Recent Days > 1996 Football Team
1996 Football Team
Columbia's 1996 football team brought an energy to Morningside Heights that had been missing for years. Beginning the year with a six-game win streak, the Lions finished the season with an 8-2 record and a second-place finish in the Ivy League standings.
The season kicked off with Columbia knocking off Harvard in overtime, 20-13. Future second-round NFL draft pick Marcellus Wiley blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation to preserve a 13-13 tie, sending the game to the extra period. A 12-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Thomason to David Ramirez gave Columbia the lead and a Roy Hanks' interception sealed the victory. Success continued the following two weeks with triumphs over Fordham and Holy Cross, moving Columbia to 3-0. Overtime once again was needed to defeat Penn, with kicker Matt Linit nailing the extra point for the win in overtime.
The foot of Linit, in conjunction with a smart coaching adjustment by Coach Ray Tellier, led to the Lions edging Lafayette the next week, 3-0. Despite 40-mph winds and horizontal sheets of rain, Linit knocked home a 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. A stingy defensive effort moved the Lions to 6-0, as Columbia held Yale to just 156 yards of total offense in a 13-10 triumph. Two tough losses to Princeton and Dartmouth dropped Columbia to 6-2, but the Lions roared back in the season's final two victories with Ivy League wins over Cornell and Dartmouth.
For all their accomplishments, the postseason awards poured in for a number Lions including Rory Wilfork, Matt Linit, Roy Hanks and Dennis Lee. Tellier captured DI-AA Regional and National Coach of the Year honors. Star defensive end Marcellus Wiley earned a spot on the All-America third team, was selected to participate in the East-West Shrine Game and garnered a spot on the All-East and All-Ivy League first teams.