ITHACA, N.Y.—Senior running back Chris Schroer rushed for a career-high 183 yards and a touchdown, sophomore placekicker Oren Milstein converted a season-high three field goals and the Lions’ defense tallied a safety and limited Cornell to eight points as Columbia registered an 18-8 Empire State Bowl win Saturday at Shoellkopf Field.
With the win, Columbia improves to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the Ivy League. The Lions remain tied for second place in the Ivy League standings with Dartmouth with identical 4-2 records. With a 35-31 win over Princeton, Yale remains in first place with a 5-1 record heading into the final weekend of competition. The Bulldogs have clinched at least a tie for the Ivy League championship. Next Saturday, Columbia hosts Brown, Dartmouth hosts Princeton and Yale hosts Harvard.
It was a convincing performance for the Lions, who held an 18-0 advantage with 3:28 left in the contest. For the game, Columbia outgained Cornell 409-257 in total yardage, registered 20 first downs to the Big Red’s 15 and dominated the time of possession battle 35:07-24:53. The Lions’ defense held Cornell to 179 total yards before it went into its prevent defense on the Big Red’s final scoring drive.
“We knew we had to play well today and we knew points were going to be hard to come by,” Columbia’s Patricia & Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli said. “We knew we had to have a good defensive game and be as opportunistic as we could on the offensive side of the ball. We still have to finish some drives. I was a little concerned at halftime as we had only six points on the board after putting up 250-plus yards of offense. Sometimes that can come back to bite you, but our defensive players did a nice job, Oren Milstein came through with field goals and we scored points when we had the opportunity to do so.”
“It’s a tough place to play and Cornell is a good team. It’s a good win for us.”
Columbia went up 8-0 in the third quarter when senior defensive end Connor Heeb tackled a Cornell ballcarrier in the end zone for a safety. Columbia punter Parker Thome boomed a punt which was fumbled by Cornell’s punt returner then recovered by the hosts at its own one-yard line. On the ensuing play, Heeb beat his defender and tackled Cornell’s Jack Gellatly in the end zone for a safety.
Columbia made it 11-0 with 2:23 left in the third quarter when Milstein nailed his third field goal of the day, a 28-yard effort. The kick ended a nine-play, 28-yard drive which was setup by an interception and 21-yard return by senior Landon Baty. Baty’s interception, his fourth of the season and fifth of his career, gave the ball to Columbia at the Cornell 38-yard line.
The Lions added an insurance touchdown when Schroer scored on a two-yard run to take an 18-0 lead with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter. After Columbia’s defense stopped a Cornell drive on a fourth down play, Columbia’s rushing game went into full gear as it marched 74 yards in seven rushing plays, highlighted by a career-long 40-yard run by Schroer. After the long run, Schroer bulled his way for a key 21-yard gain which gave the Lions first down and goal on Cornell’s six-yard line. Following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Schroer scored on a run up the middle.
Cornell (3-6, 3-3 Ivy League) cut the deficit to 18-8 with 1:09 left when it scored on a seven-yard run by Josh Sweet and added a two-point conversion when quarterback Dalton Banks found Hayes Nolte. Columbia ran out the clock.
Columbia took a 6-0 lead into halftime after it outgained Cornell 253-91 in total yardage, racked up 13 first downs to the Big Red’s three and commanded time of possession: 19:44-10:16.
Columbia went up 3-0 with 5:05 left in the first quarter when Milstein nailed a 26-yard field goal following a seven-play, 40-yard drive. The Lions took their 6-0 lead into halftime with 22 seconds left in the second quarter when Milstein converted a 33-yard field goal after an 11-play, 66-yard scoring drive.
Schroer led Columbia with his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game, setting career-highs for rushing yards (183) and carries (27) while scoring his first rushing touchdown of the year. Sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright caught nine passes for 140 yards and tallied his third 100-yard receiving game of the season and senior quarterback Anders Hill completed 21 of 31 passes for 206 yards. Junior safety Ryan Gilbert led the defensive effort with nine tackles.
One game remains for Columbia (7-2, 4-2 Ivy League): next Saturday at home against Brown (2-7, 0-6 Ivy League). Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET on SNY/Ivy League Network. The contest also marks Senior Day and the final home game for Columbia’s 32 senior players.
