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Columbia Downs Cornell to Capture Second League Win
Head coach Norries Wilson came into the post-game press conference in his socks after his Gatorade bath in Columbia’s (2-7, 2-4 Ivy) 17-7 win over Cornell (4-5, 2-4 Ivy) on Saturday.
“They keep ruining shoes and shirts,” Wilson said. “I’m going to go out there with a poncho.”
With junior Millicent Olawale starting at quarterback, the Lions quickly moved the ball down the field. Olawale scrambled 23 yards on the Lions’ second drive to set up junior running back Ray Rangel’s one-yard touchdown run, putting the Lions up 7-0.
Despite the precedent of rotating quarterbacks the past three weeks, Olawale stayed in for all four quarters, finishing the day with 86 yards passing and 93 yards rushing.
Cornell answered early in the second quarter, though, with senior quarterback Nathan Ford connecting with junior wide receiver Bryan Walters for a 60-yard completion. That set up a first-and-goal at the Columbia four-yard line, and a quick pass from Ford to senior receiver Jesse Baker put Cornell on the board and tied the score at 7.
With a little under a minute and a half left in the first half, Cornell drove downfield to face a first-and-goal at the Columbia three-yard line. Ford kept the ball and got to the half-yard line, but couldn’t punch it into the end zone on consecutive quarterback sneaks on third and fourth downs.
“It seemed like as soon as the ball was in the quarterback’s hand, the center was in the quarterback’s lap,” sophomore linebacker Alex Gross said. Gross leads Columbia and the Ivy League in tackles this season.
“You’re not going to win any game like that,” Cornell head coach Jim Knowles said. “You get stopped twice from the half-yard line? When that happens you don’t deserve to win a ball game, that’s all I can say. That was Columbia winning the battle, so I give them all the credit for winning the ball game.”
Columbia went into the locker room at halftime with the momentum and the score still tied, 7-7. When the teams got back on the field, the wheels came off Cornell’s potent air attack. Ford threw two interceptions in the third quarter and went on to throw two more in the fourth. He finished the day 34-for-53 with four interceptions and one touchdown.
“They have a top-ranked defense in the country…so we knew that they were going to be real tough,” Knowles said. “So we decided to, from our end, make it a passing game. And when you have four interceptions, you know, it’s not going to work.”
The second interception, which sophomore Calvin Otis picked off for his first interception of the season, set up a Jon Rocholl field goal to put the Lions up, 10-7.
For the second week in a row, junior Austin Knowlin returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown. After the game, Wilson said, “That was my jersey number in college. He does it to honor me.”
Knowlin was quick to praise the punt team, who he says has “just [been] doing a great job these past two weeks…I was supposed to go to the right, but I saw the whole left side get knocked out, so I hit the left side, and it was me and the punter, and I beat him.”
That gave Columbia a comfortable 17-7 lead with under eight minutes in the half, and another interception—this time by junior Andy Shalbrack—allowed Columbia to run out the clock and come away with its second win of the season.
“We talked at half time about winning the third quarter, and we won the third quarter, and then we won the fourth quarter,” Wilson said. “You can ask for more, but we’re happy to win.”
Football Downs Cornell to Capture Second League Win
By Holly MacDonald, The Columbia Spectator