Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Burn Baby Burn!

Get Back to Class!

Game of the Day (Day 52)

September 28, 1968

Lafayette 36 Columbia 14

I can't even imagine what it must have been like to play for the 1968 Columbia football team. Just four months after the terrible riots that almost destroyed the school, the football team suited up for a home opener against Lafayette.

Perhaps the team won just by showing up after all that turmoil. Of course, the athletes were in the thick of the riots, as many of them opposed the protesters and worked to protect the school from being burned down.

Columbia was also without newly-retired Head Coach Aldo "Buff" Donelli and was being guided by new coach Frank Navarro.

Leading the team on the field was the great Marty Domres '69, who will be inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame this fall. But Domres had a rough first half, completing just one of 10 passes.

The teams were scoreless in the 1st quarter, but Lafayette quickly got on the board in the 2nd with a 34-yard TD pass. The Leopards made it 14-0 when Bob Donofrio returned a Lion punt 94 yards for another score.

The halftime intermission was the scene for one of the most bizarre moments in Baker Field history. The Leopards came out of the lockeroom early and began an impromptu workout drill on the field. By contrast, the Lions were late getting back on the field and were assessed a 15-yard delay of game penalty.

When play did resume, Lafayette tailback Bob Zimmers picked up where he left off. He scored on a one-yard run to make it 20-0. Zimmers would finish the day with 162 yards on 29 carries.

Then Domres woke up and led the Lions on a 70-yard drive that he capped off himself with a 13-yard TD run. He even tossed the football into the stands to celebrate.

But it wasn't a game-changer as the Leopards finished off the win and sent the crowd of 7,441 home unhappy.

But perhaps they were happy enough to be at a Columbia event that didn't require the police to come break it up.

Inexplicably, 40 years after the riots the ringleaders of that immature spate of adolescent angst have been honored by the University. Meanwhile, the athletes who tried to protect the institution have been mostly forgotten.

But not here...


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