Schoelkopf Field with its new Fieldturf
Every year, I make the case that Cornell is really our truest, purest, Ivy rival.
And most every year, the game on the field proves my point even more.
Yes, Cornell and Columbia are very different campuses in very different areas.
But they are both in New York state and for the last 25 years or so, their football fortunes have been quite similar.
In fact, the previous 20 Columbia-Cornell football games have been split right down the middle. 10 Columbia wins, 10 Cornell wins. Four of those Columbia wins have been in Ithaca, four of those Cornell wins have been at Wien Stadium.
Also, Cornell has been Columbia's most played rival. This Saturday's game will be the 98th meeting. (Is it too early to book Yankee Stadium for the 100th game in 2011? That would be fun).
And as Columbia's Ivy rivalries go, the Lions 33-61-3 all-time record against the Big Red is one of the least one-sided.
Sadly, other than bragging rights to in-state Ivy supremacy, it appears this year's winner will only be able to boast about staying out of the Ivy cellar for 2009.
But consider the alternative.
Getting back to the rivalry... there have been dozens of crucial and exciting Lion-Big Red games over the years. Here are 10 of the most memorable:1971: Cornell 24 Columbia 21
For sheer history, this game has few equals.
The 1971 Lion squad was led by Stuyvesant High School grad Don Jackson '73,
a 3-year starter who was a junior that season. Jackson's running and passing stats don't jump out as being very impressive now, but anyone who saw him play from 1970-72 will tell you how exciting he was.
And anyone who watched that 1971 season from wire-to-wire will tell you just how much they've had to spend on heart medication ever since. The Lions went 6-3 that year with only two games decided by more than 3 points! They also finished second in the Ivies behind the Ed Marinaro-powered Cornell Big Red, who barely beat Columbia 24-21 in a barn burner game up in Ithaca. Most people remember that game as the contest where Marinaro broke the all-time collegiate rushing record and later passed the 4,000-yard mark for his career. But it was a back-and-forth game that wasn't decided until the final moments. It was seen by the biggest crowd at Schoelkopf Field in 20 years... and I would assume the biggest since.
Here's a snippet from Time Magazine's coverage of the game: Significant Gain. For sheer grind-it-out glory, though, the Year of the Runner belongs to Cornell's Ed Marinaro. Though he ran for more than 200 yds. in three of the season's first five games, the brawny (6 ft. 21 in., 214 Ibs.) tailback made his most significant gain against Columbia in the Big Red's sixth game. It was a routine 3-yd. plunge in the first quarter, but it bettered by 2 yds. the career rushing record of 3,867 yds. set by 1969 Heisman Trophy Winner Steve Owens at Oklahoma. Two quarters and 132 yds. later, the Big Red's machine became the first ball carrier in major-college history to top 4,000 yds. Then, with the score tied 21-21 and the ball on Cornell's 32-yd. line, Marinaro chewed out 44 more yds. on nine straight runs to set up a field-goal attempt by Place Kicker John Killian. Killian's 37-yd. boot gave unbeaten Cornell a 24-21 victory and capped a remarkable 272-yd. performance by Marinaro. 1950 and 1951: Close Shaves
Lou Little's 1950 and 1951 Lions were a scrappy bunch that won nine of 17 games in that two year span. Two of those wins were one-point squeakers against the Big Red, 20-19 at Baker Field in 1950 and 21-20 at Schoelkopf Field in 1951.
In the 1950 game, the heavily favored Big Red took a 19-13 lead on a touchdown with 12:31 left in the 4th quarter, but the Lions blocked the extra point and then grabbed a Cornell fumble four minutes later at the opponents' 36-yard line. Seven plays later, Howard Hansen
ran it in the end zone and Al Ward's
extra point was good.
Cornell did drive it all the way down to the Lions 24 after the kickoff, but two straight sacks by Bill Malone,
(the same guy who blocked the extra point earlier), ended the threat and the game.
The pundits of the day blamed the upset, (Cornell had been a 14-point favorite), on the heavy rain. But the 20,000 fans in the stands who were thoroughly soaked by the final gun didn't care. Among those fans were 27 members of Columbia's 1934 Rose Bowl championship team who were honored at halftime.
The Lions did it again a year later in Ithaca. This time the final score was 21-20.
Once again, an extra point that wasn't played the biggest role in Columbia's victory. Big Red kicker Bill Kirk simply missed the PAT after Cornell had stormed back from a 21-7 fourth quarter deficit to make it 21-20.
