15 Minutes of Hell
Yale 37 Columbia 3
Yale took a 3-0 deficit at the start of the 2nd quarter and 15 minutes later, they were trotting into the locker room with a 31-3 lead! How did it happen? The same way Columbia has been losing games all season; weaknesses on offense and defense feeding off each other in a snowballing way.
The Lions actually looked good at the start. They quickly got into scoring range on their first possession after a 51-yard Hormann to Bowser bomb. But with 3rd and 1 at the Yale 3, Hormann was stopped for no gain on a QB sneak. To most of us in the stands, it looked like a terrible spot, and the start of many tough calls against us. CU had to settle for John Rocholl chip-shot, (a rarity this year as most of his FG's have been long ones), and 3-0 lead. Rocholl is now 11 of 13 this season and is closing in on the Columbia single-season field goal record of 13. He's just a freshman.
After that FG, Columbia should have gotten a turnover after Yale's WR fumbled the ball around midfield, but the refs called it an incomplete pass VERY late. It was the oddest call, because there was no signal or whistle after the Yale receiver caught the ball and fell down. The refs were acting as if the play was dead because the receiver was down. Then when it was obvious the CU defender had the ball, they called it incomplete. It was as if the ref said to himself: "what call can I make that's best for Yale?"
CU got the ball back, but then started to turn the ball over at an alarming clip. I think we had 5 turnovers in the first half alone. Yale used the pass and the run to mow us down in the 2nd quarter, and the Columbia offense kept the bleeding going by turning the ball over again and again. Yale's QB Jeff Mroz was particularly impressive with his throws. He's not a bad-sized guy, so I wonder if he has NFL potential.
The only highlights of the rest of the game were some good runs by junior tailback James Cobb. He broke a 50-yarder and a 28-yarder en route to 127 total yards for the day on 20 carries. I sat behind Cobb's mom during the Fordham game, and she was very nice. I hope James gets more carries in the coming games and improves enough to be a factor next year.
As far as my own experience at the game, I had to leave my daughter with a sitter because she was still getting over a cold. I went with my neighbor, and despite horrific traffic, we actually made it in time for the opening kickoff. The crowd was light, announced at only 2,000. I was bummed at halftime when I didn't win the iPod for successfully choosing the name for the new Lion mascot, Roar-EE. But overall, it was still a nice day. If Columbia could start winning, I guess I'd have a glorious time.
This coming Saturday Harvard comes into Wien Stadium. The Crimson are not as fearsome as they have been in the past. But they demolished Dartmouth 42-14 last week and we lost to Dartmouth. Clifton Dawson is a legitimate threat to run for more than 200 yards against us, so this is going to be tough. But if we can somehow stop Dawson, the game could actually be close as Harvard's defense has really been suspect this season. I don't count on it though; you have to favor Harvard by 21 points at least.
So goes another disappointing CU season, but this could all look okay if in two or three years these young Columbia players morph into a top team. I keep hoping this squad will be like the 1983 N.Y. Giants who went 3-12-1 with a core of players who would win the Super Bowl 3 years later. Columbia had to cancel it's J.V. season because of so few available players, but you could argue that this year's varsity is a J.V. team. And as bad as that sounds, at least Columbia will have some very experienced players in the years ahead.