Recapitulation of this weekend’s football success by CML:

Thousands of fans from both Columbia and Cornell converged upon Baker Field today, each to witness firsthand the contest that would determine the best Ivy League football team in New York  – and whether Columbia, after two years, would finally notch a conference win.  The sun shone high above the somewhat seedy tenements that comprise the stadium’s environs, and the trees in Inwood Hill Park had turned pretty shades of green, orange, and red.  The tranquil weather and natural beauty were to be the perfect ironic contrast to the slaughter that was about to occur, or so I thought.

What ensued was a series of incredible events, each more improbable than the last.  First, the Lions didn’t fumble the kickoff.  Next, they made a first down.  Then they made another one, and yet another, sprinkling a few effective running plays amongst much improved passing game.  The drive – certainly the offense’s best all season – culminated in a one-yard touchdown run.  A few minutes later, the Cornell quarterback threw an interception, which the defense returned for a touchdown.  And just like that, the Lions were up 14-0.

On the following drive, Cornell finally figured out that running the ball against our undersized defensive line might be effective, and for a few minutes, the specter of what had befallen Columbia at Yale two weeks ago overshadowed their hopes.  The Big Red scored one touchdown, but were unable to manage another drive before the second quarter ended, and the Lions took a seven-point lead into halftime.

After the break, the offense was unable to recapture the efficiency of its opening drive, but it did convert an opportunity after the beleaguered Cornell quarterback threw another interception deep in his own territory.  The Big Red compiled another strong rushing drive to bring the deficit within seven again, then recovered their own onside kick, but the Lions’ defense attained a huge sack on fourth down with five minutes left in the game.  The offense could only manage another three-and-out, giving Cornell a final opportunity, but one last interception torpedoed the Big Red for good, 21-14.

The Lions improved their Ivy record to a euphonious 1-5, and their record against other teams from New York State to 3-0.  As the final seconds faded away, the players began to celebrate, and M. Dianne Murphy and Norries Wilson – the ultimate physical juxtaposition – embraced in an emotional cocktail of euphoria and relief.

Was the victory a great triumph, indicative of a systemic improvement and better things to come?  Will Norries be able to kick his smoking habit, and will the hairs in M. Dianne’s androgynous haircut decrease their precipitous rate of graying?  Or was it an isolated, serendipitous incident, more of a reflection on Cornell’s futility than on any Columbian improvement, and as ephemeral and ultimately irrelevant as a pill of Prozac is to a deep depression?  The fate of the season (well, sort of) hangs in the balance next Saturday as the Lions take on Brown in Providence.