Goal Line Grand
The defense put the offense on its backs for a big win (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyars)
Columbia 17 Cornell 7
Why Columbia Won
The defense was dominant, limiting Cornell to just 48 yards rushing and somehow holding the Big Red to just 7 points on 376 yards passing. The four interceptions of Cornell QB Nathan Ford, along with four sacks sealed the deal.
Why Cornell Lost
Other than one stage of the game late in the second quarter, the Big Red offense wasn't consistent. After making an adjustment to stop the strong early Lion rushing attack, the Big Red had no more answers when Columbia readjusted and moved the ball well on the ground again in the late second half.
Key Turning Points
1) With the game tied at 7-7 and less than a minute to go, Cornell had a 1st and goal at the Lion 3. After an incomplete pass, the Big Red tried three straight Nathan Ford rushes and couldn't get it in the end zone. The Lions took over on downs and were able to preserve the tie going into the locker room.
2) After Columbia squandered is first two possessions of the second half that started inside Big Red territory, Cornell started a drive on their own 20 and began to move. One first down from the Columbia 45, Calvin Otis made a great play to intercept a Ford pass and the Lions got the ball at their own 22.
3) Columbia's ensuing drive stalled at the Cornell 30, but Jon Rocholl convinced the coaches to let him try a 47-yard field goal against the wind. The kick sailed through and the Lions had a 10-7 lead with a little more than two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
4) The game hit another lull until midway through the fourth quarter when Austin Knowlin reversed his field 3-4 times, broke 5-6 tackles and sprinted into the south end zone with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown. That made it 17-7 and the Lions defense made it stand up.
-Knowlin's TD was foreshadowed earlier in the game, when he reversed his field twice on a busted reverse play that should have gone for a five yard loss but ended up as a seven yard gain.
-The Lions offense squandered some golden opportunities, but it avoided the big mistake and did not turn the ball over once in the game.
-Lou Miller had another stellar game, with three tackles for a loss including a sack. How they keep him off the All Ivy first-team defense will be beyond me if he indeed doesn't get that honor at season's end.
-M.A. Olawale had a solid day, making a number of great running plays and avoiding any bad throws. This was the first game that he started wire to wire, and he did not seem to tire out at all.
-Alex Gross had an incredible 15 tackles, including one sack and an interception. He should be the Ivy League's leading tackler when the stats come out Monday. He too, deserves to be on the All Ivy first team.
-The Cornell offense never got deeper than the Columbia 39 yard line throughout the second half.