Holy HECK. We just won our homecoming football game.
With an overtime win 34-31 over the Penn Quakers (2-3), the Columbia Lions (5-0) extended their streak to a darn-magical 5-0, which hasn’t happened since 1996 (an 8-2 season). The even more magical sequence of events that got us here somehow seemed to quintessentially represent our football past: confusing, sudden, desperate at times, and right now, unexpectedly wonderful.
The first 3 quarters were trying. The Quakers led for most of the third quarter 21-7 after intercepting an ill-advised 3rd and 6 pass by backup quarterback Ryan Suitt. The Lions’ next two possessions ended quickly, and when they forced a Penn fumble late in the third quarter, they turned the ball over on downs at the Penn 30 just four plays later.
So with Columbia down by 14 points and 11 minutes on the clock for the fourth quarter, I had all but lost hope. Then, the Lions drove the ball until they had a 1st and goal opportunity at the Penn 7-yard line. Columbia failed three times to convert, until rushing quarterback Josh Bean made it 21-14 on 4th and 1. Then, the team scored two more times on the next two drives and we were in the LEAD? Yep, we were in the lead, 28-21 with 4:11 left in the quarter. Columbia fans were even brave enough to heckle the Quakers with classic lines like: “What is Philly good for anyways? Cheesesteaks, and that’s about it!”
When Penn later tied the game 28-28 with a touchdown, we went into overtime with Penn on offense and Columbia on defense. Columbia’s defense was great in OT – Columbia linebacker Michael Murphy tackled Quaker wide receiver Justin Watson, forcing Penn to lose seven on their first play; by stopping the next two plays, the Lions forced a Penn gain of only three points with a field goal.
In Columbia’s next offensive series, signal-called Anders Hill would find wide receiver Josh Wainwright and win the game – our first success over Penn since 1997, our second consecutive Homecoming win, and a victory that led us here, to a historic 5-0.
Back on campus, we heard many a line that went like this: “What, we won the homecoming game? In overtime?” “We won over Penn?” Yeah, we did.
Victory Celebration via Peter Pilling