POST GAME NOTES
*Columbia was represented at the coin toss by its four 2017 senior captains: Landon Baty, Anders Hill, Lord Hyeamang and Bewley Wales. Cornell won the toss and deferred to the second half. Columbia started off with the ball.
*Today’s weather at kickoff was 32 degrees and sunny.
*Columbia wore white uniform tops with blue pants and white helmets.
*The victory gave Columbia its fourth Ivy League win of the year and the Lions clinched their first winning season in the league since 1996. It marks the fifth winning season in the Ivy League since the conference was formed in 1956.
*Columbia also won its seventh game of the 2017 season and improved to 7-2 overall. The seven wins mark the most victories at Columbia since 1996 when the Lions finished 8-2.
*For the fifth time in nine games this year, Columbia held an opponent scoreless in the first half. Teams that were held scoreless in the first half against Columbia this year include Wagner, Georgetown, Marist, Dartmouth and Cornell. Columbia has now outscored 123-55 in the first this season.
*Columbia led 6-0 at halftime. When leading at halftime, Columbia improved to 5-0 on the season.
*Senior running back Chris Schroer continued his late season surge as he finished with a career-high 183 yards on a career-high 27 carries. He also scored his first rushing touchdown of the season on a two-yard run in the fourth quarter. It marks his second consecutive and second career 100-yard rushing game. Combining his last two games, Schroer has gained 308 yards on 51 carries (6.0 yards per carry average). In the first half alone, He also ran for a career-long 40-yard run in the fourth quarter. In the second half, Schroer rushed for 130 yards. The contest also marked Schroer’s second consecutive start.
*With nine receptions for 140 yards, sophomore Josh Wainwright registered his fourth career 100-yard receiving game and third of the season. At halftime, he had seven catches for 132 yards. His long reception was a 39-yarder from Anders Hill.
*Sophomore Ronald Smith made his first start and appearance in three games after suffering an injury. He finished with three catches for 12 yards in his return game.
*Sophomore Oren Milstein converted a season-high 3-4 field goals on the day. He kicked a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter, a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter. He is now 7-11 on the year and 19-24 in his career. The last time a Columbia kicker converted three or more field goals in a game was Milstein against Dartmouth on Oct. 22, 2015 when he kicked three FGs in a 9-7 win over the Big Green. It also marks Milstein’s third career game with three or more field goals made. Milstein has now converted 19 career field goals, which puts him in sixth place on Columbia’s all-time career field goals list. He needs just one more field goal to pull into a tie for fourth place on the list.
*Senior quarterback Anders Hill completed 21 of 31 passes for 206 yards. With his 206 yards passing, Anders Hill moved into fifth place on Columbia’s all-time career passing yardage list. He now has 4,987 career passing yards and passed Jeff Otis, who totaled 4,787 passing yards from 2002-04. At halftime, Hill completed 15 of 23 passes for 189 yards with a long of 39.
*Columbia senior Connor Heeb recorded a safety with 9:04 left in the third quarter. It was the first safety for Columbia since it last registered a safety vs. Wagner on Oct. 10, 2015. Heeb finished with three tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss.
*Columbia senior Landon Baty registered the fourth interception of his career in the third quarter. It was the second consecutive game that Baty intercepted a pass. It also marked the sixth interception of his career.
*Columbia punter Parker Thome had an impressive game with all four of his punts placed inside the 20-yard line. He averaged 44.0 yards per punt on four punts.
*Four-year offensive lineman Bewley Wales made the first reception of his career when he caught a deflected pass.
*Once again, Ryan Gilbert led the Lions in tackles. It was the fourth consecutive game that he led the Lions in tackles. He now has 89 on the year.
*Junior Jacob Young made his first career start at linebacker and registered a career-high six tackles, 0.5 sack and pass breakup.
*Three Columbia players made their first career starts today. Sophomore Joseph Scowden made his first career start at left guard, junior Calvin Falkenhayn started at middle linebacker and junior linebacker Jacob Young started at outside linebacker.
*Columbia and Cornell played their 105th all-time game. With Columbia’s win, Cornell now leads the all-time series with a 65-37-3 record.
*With the win, Columbia snapped the Lions’ three-game losing streak to Cornell in games played in Ithaca.