The football team has recaptured the Empire State Bowl.
After losing to Cornell last year, 62-41, Columbia (3-6, 2-4 Ivy) took revenge on Saturday, defeating the visiting Big Red (4-5, 2-4 Ivy), 34-17. The Lions’ seniors were honored before the game, their last at Baker Field. A number of members of the class of 2013, including defensive end Josh Martin, cornerback Brian DeVeau, and quarterback Sean Brackett, made big contributions for the Light Blue on the field.
“The number one thing is, these seniors deserved to go out the way they went out today,” Columbia head coach Pete Mangurian said after the game.
The Lions opened the scoring on their first possession of the game. An eight-yard pass from Brackett to freshman wide receiver Chris Connors capped off a 77-yard drive that featured a number of big plays, including an excellent diving catch by Connors.
Columbia’s defense also came out strong and forced the Big Red to punt on its first drive. But Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews connected with wide receiver Luke Tasker on the next Big Red possession to knot the score at 7-7.
Cornell tacked on a field goal with 1:15 left to play in the first half, and Columbia got the ball with a chance to drive up the field and score. But Brackett’s first-down pass was intercepted by corner Jarrod Watson-Lewis, and on the ensuing Cornell possession running back Luke Hagy took it in for a touchdown to give the Big Red a 10-point advantage.
But junior kicker Luke Eddy kicked a 44-yard field goal to bring Columbia within a touchdown as time expired in the second quarter.
The Lions drew first blood in the second half when junior running back Marcorus Garrett busted off an 86-yard touchdown run, which tied the game and represented a critical momentum shift. Garrett had a total of 187 rushing yards on the day, surpassing 100 yards on the ground for the fourth time this season—the first time a Columbia player has had four games of 100 rushing yards since 2001.
On the next Cornell drive, Martin sacked Mathews and forced a fumble, which the Lions recovered. The sack was one of three that Martin got on the Cornell signal-caller on the afternoon.
“Definitely just approached this as a regular game,” Martin said of his performance. “Obviously, you have to recognize that it’s your last game at home, but we kept our nose down and worked. And it paid off today.”
Columbia wasted little time in capitalizing on the Big Red fumble. Brackett found junior tight end Hamilton Garner in the end zone on the first play of the drive to put Columbia back on top. The extra point gave Columbia a 24-17 lead.
An Eddy field goal from 38 yards out put the Light Blue lead at 27-17 early in the fourth, and on the next Columbia drive, Connors made another spectacular catch in the end zone to put Columbia up 34-17.
With Chris Amrhein at quarterback for the Big Red, it seemed like Cornell was ready to claw its way back into the game. The Big Red offense drove from its own nine-yard line all the way to the Columbia 41, but senior corner Brian DeVeau picked off a fourth-down Amrhein pass and neutralized the threat.
The Big Red’s next possession, which proved to be its last of the game, also ended with an interception, albeit a much more unusual one. A broken-up pass somehow balanced on the sprawled body of a Cornell receiver just long enough for junior linebacker Zach Olinger to make a heads-up play and pick it up before it hit the ground.
Columbia ran out the clock to close out its second Ivy win of the year and secure a .500 record at Baker Field.