Thursday, November 11, 2010

Best of the Bowls

Some great Columbia moments took place on this field in recent years

It’s only now being officially named the “Empire State Bowl,” but many Columbia and Cornell fans have recognized the annual battle between the Ivy’s only two intrastate rivals as a special rivalry for years.

Over the past 10 years, each team has won five games and most of the contests have been close.

For Lions fans, here are the top 5 moments in the rivalry over the last decade:

5) Ayo Almost Loses It!

The 2003 game at Schoelkopf Field started out looking like a whitewash with Columbia jumping out to a 27-7 lead.

But the Big Red pulled to within 27-21 with five minutes to go and had the Lions backed up inside their own 30.

Luckily for Columbia, the offense rediscovered its punch. The Lions marched all the way to the Cornell 39 before it looked like the drive was stalling. Then running back Ayo Oluwole, who would end the year with the 3rd best ever rushing season in Columbia history, burst through the line and was in the clear for a TD.

But suddenly, Ayo just lost the handle on the football! It spurted high in the air from his grasp, but luckily Oluwole was able to catch it and control the pigskin. He did end up going down at the Cornell three, but the game-icing TD came moments later in the 34-21 win.

4) Hormann to Russell: Bang Bang!

The 2006 Cornell-Columbia game was tight battle, with Columbia clinging to a 14-7 lead late in the third quarter.

Then came two back-to-back plays that gave the Lions a big cushion.

Tad Crawford skied impossibly high in the air to grab an interception at the Big Red 33. And then on the very next play, Lion QB Craig Hormann faked a handoff on a reverse and found TE Jamal Russell streaking uncovered along the Wien Stadium western sideline. Russell went untouched into the end zone and Columbia had a 21-7 lead.

The Lions were able to hold on for a 21-14 victory.

3) Zack’s Opening Shot

On the very first play from scrimmage in the 2009 contest in Ithaca, Zack Kourouma went in between the tackles on the left side of the Columbia line and scampered untouched for an 80-yard TD. It would be the longest run from scrimmage in the Ivies for the entire season.

2) M.A.’s Heroic Run

With Columbia trailing 20-16 late in the third quarter of the 2009 game, the Lion coaches decided to pull starting QB Sean Brackett for injured senior M.A. Olawale.

The Big Red knew Olawale was banged up, but they didn’t know just how bad. Olawale could barely throw at all and was really in the game to run the football.

And run it he did. With just under two minutes left in the 3rd, M.A. dove into the end zone for a one yard TD and gave the Lions the lead back at 23-20.

But it was his second TD run with less than 2 minutes left in the game that really iced it. That run was a 19-yarder to the left side on a third and 10 that stunned the Schoelkopf crowd. That would be M.A.’s last run of his Columbia career.

1) Reese’s Runs to Glory

The 2001 game at Schoelkopf was another back-and-forth affair. But the Lions had the unstoppable Johnathan Reese on their side.

With the score tied at 21 in the fourth quarter, the Lions faced a 4th and one at the Big Red 33. Everyone in the stadium knew Reese was getting the ball.

But it didn’t matter.

Reese didn’t just get the first down, he got the touchdown, and put the Lions ahead 28-21.

Six minutes later, Reese scored on a 4th and one from the 14 and Columbia held on for a 35-38 win.

Reese finished the day with 140 yards and the two dramatic TD’s.


At Thu Nov 11, 07:21:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite was the 1992 game at Columbia. Cornell was in the title hunt. Columbia jumped out to a large lead and Cornell kept chipping away. Cornell scored to come within about five with about a minute to go and lined up for an onsides kick. The Cornell kicker whiffed on the kick and the ball went about two feet. Columbia takes over and takes knees to run out the clock and victory. The television cameras showed tears coming down the poor Cornell kicker's face. At the time, it was Columbia's biggest victory in years.

At Fri Nov 12, 01:25:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger friend12 said...

To the poster on the 1992 Cornell game. I wish you hadn't shared that one. When a player has a moment like that kicker it is a tragedy regardless of the team and something that will haunts a player for ever. Keeping strictly on the positive would have been nice.

At Fri Nov 12, 04:40:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

One does not even have to be much of a Bruce Springsteen fan to note that, when the emphasis is suddenly on "glory days" long past, football season is truly over.

At Fri Nov 12, 06:01:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not so, cathar, I want the Lions to win Saturday's game more than ever. Jake is writing about the past only because of his brilliant historical knowledge and perspective of Ivy League Football, in general, and Columbia Football, in particular. In fact, it is safe to assume that Jake will only write about the present in his article later tonight or tomorrow. Incidentally, I believe what is important is that we Columbia Fans show up en masse this Saturday for the final home of the season. Hopefully, a good number of the Lion Fans who came to Baker Field for homecoming will support the team at Baker Field Saturday. I mean this is the last chance to scream at a home football game this season. Go Lions!


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