Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Anchors Away

Navy's Thompson Field, as it appeared in the 1940's

Game of the Day (Day 53)

October 4, 1947

Columbia 13 Navy 6

The year 1947 is most famous in Columbia history for the shocking win over Army in the middle of the season. But the Lions also defeated Navy earlier in the year for a rare service academy sweep.

It wasn't easy. While Army came in to Baker Field later that year with a record streak without a loss, Navy hosted Columbia at Thompson Field while the Midshipmen were in the midst of a victory draught as they hadn't won since the 1946 season opener.

The Lions broke out of the gate looking like they would make it a rout. They sustained drives to the Midshipmen 20, 7 and 13-yard lines to start the game, but could not score each time. The third drive ended when Navy recovered a Columbia turnover at the one-foot line.

That's when the Lions finally got burned. Navy put together a drive of its own after that turnover and capped it off with a 55-yard TD run by "Wild Bill" Hawkins and a 6-0 lead.

Columbia woke up after that as they took the ensuing kickoff and then put together a 65-yard TD drive highlighted by a 38-yard pass to Bill Swiacki from Lou Kuserow before Kuserow took it in himself from the three.

Columbia missed the extra point as well, so it was 6-6 at the half. The sports reporters at the game guessed Lions coach Lou Little really chewed out his team during halftime, because they came out looking much sharper in the third quarter.

A perfect punt by Lion kicker Bob Russell pinned the Midshipmen at their own six, and they immediately punted it back to the Lions who took over at the Navy 42. Then Kuserow took matters into his own hands. He took a pitchout to the left and then pulled up and threw to Bruce Gehrke streaking into the end zone for the score. This time the PAT was good and Columbia had the 13-6 win.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Midshipmen threatened with a drive that got them as close as the Columbia three. But on 4th and goal, the Lions defense pushed the Navy runner back to the five and the threat was over.


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