But Columbia still needed an interception by Ben Mione
a few minutes later to truly ice the game in front of 21,000 very cold fans at Schoelkopf Field.
Some of the other Lion stars were Wes Bomm,
who broke Bill Swiacki's
career receptions record with seven grabs on the day.
The Lions won despite being outgained 383-273 from scrimmage. Columbia also lost two fumbles, but made up for it with three interceptions, including the game-clincher.
And the unsung heroes were the snow removal crews from the city of Ithaca. The entire field and most of the stands were covered in heavy snow before the game, but the snow plows quickly made the field playable. 1994: Columbia 38 Cornell 33
(from the Syracuse Herald American--note how they misspelled Marcellus Wiley's name)Jamie Schwalbe
threw for four touchdowns and Columbia guaranteed its first winning season since 1971 with a victory over Cornell.
The Lions (5-3-1, 3-3 Ivy League) last finished above .500 with a 6-3 record 23 years ago. They close the season at home next week against Brown.
Chad Levitt ran for three touchdowns for Cornell (6-3, 3-3), which lost its third straight game. Marcellus Wyley (sic)
turned in a brilliant all-around defensive performance for the Lions and scored their final touchdown on a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter - his only carry of the day. It capped a 45-yard drive that began with his recovery of a Cornell fumble.
Wyley, a junior defensive end, had four tackles, one sack, batted down three passes and had an interception in addition to his critical fumble recovery.
Schwalbe, who hit four different receivers with scoring passes, finished 17-for-25 for 278 yards.
Schwalbe's first touchdown pass, a 44-yard toss to Jim Jim Jones
gave the Lions a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Big Red rallied for a 10-10 tie on Levitt's 5-yard run at 5:59 of the second quarter.
Cornell took a brief lead on Per Larson's 34-yard touchdown pass to Arron Berryman before Schwalbe hit David Ramirez
with a 5-yard pass with 35 seconds left in the first half for a 17-17 tie.
With Cornell leading 27-24, the Lions scored twice in the fourth quarter on Schwalbe's 16-yard pass to tight end Brian Bassett
and Wyley's run.
Terry Smith finished with 126 yards on 13 carries for Cornell, while Levitt had 107 on 28 carries. 1945: Columbia 34 Cornell 26
The '45 Lions finished 8-1, led by QB Eugene Rossides
who scored a still-Columbia record five TD's in this back and forth game. This was the only Columbia win that year that was not decided by at least 10 points.1989: Columbia 25 Cornell 19
This was another great back-and-forth game that became former Head Coach Ray Tellier's
first ever win at Columbia. It was also the Lions first road win in more than six years. 1962: Columbia 25 Cornell 21
Two of the best-ever QB's in Ivy history locked horns in this game at a snowy Baker Field. Cornell's Gary Wood almost beat the Lions Archie Roberts,
but Roberts passed to Al Butts
for a 24-yard TD with 19 seconds left. That gave Columbia the lead for the first time that afternoon. Wood ran and passed for 183 yards, one more than Roberts. Wood rushed for 62 yards, Roberts for minus 6.1992: Columbia 35 Cornell 30
A game that will forever be known as "The Des Werthman Game."
And here's why:
Des helped shock the 7-1 Big Red with 16 tackles, two fumble recoveries, two rushing touchdowns, a 2-point conversion, two extra points, just missed a field goal attempt, and even threw a pass, which went incomplete. (There are also unconfirmed reports that at halftime, Des sold game programs in the stands). The loss eliminated Cornell from the Ivy title race. 2006: Columbia 21 Cornell 14
This is still one of the best wins of the Norries Wilson era at Columbia. It snapped a 16-game Ivy losing streak and it was a great display of offense and defense. A number of great seniors like Tad Crawford and Adam Brekke
had big days on their final afternoon at Wien Stadium. 1933: Columbia 9 Cornell 6
This was one of Columbia's toughest, if not the toughest, wins during its Rose Bowl winning season of 1933.
I recently found a very long summary of the game from a Cornell alumni magazine:
A fighting and seemingly tired Cornell eleven failed in an heroic effort to halt the powerful Columbia Team on Schoellkopf Field the afternoon of the 4th, and was forced to accept a 9-6 defeat. Wilder's field goal in the last few minutes of play, coming after three fast and effective Columbia passes, deprived the Red and White of the tie that up to then seemed sure. Except for the nature of the scoring play, the final Columbia offensive was almost identical to that of Syracuse two weeks ago, and in the same manner brought sudden dismay to the Cornell followers.
