Saturday, August 23, 2008

Games of the Day (Day 28 & 27)

Archie Roberts often ripped out the hearts of the competition on the football field, now he works to keep the players' hearts healthy

(I'm off to Hershey Park and the Hershey Lodge this weekend, (please don't rescue me if I get stranded there), so I need to get my games of the day in now).

Game of the Day (Day 28)

November 16, 1963

Columbia 33 Penn 8

Two weeks before his remarkable performance against Rutgers, Archie Roberts lit things up at Baker Field versus Penn to close out the home schedule.

Things started well for Penn as the Quakers mounted a good drive after the opening kickoff, but Al Butts intercepted a Penn pass at the Columbia 13.

Both teams then got into a pattern of trading punts, (one kick by Roberts landed dead at the Penn 6), before the Lions finally took over at the Quaker 49 and moved quickly down the field. Roberts hit Bob Donahue for a seven yard pass for the TD and a 7-0 lead.

On the other side of the ball, Donahue forced the Penn QB to fumble and he recovered at the Quaker 18. A few plays later, Roberts tossed a short TD to Jerry Hug for the 14-0 advantage.

Penn answered with a 62-yard drive and a two point conversion to make it 14-8 and it looked like it would be a tight game from then on.

But it wasn't.

After a Lion punt, the Quakers fumbled the ball back to Columbia at their own 35. The Lions moved the ball 12 yards more to the Penn 23 before sending in the field goal unit. That was a surprising development because Columbia hadn't successfully converted a field goal all year, (something that really caused their bitter 7-6 loss to Princeton a few weeks before), but John Bashaar finally made his first kick after 13 previous misses and it was 17-8 at the half.

The third quarter was scoreless, but in the early moments of the final quarter Roberts provided some big-time excitement.

He hit Donahue with a 41-yard pass to set up a play where he carried it into the end zone himself from nine yards out for the TD. Then hit Donahue for the two pointer and it was 25-8.

A couple of minutes later, Roberts lined up for a punt, but threw the ball instead for a 49-yard touchdown. Archie faked a pass and ran it in for another conversion and the scoring was over.

Roberts was a perfect 9 for his first 9 passes and finished 12 of 15 for 174 yards. He also ran 12 times for 55 yards and punted for an average of 39.1 yards per kick.

And by the end of the game he had set the Ivy League record for passing yards after just two seasons and 14 games. He broke the old record set by fellow Columbian Tom Vasell over three seasons. Roberts had already broken the Ivy career record for completions two weeks earlier.

Miracle in the Rain

Game of the Day (Day 27)

November 3, 1962

Columbia 25 Cornell 21

Archie Roberts didn't have too many opportunities to pull games out at the final gun, but as a young sophomore he did just that at a rainy Baker Field in late 1962.

Cornell dominated at first, jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter before the 19-year-old Roberts got used to throwing the wet ball.

Big Red QB Gary Wood looked like he would be the star after scoring the TD on a short run and then connecting for a 52-yard TD for the second score. Legendary kicker Peter Gogolak was perfect on the two PAT's.

Harry Hersh capped off a decent Columbia drive after that with a short TD run, but the two point conversion failed, and Cornell looked in control with the 14-6 halftime lead.

It looked even better for the Big Red after another TD made it 21-6 early in the third.

But then the turning point happened, Cornell fumbled a Roberts punt and Hersh picked it up at the Columbia 38. The Lions finally scored on another short Hersh run on that drive and it was 21-12.

In the fourth quarter, Hersh showed off his skill as a receiver, grabbing a 55-yard pass from Roberts that set up the Lions' third TD, (which Hersh scored on a nine yard run), and made it 21-19.

But the Big Red defense stiffened after that and the Lions had to settle for one last chance with 2:16 left to go and the ball on their own 16 yard line.

Roberts was ready. He hit Harvey Rubin with two straight passes and then found Robert Nelson for another completion. Cornell then went into a prevent defense, and Roberts burned them with a nice underneath pass to Tom O'Connor that put the Lions on the Big Red 24. The next play was an incomplete pass, but with 19 seconds left Roberts found Al Butts with a defender all over him in the end zone for the winning TD, (in fact a pass interference flag was thrown on the play before Butts made the grab).

Cornell's last ditch Hail Mary pass after the kickoff was batted down by Roberts himself as time ran out.

The legend of Archie Roberts was born.


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