pressure all day, was dropped for an 8-yard loss with 3:28 left on a blind-side sack by Mark Zielinski.

"I came in and nobody blocked me at all," said Zielinski, who had 10 tackles and two sacks. "There have been so many times when we have felt like the world was against us. It was nice to have it go our way." McElreavy said: "It was one of those chess moves. God knows how many times we have called the wrong play in that situation. This time it worked."

Princeton had a final chance. It moved from its own 29-yard line to the Lions' 34 with the help of an 11-yard run by Jason Garrett, a 15-yard penalty for a late hit and an 11-yard pass from Jason Garrett to his brother. The Lions held and forced the field-goal attempt.

"We did not win the football game, we were not the better team," said Princeton coach Steve Tosches, whose team outgained the Lions 345 to 274 in total yardage, but could not move the ball when it needed to. "They were the better team today."

In the locker room Columbia players were busily enjoying their new-found success. Two previous classes had graduated without a victory. And so the senior class led a chorus of "Roar, Lions Roar."

McElreavy, meanwhile, sat and stared in almost disbelief that his team, which had gone 0-23 since his arrival at Columbia before the 1986 season, had won. "We'll let them celebrate this one until midnight, but then they'll have to concentrate on next week," he said. Then he reconsidered. "Maybe we'll let the celebration slide over to twelve-oh-five."


Still more from Newsday:

It's All Over! Big occasion for cheers and tears

John Valenti
566 words
9 October 1988
Newsday
ALL EDITIONS
02
English
(Copyright Newsday Inc., 1988)

The cheerleaders were stunned. And for a moment members of the Columbia football team, which had not won in 47 previous games - including all 16 at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium - did not seem sure how to react.

In fact, it had been so long since Columbia won a game that school president Michael I. Sovern had trouble finding the team locker room after the game. When he did, long after Columbia had defeated Princeton, 16-13, yesterday at Baker Field, Sovern told the team: "I may not have been here when Columbia won the Rose Bowl, but I don't think Columbia has ever had a better victory."

He may have been right. While the Lions used the famous play "KF79" to score a 7-0 win over Stanford in the 1934 Rose Bowl, Columbia yesterday used a play known as "50 Blood End Smash" to sack Princeton quarterback Jason Garrett on a crucial fourth-down play in the fourth quarter. The play, a sack by Mark Zielinski, enabled Columbia to defeat the Tigers before a crowd of 5,420 - many of them gathered for a homecoming ceremony that honored Lions teams from 1945-48, "The Golden Age of Columbia Football."

"Every alumni I saw in the stands were crying," said Roger Lehecka, dean of students. Said Matt Sodl, a lineman who graduated after last season: "I never thought this would happen. I even started crying. What a feeling. It lifts a burden off my shoulders."

The Lions had not won since a 21-18 decision at Yale on Oct. 15, 1983. They had lost 44 consecutive games since, a major-college record and seven short of the all-division record 50 consecutive losses - set by Division III Macalester of St. Paul, Minn., from 1974-80.

In an ironic twist, the victory came against Princeton, led by Jason and Judd Garrett, sons of former Columbia coach Jim Garrett who once called his players "drug-addicted losers," a reference to their addiction to losing. Last season, Princeton had beaten Columbia, 38-8, in a game in which the Lions broke the major-college record of 34 consecutive losses.

Like their teammates, neither Jason Garrett, the quarterback, and Judd, the halfback, would discuss the loss. "They bolted after the game," said Columbia linebacker John Alex, the team captain and a former teammate of both when they played at Columbia.

Columbia fans, many of them friends and family members, gathered outside the fieldhouse long after the game to sing and shout and cheer in a long-winded celebration that saw champagne corks fly and people scale a statue of a lion.

Al Paul, the Columbia athletic director, smoked a victory cigar. Coach Larry McElreavy held a game ball marked: "Property of Princeton University."

"Somebody stuck it in my arms," he said. "I don't think if I keep it it will break Princeton's budget, believe me."

By nightfall, the parties had begun on campus. "My parents are in town, so I don't know if they'll cut me lose to celebrate," Alex said. "I hope they will. I'm kind of nervous. I don't know if campus will be safe tonight."


The Dallas Morning News:

COLUMBIA TASTES VICTORY AFTER 44-GAME DROUGHT

From Wire Reports
629 words
9 October 1988
The Dallas Morning News
Home Final
12b
English
(Copyright 1988)

NEW YORK -- The end came for Columbia on Saturday. The 44-game losing streak, the five years of no-win situations all became history in the wake of a 16-13 triumph over Princeton that stirred championship-like joy throughout Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at Baker Field.

