Running Up The Score
Lou Little's team played like giants in 1946
Game of the Day (Day 24)
November 23, 1946
Columbia 59 Syracuse 21
1946 wasn't the easiest year in American history. It was the first full year after the war, but economic hardships and the scars of the war were still evident. In New York, a serious housing crisis was in full swing leaving hundreds of thousands of returning G.I.'s looking for some elbow room.
One part of the city that was especially crowded was Baker Field, where big attendance numbers were the norm that season. And more than 30,000 fans showed up on a very cold November day for the season finale pitting in-state rivals Columbia and Syracuse.
Columbia was in the middle of a very successful three-year run from 1945-1947 that would see the team go 21-6 during that span. After crushing Lafayette 46-0 the week before, the Lions were looking to finish the year on a high note.
But the game began in sloppy fashion as Gene Rossides muffed a punt return and Syracuse recovered on the Columbia 32. It only took five plays for the Orangemen to take full advantage. Rossides' old Erasmus Hall High School teammate Joe Watt caught an 18-yard TD pass for the touchdown and it was 7-0 Syracuse.
Columbia's great runner Lou Kusserow capped off a 77-yard drive after the Syracuse score and went in with an 18-yard run to make it 7-6, but the PAT attempt was no good.
Syracuse made it 14-6 on their next possession on a shorter 58-yard drive and it looked like it would be a long day for the Lions.
But Rossides, Kuserow, and some ends named Bill Swiacki and Bill Olson started rolling after that. Rossides got it started with a 31-yard TD pass to Olson and it was 14-13. Rossides set up the next score with a 36-yard pass to Swiacki before the young QB ran it in himself from the 9 to make it 19-14. It was 25-14 at the half after Don Kasprzak found Swiacki in the end zone from eleven yards out.
Columbia kept it going in the third quarter with three more TD's, a 24-yard TD pass from Rossides to Kusserow, a 29-yard TD run by Olson, and 21-yard TD catch by Olson from a pass by John Nork.
Rossides iced the game with an interception and a 56-yard return after the pickoff, setting up a 5-yard TD run by Bob Lincoln.
The Lions have not scored so many points in one game since.
Columbia finished the season 6-3, the worst single year in that three year span of 1945, '46 and '47, but the team was still impressive. The record 158,000 people who came out to see the Lions at home that season would agree.