Game #8: Blustery and Beautiful
Prosper prospered against Schires and the Crimson
(Sorry, for the delay. We now resume the Top 10 Columbia games of the 2000's, regulary scheduled for Tuesday)
Columbia 16 Harvard 13
November 8, 2003
For the first six weeks of the 2003 season, Harvard had looked unstoppable. But a stunning loss in week 7 against Dartmouth set the stage for another upset at the hands of the Lions at a cold and blustery Wien Stadium.
To be fair, Harvard was without the services of starting QB and future NFLer Ryan Fitzpatrick. But even with Garrett Schires taking his place, the Crimson were heavy favorites.
Columbia hadn't won a game that season since its shocking 33-27 Hail Mary win over Princeton in week 3. But the defense was more than ready for the challenge from Schires and a freshman sensation at running back named Clifton Dawson.
Columbia scored first on a 66-yard drive capped off by a one-yard run by Ayo Oluwole, but the extra point was no good.
Harvard tied it late in the first after a Jeff Otis interception set up the Crimson on the Lion 45. Harvard missed the extra point as well and it was 6-6 at the end of the first quarter.
The Crimson made it 13-6 after they recovered a Lion fumble on the Columbia 19 and ran it in three plays later. That's how it stood at the half.
The two teams couldn't get much going in the second half until the Lions put together a 90-yard drive that finally stalled at the Harvard 1. The Lions elected to go for the short field goal on 4th down and it was 13-9 going into the fourth quarter.
Again, the defenses took control and it didn't look like Columbia would get its chance to comeback. But with just about five minutes to play, the Crimson faced a 3rd and 6 from the Columbia 41. Schires and Harvard elected to throw and sophomore defensive back Prosper Nwokocha made them pay. He stepped in front of the pass and returned it to the Harvard 45. Three plays later, Otis found Zach Van Zant for a 10-yard TD pass and the 16-13 lead.
Nwokocha iced the game himself with another interception on Harvard's ensuing possession.
This game still stands out now because of a number of things:
-It would be the only Lion win over the Crimson for the decade.
-It was on national TV on the YES Network.
-Clifton Dawson showed much of the talent that would lead him to breaking Ed Marinaro's all-time Ivy rushing record. But in the end, Columbia contained him at the key moments.
-Jeff Otis kept fighting back despite getting hit brutally all day by the Harvard defenders.
-It was a coming out party for Prosper Nwokocha, who went on to become a team captain.