Solomon Johnson's two-yard touchdown run with 5:13 remaining provided the margin of victory for the Lions, whose last victory came in the fifth game of the 1983 season, a 21-18 triumph over Yale.

After that game, the Lions tied Bucknell, lost to Holy Cross and tied Dartmouth. Then, in the next-to-last game of the 1983 season, starting with a 31-6 loss to Cornell, the defeats began to build. And build. And build. No major college team ever lost more consecutive games.

To celebrate the end of the losing streak, several hundred students and Columbia supporters poured onto the field, brought down the goal posts and carried them around the stadium.

Columbia's supporters had agonized most of the afternoon and particularly toward the end, when Princeton missed a 48-yard field goal on the last play.

"It's the first concrete building block we've put in in rebuilding the program,' said Lions coach Larry McElreavy, who won for the first time after 23 defeats. "It's the first sign of success, and we sure hope it doesn't end here.'

McElreavy said it was "about four minutes after the game was over' before he realized Columbia (1-3, 1-2) had finally won.

"I didn't think the game was over,' he said. "I was trying to keep my players off the field so we didn't get a penalty.'

Princeton (2-2, 1-1) had taken a 10-0 lead and held a 13-9 lead after a touchdown by Kris Keys and two field goals by Chris Lutz.

Matt Less scored Columbia's first touchdown, and Matt Pollard's 33-yard field goal provided the difference for the Lions, who were led by Greg Abbruzzese's 182 yards rushing.

"This is really what you dread,' Princeton coach Steve Tosches said. "Life can be cruel, but this is not the end of the world. We were not the better team on the field today. They deserve the victory and my compliments to them.'

Columbia, a Division I-AA team, broke the Division I record of 34 straight defeats set by Northwestern. The only losing streak longer than Columbia's 44 was 50 by Macalester (Minn.) College, a Division III school that did not win from 1974-80.

Jason Garrett passed for 201 yards and Judd Garrett rushed for 116 yards for Princeton, but it was not enough. The Garretts are the sons of Jim Garrett, who was head coach at Columbia in 1985.

The Lions had a touchdown called back on their first series. Matt Fox caught a pass at midfield and ran into the end zone, but officials ruled Fox stepped out of bounds before he caught the ball.

Princeton started its first series at its 25-yard line and ended the drive with a 31-yard field goal by Chris Lutz with 7:22 gone in the opening quarter for a a 3-0 lead.

The Tigers took a 10-0 lead when Keys ran the last three yards for a touchdown 9:20 before halftime.

The Lions scored their first points on a 33-yard field goal by Pollard on their fourth possession.


More from The Chicago Tribune:

COLUMBIA FINALLY FINDS A WAY TO WIN

Chicago Tribune wires
433 words
9 October 1988
Chicago Tribune
FINAL EDITION; C
5
English
(Copyright 1988)

Columbia finally came up with the big play to snap the longest losing streak in Division I history. Solomon Johnson's 2-yard touchdown run with 5 minutes 13 seconds left gave the Lions a 16-13 victory Saturday over Princeton, breaking Columbia's 44-game losing streak.

Greg Abbruzzese rushed for 182 yards as Columbia won for the first time since a 21-18 triumph over Yale Oct. 15, 1983. Since that game, the best Columbia (1-3, 1-2) could do were ties with Bucknell and Dartmouth in 1983. The Lions had lost 33 straight Ivy League games.

The only losing streak longer than Columbia's was 50 by Macalester, a Division III school in St. Paul, which didn't win from 1974 to 1980.

"This time we didn't turn the ball over," said Columbia coach Larry McElreay, who had suffered through 23 of the defeats.

McElreavy said it was "about four minutes after the game was over" before he realized Columbia had finally won.

"I didn't think the game was over. I was trying to keep my players off the field so we didn't get a 15-yard penalty."

Johnson's touchdown run capped a 53-yard drive after Princeton (2-2, 1-1) had taken a 13-9 lead on a Chris Lutz field goal. Lutz was short with a 49- yard attempt as time expired.

"This almost makes up for all the rough times," said Columbia tackle John Sharkey.

"This is really what you dread," Princeton coach Steve Tosches said. "Life can be cruel, but this is not the end of the world."

The Columbia players surged onto the field to celebrate with the 5,420 fans who braved a steady rain and temperatures in the low 40s. Both goal posts were torn down.

The anarchic Columbia marching band joined the pileup on the field, complete with sousaphone, trumpets, flutes and drums. Band members massed outside later, chanting against Princeton and dangling from the open jaws of Columbia's bronze lion statue.

The victory came on Columbia's Homecoming Day, when stars of the Lions' nationally ranked teams of the late 1940s were present to watch.

