Best Defense, Part Two
Erv Chambliss is now coaching at Union College
Prior to the 2006 season, you have to go back to 1998 to find a truly stellar Columbia defense.
That squad allowed just 175 points to finish second in the Ivies that category for the year.
The key was run defense.
They gave up just 96 rushing yards per game, 2.7 yards per carry, and only seven rushing TD’s on the entire season.
There were stars on all three lines of the defense.
The defensive line featured 1st Team All Ivy Rashaan Curry, who had 6.5 sacks for 47 yards lost and a total of nine tackles for a loss.
The linebackers were led by 1st Team All Ivy Paul Roland, who had 70 tackles, 13 TFL’s and four sacks.
And the incomparable defensive back Chris Tillotson was also a 1st Team All Ivy member with 60 tackles, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a blocked kick.
The other big stars were linebacker Kevin Wright and safety Jason Bivens, both made 2nd Team All Ivy. Avery Mosely and Joe Cook were also big leaders.
The best team effort came in week one when the Lions shut out Harvard in a 24-0 Homecoming win. The 22-10 win over Cornell featured a defense that held the Big Red to just nine rushing yards and forced four turnovers while getting nine sacks.
Columbia also had eight sacks and forced six turnovers in the 24-14 win at Dartmouth that ended a 27-year-long winless streak against the Big Green.
The defensive coordinator that season was Erv Chambliss, who also oversaw the secondary.
Since 1998, the Lions haven’t come close to enjoying the kind of run defense they enjoyed that year.
So why didn’t Columbia do better than its 4-6 record that year?
The loss of starting QB Paris Childress early in the year was a major factor, as was the apparent lack of a realization that then-freshman Johnathan Reese was the kind of back who could anchor the entire offense. The red zone offense that year was especially weak.
But 1998 was an extremely exciting season, thanks mostly to the run-killing defense.