Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rained Out

Don Jackson, center, still looks pretty young today

Game of the Day (Day 69)

October 7, 1972

Columbia 0 Princeton 0

Between Columbia's 32-7 win over the Tigers at Palmer Stadium in 1945 and the Lions win over Princeton at the new Princeton Stadium in 2003, Columbia was winless at Princeton. Most of the games weren't even close, but there was one tie.

It happened in 1972 after a huge rainstorm left the field a sloppy mess. The Lions were riding high after an exhiliarating 1971 season that had many picking Columbia to win the Ivy title behind QB Don Jackson, defensive superstar Paul Kaliades, and many others.

In week one, the Lions seemed to be able to live up to the hype with a 44-0 thrashing of Fordham, (then basically a Division III team), at Baker Field. But Princeton was looking good too, having defeated Rutgers 7-6.

Both teams threatened to score in the first half, but the best chance either team had to get on the board came in the third quarter when the Lions had a 2nd and goal at the Princeton 1. Two plunges, one by George Georges and another by Steve Howland failed and Jackson's 4th down pass was intercepted by Princeton's Jim Stephens who seemed to have a clear path to the end zone before Howland somehow caught up with him to make the tackle at the Columbia 26.

Jackson and the Lions got one more chance in the last minutes when the QB completed five straight passes to get Columbia from its own 31 to the Tiger 5. But a penalty pushed them back to the 16 and Kaliades field goal went wide.

The loss sent the Lions into a tailspin they couldn't get out of until they shut out Cornell 14-0 at home in week 6. When I interviewed Don Jackson last season I asked him about the 1972 season, and he told me he thought the team just couldn't handle the high expectations. He said he guessed, "the air up there was a little too thin."

I suppose there is something to be said for the element of surprise.


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