"It's like you're thirsty for a long time and all of a sudden you get something to drink. We've been out in the desert," said Don Kasprzak, a 1947 graduate who played quarterback.

"It's a bad reason to catch pneumonia," said Princeton fan Chris Marquardt. "We're very cold, very wet and very disappointed."

The Washington Post:

Columbia Ends Losing Streak At 44 Games

Associated Press
271 words
9 October 1988
The Washington Post
FINAL
l01
English
(Copyright 1988)

Columbia football fans tore down both goal posts, smeared themselves with mud and exulted in the cold and damp today after the Lions ended a five-year, 44-game losing streak with a 16-13 victory over Princeton.

"Wonderful," said fan Lenny Reh-ner. "It's wonderful. "We've been waiting a long time."

Solomon Johnson's two-yard scoring run with 5:13 proved the game-winner, the first such distinction for Columbia since the team defeated Yale, 21-18, on Oct. 15, 1983. Since that game, the Lions had averted defeat only by tying Bucknell and Dartmouth in 1983.

Johnson's touchdown run capped a 53-yard drive after Princeton (2-2) had taken a 13-9 lead on a Chris Lutz field goal.

Princeton led, 10-0, midway through the second quarter. Lutz kicked a 31-yard field goal in the first quarter and Kris Keys sprinted three yards around left end for a second-quarter touchdown.

Matt Pollard's 33-yard field goal cut the Princeton lead to 10-3 and the Lions (1-3) scored on Bruce Mayhew's nine-yard pass to tight end Matt Less just before halftime. But Pollard missed the extra point and Princeton held a 10-9 lead at the half.

After Lutz's second field goal, a 27-yarder at 5:44 of the fourth quarter, Columbia ran into a third-and-one situation at the Princeton 31 before Mayhew gained seven yards on a bootleg to the left.

Columbia's Greg Abbruzzese rushed for 182 yards in the game.

From The Seattle Times:

FINALLY! COLUMBIA'S FIVE-YEAR, 44-GAME LOSING STREAK ENDS

AP
440 words
9 October 1988
The Seattle Times
SUNDAY
C10
English
(Copyright 1988)

NEW YORK - This time, Columbia wasn't the team that made the game-losing mistake.

``This time we didn't turn the ball over. We played a football game the way it's supposed to be played,'' Coach Larry McElreavy said yesterday after the Lions snapped college football's longest losing streak at 44 games with a 16-13 victory over Princeton.

The only losing streak longer than Columbia's 44 was 50 by Macalester College, a Division III school in St. Paul, Minn., which did not win from 1974 to 1980. Columbia is a Division I-AA school.

``This is really what you dread,'' said Princeton Coach Steve Tosches, whose team fell to 2-2. ``Life can be cruel, but this is not the end of the world. We were not the better team on the field today. They deserve the victory and my compliments to them.''

``It's the first concrete building block we've put in in rebuilding the program,'' said McElreavy, who won for the first time after 23 defeats. ``It's the first sign of success and we sure hope it doesn't end here.''

McElreavy said it was ``about four minutes after the game was over'' before he realized Columbia (1-3) had finally won.

``I didn't think the game was over. I was trying to keep my players off the field so we didn't get a 15-yard penalty.''

The players surged onto the field to celebrate with the 5,420 fans who braved a steady rain and temperatures in the low 40s. Both goal posts were torn down.

Solomon Johnson's 2-yard scoring run with 5:13 to play provided the difference.

Greg Abbruzzese rushed for 182 yards as Columbia won for the first time in 47 games, since a 21-18 defeat of Yale on Oct. 15, 1983. Since that game, Columbia had averted defeat only by tying Bucknell and Dartmouth later in 1983.

``I'm feeling a little faint,'' agreed Charles Fornara, a 1986 graduate who had never seen his team win.

The victory came on Columbia's Homecoming Day, when stars of Columbia's nationally ranked teams of the late 1940s were present to watch.

``It's like you're thirsty for a long time and all of a sudden you get something to drink. We've been out in the desert,'' said Don Kasprzak, a 1947 graduate who played quarterback.

``This I'm going to keep a long time,'' said Michael Talley, a Brooklyn resident, producing the stub of his ticket.

3 Comments:

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At Sat Oct 29, 06:19:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous ezra said...

I was in my senior year of prep school at the time. I was sitting in my dorm's basement, watching the Mets pull out the game against the Dodgers (oh the missed opportunity of that series!) when they followed the Mets broadcast with the update about Columbia. I was furious--I was scheduled to visit CU the following weekend!

Couldn't they have waited just one more week?

 
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