It was easily the best football Cornell has played this season, but it was not quite good enough. The Red and White line once more displayed a masterful game of defensive football and amazing stamina. The ends were superb in their diagnoses of Columbia laterals and their hounding of the elusive Montgomery, who never once got loose for a substantial gain. And the line was ably backed, by Goldbas and Ferraro in particular. Yet despite Switzer's good work, the pass defense was far from impregnable, and that, as usual, was what told the tale.
As in the Syracuse game, Cornell surprised by scoring early. Montgomery's fumble after about eight minutes of play was recovered by Frederick on the Lion eight-yard line. On the second play, Switzer took the ball from Frederick, and skirted left end for a touchdown, eluding half a dozen Columbia tacklers. These six points were enough to keep Cornell ahead until well into the third quarter, when Montgomery's pass to McDowell on fourth down was good for 10 yards and a score. There were but four minutes to play in the last period when Wilder booted his perfect and deciding placement kick between the bars from the 15-yard line.
In offensive play, Columbia held a superiority more marked than the score indicates. The Lions made thirteen first downs to Cornell's four, 91 yards from scrimmage to Cornell's 42, and 199 yards from passes to Cornell's 33. In punting, however, Ferraro had a considerable edge over Montgomery. Ferraro averaged 50 yards apiece, his best try sailing some 82. yards, with the wind. One 45-yard wellplaced kick went out of bounds on the Columbia two-yard line. Moreover the Red and White ends got down fast under Ferraro's excellent punts, holding Captain Montgomery to an average of four yards on run-backs.
Fourteen men got into the Cornell line-up in the course of the game, but the starting eleven played without a substitution well into the third period. Coach Little used eight men in the backfield, shifting them about frequently, against Dobie's five. The result was that the Columbia team never for a moment lost its drive, whereas the Red and White, as against Syracuse, appeared to have used up the best part of its power in the first half.
The First Quarter
Heavy penalties for holding and offside unquestionably had much to do with Columbia's being unable to get started in the first quarter, and with Cornell's
getting in a position to score. In the early part of the period the play was all in
Columbia territory. Ferraro kicked off to Matal, who ran back to his own 3-yard line, but the Red and White forwards were not to be budged, and Montgomery was forced to kick to midfield. The Red and White at once swung into action, reeling off two first downs, once taking a chance on fourth down, when Goldbas smacked center for the necessary distance, the other time on a l0-yard pass and a line-buck by Ferraro. But at this point two passes failed, and Ferraro kicked to Montgomery on the five-yard line. An exchange of penalties resulted in a net loss of five yards for Columbia, and, still unable to shake the Cornell defense, Montgomery punted to his own 45-yard line.
On the second play, Frederick took a pretty pass from Ferraro over the center of the Columbia line, and advanced 21 yards to the 26-yard mark. The next pass, however, Ferraro to Goldbas, went over the goal for a touchback. Taking the ball on its own 20-yard mark, Columbia was caught holding on one of Montgomery's end runs, and was forced to begin the play in the shadow of the goal-posts.
Montgomery fumbled on the first play, Frederick recovering for Cornell, and this was followed by Switzer's end run for touchdown. Ferraro's place kick missed by inches.
Following the kick-off, Columbia worked the ball into Cornell territory, despite 20 yards in penalties. The major item in this offensive was a 25-yard pass, Montgomery to McDowell, which gave Columbia a first down on Cornell's 23 yard line yard mark. A lateral to Brominski was good for nine yards, and Montgomery got away to the i4-yard stripe, but Columbia was holding. A pass to Matal was missed by inches, and Montgomery had to kick over the goal. Thus ended the first Columbia threat.
The next few minutes saw Ferraro at his best in the punting game. After two plays at the line had lost five yards, Ferraro booted a beautiful quick kick far over Montgomery's head, which sailed and rolled 82. yards over the Columbia goal line. Montgomery kicked back to the 48-yard line, and Ferraro, realizing that the period was nearly over, took advantage of the wind for one more punt, this time getting the ball out of bounds on the Lion three-yard line. Montgomery's next effort carried only to the 25-yard line, so that Cornell had picked up 55 yards on three punts. The quarter ended with Cornell in possession of the ball on the enemy's 25-yard line.
