Lions Beat Crimson, 20-13, in Overtime
By MICHAEL FORNABAIO
Spectator Sports Editor
On the first day it was possible under new NCAA rules, Columbia football played overtime to decide a winner. And after a 12-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Thomason to David Ramirez, Columbia became the winner of that first overtime game, as the Lions beat Harvard, 20-13.
Ramirez, who led the Lions with seven catches for 82 yards, caught Thomason's pass at about the seven yard line, and ran past two defenders, leaping into the end zone to give the Lions the lead for the first time in the game.
The win was Columbia's first victory at home against Harvard since 1970; coupled with last year's win at Cambridge, this is the first time the Lions beat Harvard two seasons in a row since 1953 and 1954. Columbia's victory was sealed on Harvard's first play from scrimmage in the overtime, as Roy Hanks intercepted Jay Snowden's pass.
The new NCAA overtime gives each team at least one possession; the ball is placed on the defense's 25-yard line to start each possession. Columbia drove the 25 yards in two plays, aided by a crucial Harvard mistake. After Thomason threw an incomplete pass to start the overtime, a Harvard defender hit the Lion quarterback late. The Crimson were penalized for roughing the passer and had the ball moved half the distance to the goal, leaving Columbia with a first-and-ten with 12 yards to go instead of 25. Overtime was not a certainty late in regulation time, as Harvard had marched 79 yards to the Columbia one yard line with just over a minute to go. Crimson star running back Eion Hu, who set the Harvard career rushing record earlier in the game, ran 51 yards to the Columbia 20 to key the drive.
But after a delay-of-game penalty, senior defensive end Marcellus Wiley--playing his first game back after a leave of absence last season--blocked Harvard's 25-yard field goal attempt, leaving the score tied.
Columbia had forged the tie, with 6:11 to go in the fourth quarter, when sophomore Matt Linit, who had kicked a 22-yard field goal at the beginning of the quarter, kicked a 48-yard field goal into the wind that just cleared the crossbar.
Harvard had taken a 13-0 lead into halftime, but the Lions came back with seven points in the third quarter and six more in the fourth to knot the score. The comeback began after Joey Bolder forced Hu to fumble at the Harvard 19. Matt Kuhn jumped on the ball for the Lions. Four plays later, Thomason hit fullback Bert Bondi with an 11-yard touchdown pass that cut the Crimson lead to 13-7.
Thomason, who took over as starting quarterback at the end of last season after All-Ivy Mike Cavanaugh was injured, went 12 of 38 for 133 yards. He had the two touchdown passes against one interception. Columbia's defense was strong and featured several key plays. The Lions intercepted Snowden three times, tipped three more passes in the backfield, and forced the key Hu fumble deep in Harvard territory. Hu had 118 yards on 19 carries for the Crimson, breaking Vic Gatto's record of 2,130 career rushing yards.
The Lions play Fordham in the Bronx next Saturday.
Columbia Daily Spectator -- September 21, 1996