My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

My AGS Challenge #3 Entry

In case you don't make your way over to Any Given Saturday, I thought I would share my entry into the third summer "challenge" issued by a fan from McNeese State. The winner gets a free copy of the 2005 preview magazine. The challenge was to write a few paragraphs "describing their (personal) proudest moment that they have experienced about their I-AA football team."

It was a tough decision to think of, considering the 2003 playoff run; the turn around season of 1996; the first Patriot League title in 1997; beating I-A Buffalo in 2003; there are many to choose from. But from this fan's seat, here's what I had to say:

"To understand the pride that a Colgate football fan experienced during the 2003 playoff run, one must realize that for a time there in the mid 1990s,Colgate football barely had a pulse. After 5 straight seasons of losing 7 or more games, the (at the time Red) Raiders were the doormat of the Patriot League. With the hiring of Dick Biddle in 1996, the fortunes of those on the gridiron immediately began to change. First was the 1996 season, when that Colgate squad went from 0-11 to 6-5, becoming the second team in NCAA history to go from a winless season to a winning season the next year. The following year brought a Patriot League championship and a playoff birth and from there, the solidifcation of a new Colgate era of excellence.

The culmination of this effort was, in this fan's opinion, against Western Illinois University in the NCAA playoffs on December 6, 2003. There were those that called the previous week's win against the University of Massachusetts a fluke due to the weather. Colgate came out to prove differently in another battle on the tundra. It was a classic back and forth battle between two heavyweights.

This game stands out over the rest because of the sheer will not to quit that Colgate showed. After a back and forth contest all afternoon, Western llinois took a 6 point lead with 7:04 remaining in the game and then proceeded to stop the Colgate offense on its next possession. I confess that at that point the future looked bleak from those cold, snowy stands of Andy Kerr stadium; but it is now apparent that the men in maroon never thought so. The defense squad proceeded to stuff Western Illinios and force a punt with 3:09 remaining. Like a bolt of lightning to warm up the frozen and fading crowd, senior J.B. Gerald returns a punt 28 yards to the Leathernecks 25 yard line. At that point, this fan knew that there would be joy in Mudville that day, because the Mighty Colgate was not going to strike out. All of Andy Kerr Stadium rose to their frozen feet and witnessed the first play of the drive to be a 24 yard classic Chris Brown to Luke Graham pass completion to the one yard line. Three tries later, eventual Walter Payton winner Jamaal Branch punches through for a touchdown to give Colgate and the Patriot League its first ever entrance into the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs. The Colgate defense preserves the victory and my teary eyes watch a normally sedated student body rip down the goalposts and parade them down the main street of Hamilton. There has never been a sporting event like this one in Hamilton and for those that were there, it will be a memory that is forever imprinted on the mind of a time when Colgate truely reached greatness."


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