Cornell came close to a score on the fourth play of the second period, when Ferraro's pass found Wallace in the open, but the Cornell end could not quite get
his hands on the ball. This was Cornell's last threat until toward the end of the
half. After the unsuccessful pass, Montgomery picked up a first down on an end sweep, and then tossed a pass to Matal which was good for 37 yards, bringing the pigskin into Cornell mid-territory. Matal almost got loose on the play but stumbled, and Goldbas came down on him from behind. Here the Red team braced. Montgomery failed at right end; a triple pass, Montgomery to Barabas to Matal, was incomplete; and then Switzer intercepted Montgomery's pass on his own 17-yard line, and ran it back to the 32-yardmark.
An exchange of kicks saw Cornell forced back to its seven-yard mark, and after the next punt against the wind, Columbia had first down on Cornell's 39-yard line. The Red and White held, however, and on the next exchange got out of danger when Ferraro's punt hit Matal's foot in midfield. Kossack fell on the ball for a Cornell first down on the 50-yard line. Once again the offense did not function, and Ferraro's kick was downed by Brock on Columbia's 19-yard line. Frederick knocked down Montgomery's pass to McDowell, and Montgomery kicked to Switzer, who took the ball on the dead run and advanced to Columbia's 34-yard line.
Frederick got around left end for nine yards. Here Ferraro called for the shoestring play which fooled Syracuse, but Columbia was not fooled at all. In fact Ferraro tossed more or less wildly, and the ball bounced off the shoulders of an ineligible receiver, giving the Lions the ball on their own 20-yard line. A pass,Tomb to Maniaci, was good for 13 yards as the half ended, with Cornell enjoying a precarious 6-0 lead.
The third period was distinguished by the brilliant but eventually futile defensive
play of the Cornell line and supporting backs, and the Columbia touchdown that tied the score. Ferraro kicked off to start the period, McDowell taking the ball to his own 38-yard line. The Lions could not get under way, and Montgomery kicked over the goal. Ferraro replied with a splendid boot against the wind to Columbia's 43-yard mark.
Switzer knocked down a pass headed for Matal after an unsuccessful line play, and
Montgomery's poor punt went out of bounds on Cornell's 25-yard line. Switzer and Goldbas together picked up eight yards, but Ferraro had to kick, this time getting the pigskin back to Columbia's 40-yard mark. Here the Lions started out in earnest. Brominski reeled off nine yards at left end, and Montgomery passed to Brominski for a first down. After Nunn got in and hurried his first try, Montgomery shot another aerial to Matal, who raced to Cornell's 7-yard line for a first down.
On the second play, Barabas barely got away from Brock on a wide sweep at left end, and was finally downed on the Red and White two-yard mark. At this point Cornell defense rose to great heights.
Starting with first down on this two yard line, at fourth down Columbia was back 14 yards from the goal. Brock threw Montgomery for a three yard loss at right end on the first play; Barabas was stopped dead at center on the second; and Goldbas pulled down Barabas four yards behind the line on the third. A five-yard penalty brought the total loss for the three plays to 12 yards. But on fourth down Montgomery dropped back and with absurd ease passed to McDowell over the center of the line for a touchdown, the big Blue end going over the line unmolested. Wilder missed the goal, and the score was 6-6.
Neither team was able to threaten for the first half of the final period. After
Ferraro had passed over Wilson's head, he kicked to Montgomery on the latter's 36-yard mark. Tomb and Montgomery together picked up a first down, despite a fumble, but a second fumble was recovered by Kossack, giving the Red and White a first down on the Columbia's 45-yard line. Ferraro passed on the first play, and McDowell intercepted for Columbia on his 39-yard line.
Switzer spoiled a pass headed for Matal, and Montgomery kicked to Switzer, who
ran back to his own 45-yard mark. After two short gains through the line, Ferraro passed to Irving, but it was an inch too high, and eluded the fingers of the Cornell end. This was Cornell's last threat.
Starting on their own 22-yard line after Ferraro's kick, Columbia marched steadily up the field to the winning score. Two penalties against Cornell gave the Lions their first down, and then Montgomery passed to Tomb for 35 yards, making first down on Cornell's 30-yard line. Barabas made three yards at tackle, and McDowell four on a short pass from Montgomery. Montgomery tossed again, this time to Tomb, for a first down on the five-yard mark. Once again, however, the Cornell line was impregnable. Three times Barabas hit center with all his force, and three times he hit a stone wall.
On fourth down, Wilder dropped back to the 15-yard line, and booted a perfect placement kick between the bars. Score, 9-6.
In the last few minutes, Ferraro's pass from deep in his own territory was intercepted by McDowell, and Columbia was in possession of the ball on the Cornell
12-yard line as the game ended.