NEW YORK—Yale took advantage of five Columbia turnovers, used a 152-yard, three-touchdown passing performance from backup freshman quarterback Kurt Rawlings and held off a late Lion comeback to register a 31-23 win Friday night at Robert K. Kraft Field.
Yale built a 24-0 halftime lead by recovering three fumbles and intercepting a pass. Rawlings was inserted into the game in the second quarter and proceeded to throw two touchdown passes, complete six of seven passes for 56 yards and rush for another 46 yards before halftime. Columbia closed out the game with 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
“It was very disappointing to say the least,” Columbia Football Coach Al Bagnoli said. “Yale deserved to win. You can’t beat anybody with five turnovers. I thought in the first half they played great, flawless. We didn’t do a great job of getting our kids ready. Things spiraled out of control. The one positive we take out of it is, the kids continued to battle and made it a little bit interesting in the fourth quarter but certainly not what the standard is now, not what I expect and not what our players expect. Obviously, we’ve got to go back to the drawing board to find out what happened in the first half.”
Yale (2-5, 2-2 Ivy League) took a 7-0 lead with 14:15 left in the second quarter when defensive end John Herubin picked up a Columbia fumble and ran 61 yards untouched for a touchdown. Three minutes later another Columbia fumble on a punt return set up Yale’s second touchdown when Rawlings found Myles Gaines on a short slant pass for a 12-yard touchdown. The play gave Yale a 14-0 lead with 11:02. Yale made it 21-0 with 6:33 left in the second quarter when Robert Clemons III caught a fade pass from Rawlings for a 15-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs took advantage of an 18-yard run by Adam Lamar and an 11-yard run by Clemons to conclude the 55-yard, seven-yard play scoring drive. A 38-yard run by Rawlings setup a 30-yard field goal by Alex Galland to give Yale a 24-0 halftime lead.
Yale added an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter when Rawlings found Leo Haenni for an 11-yard touchdown pass following a six-play, 55-yard drive. The score gave Yale a 31-0 lead with 14:51 left in the game.
But Columbia was not finished. The Lions got on the board in the fourth quarter when Cameron Dunn caught a four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Anders Hill with 9:21 left in the game. The Lions drove 84 yards in 12 plays for the score and used a 37-yard pass from Hill to Scooter Hollis and a 17-yard pass to Ronald Smith to setup the play.
On Columbia’s next drive, Smith scored his first career touchdown when Hill found him open for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 6:57 left in the game. Dunn caught a pass from Hill for a two-point conversion, cutting the deficit to 31-15.
The Lions scored again with 19 seconds to go when Hill found Smith for his second touchdown of the night on a six-yard pass. Hill rushed in for a two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 31-23. Yale recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Columbia’s defense dominated the first quarter as the Lions registered seven tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and held Yale to just minus-six yards of total offense. Christian Conway tallied two sacks, Gianmarco Rea had two tackles for loss, Cameron Roane, Alex Holme and Keith Brady all made stellar plays. For the game, Columbia totaled 12.0 tackles for loss for 34 yards, Rea led the Lions with 12 tackles, while defensive tackle Lord Hyeamang finished with seven tackles.
Columbia (2-5, 1-3 Ivy League) outgained Yale 381-249 in total offensive yards and finished with 20 first downs to Yale’s 14. Hill notched career-highs for completions (24), attempts (46), passing yards (289) and touchdown passes (three). He also rushed for 54 yards on 18 carries. Smith caught a career-high six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He is the first player at Columbia to score two receiving touchdowns since Chris Connors achieved it on Nov. 10, 2012 vs. Cornell. Hollis finished with a season-high 97 receiving yards on six receptions.
Columbia is back in action when it travels to Cambridge, Mass. to take on Harvard on Saturday, Nov. 5. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
POST GAME NOTES
· Columbia was represented at the coin toss by its three 2016 captains: seniors Scooter Hollis (WR), Skyler Mornhinweg (QB) and Christian Conway (LB).
· Today’s weather at kickoff at Robert K. Kraft Field was 45 degrees and cloudy. The teams also endured winds coming off the Hudson River.
· Columbia and Yale met in football for the 95th time in series history. Yale now leads the series 72-21-2 all-time.
· Quarterback Anders Hill threw for career-highs of 289 yards and three touchdowns. It was the second time he threw for over 200 yards this season. He also finished with career-highs for completions (24) and attempts (46). The last time a Columbia quarterback passed for three touchdowns in a game was on Oct. 11, 2014 when Trevor McDonagh threw for four against Monmouth. The last time a CU quarterback threw for 200 or more yards was on Nov. 1, 2014 vs. Yale (232 yards).
· Freshman wide receiver Ronald Smith notched career-highs for touchdown receptions (two), receptions (six) and receiving yards (114). His long reception of 39 yards also marked a career-long. The last time a Columbia player caught two touchdown passes in a game was on Nov. 10, 2012 when Chris Connors caught two against Cornell. Smith became the second player this season to finish with over 100 yards receiving in a game as Hollis registered 131 yards at Georgetown on Sept. 26, 2015.
· Senior wide receiver Scooter Hollis finished with a season-high 97 receiving yards on six receptions. He caught the longest reception of the season, a 37-yard pass from Anders Hill in the fourth quarter.
· Columbia’s Cameron Dunn caught his second touchdown pass of the season on a four-yard scoring strike from Anders Hill in the fourth quarter.
· Junior Alex Holme made his first career start at defensive tackle.
· Sophomore Brandon Krcilek made his first start of the season at wide receiver.
· Freshman quarterback Hunter Petlansky caught his first career pass, a 10-yard reception in the second quarter.
· In the first quarter alone, Columbia’s defense totaled 7.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and held Yale to negative-6 yards on offense.
· Columbia’s string of six consecutive fourth down conversions came to an end in the third quarter.
· Columbia’s defense totaled a season-high 12.0 tackles for loss for 34 yards, three sacks for 12 yards and six pass breakups.
· With his 12 tackles on the evening, senior linebacker Gianmarco Rea reached double figure tackles for the sixth time in seven games.