Roar, Lion, Roar: A Celebration of Columbia Football

People > Players 1960s-2000s > John Witkowski

John Witkowski and Doug Flutie

John Witkowski and Doug Flutie, 1984

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John Witkowski, CC 1984

The Ivy League Player of the Year as a junior, one of only two so honored in Columbia annals, John Witkowski left Columbia with every major school and Ivy League passing record, 32 in all. Possibly the greatest quarterback in Columbia history and one of the most prolific in Ivy League history, he played on a team that went 3-25-2 in his three years as a starter.

On a gray November day in 1982, Witkowski completed 39 of 64 passes for 466 yards and five touchdowns, breaking virtually every Columbia and Ivy League passing record. He also ran for 38 yards to establish an NCAA Division I record with 504 yards of total offense. Unfortunately, the Lions lost to Dartmouth, 56-41.

In the final game of the 1983 season, trailing Brown 42-7 in the fourth quarter, Witkowski led Columbia on a remarkable comeback. Four times, Larry Walsh followed touchdowns with onside kicks recovered by Columbia and each time Witkowski led the Lions downfield to score. Columbia rallied to within six points, but the rally fell short and Brown won, 42-36.

As a senior, Witkowski set 25 game, season and career records. His 7,849 passing yards in three varsity seasons stood as the Ivy mark for 16 years.

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