NEW YORK—Columbia registered a 26-10 preseason scrimmage win over Montclair State as nearly 100 Lions football players saw game action Friday afternoon at Robert K. Kraft Field. Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli reiterated that the goal of the scrimmage was to play as many of his younger players as possible.
“The whole day was structured to get our young players under the microscope, get them in a game situation with officials, play with some pressure with the clock running, the whole deal,” Bagnoli said. “We know that the young players are going to have to factor into the season. The more we can do to integrate them and get them to relax and do all the little things right under stress, that was the first goal. The second thing, this kind of breaks up preseason a bit. For us, it’s preseason practice No. 12, No. 12 out of 26. We’re not even halftway through preseason yet. It was a nice diversion for us. We’re tired of hitting ourselves for the last seven practices.”
“We’ll look at the film to see the good, the bad and the ugly. Really, it was geared toward our young players more than anything else.”
Overall, there were many positives for Columbia in all three phases of the game. Columbia’s offense totaled 20 first downs, 337 total yards of offense including 234 passing yards and scored two touchdowns. The Lions’ defense registered a safety, forced and recovered a fumble, limited Montclair State to just 13 first downs and allowed the Red Devils to convert just two of 14 third downs. Columbia’s special team’s unit blocked a field goal, scored a touchdown on a 70-yard fumble return and made several positive plays on coverage.
Columbia’s first string players saw as little as two series of action. On the first drive, Columbia senior quarterback Anders Hill drove the Lions 60 yards down the field on a nine-play scoring drive that ended in a 23-yard field goal by senior Noah Zgrablich. In that series, Hill completed three passes including a 26-yard pass to sophomore Tanner Thomas and a 15-yarder to sophomore Ronald Smith II. After Montclair State blocked a Columbia punt deep in Lion territory and tied the game at 3-3 on a 23-yard Hunter Daly field goal, junior quarterback Ryan Suitt scored on a 12-yard scramble after leading the Columbia offense 70 yards on seven plays. The touchdown gave Columbia a 10-3 first quarter lead.
In the second quarter, first-year quarterback Dillon Davis gave Columbia a 17-3 lead when he found sophomore wide receiver Christian Everett open in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass. The play was setup by Columbia’s defense when senior linebacker Parker Tobia recovered a fumble which was forced by senior defensive back Tyler Holmes.
Columbia took a 24-3 halftime lead when first-year defensive back Carson Powell broke through the line and blocked a Montclair State field goal attempt. The ball was scooped up by first-year linebacker Ben Mathiasmeier, who caught it in stride and rambled 70 yards for a touchdown.
Columbia’s final points came on a safety in the third quarter when first-year defensive end Andrew Nichols sacked Montclair State quarterback Zahir Wilder in the end zone for a 26-3 lead.
Montclair State got on the board when Wilder found receiver Zak Spence open for a 62-yard scoring strike with 10:24 left in the game.
Columbia’s first-year players saw extensive action and Bagnoli was pleased the performances. On offense, first-year Marquavious Moore led Columbia with 51 rushing yards on eight carries, Davis completed five of nine passes for 60 yards and a touchdown and running back Jalen Allen caught two passes for 22 yards and carried the ball seven times. Defensively, notable performances came from Nichols, who led the Lions with two sacks for 12 yards and four tackles, Mathiasmeier, who totaled a team-leading five tackles, linebacker Cameren Carter, who made four tackles and linebacker Justin Woodley, who contributed three solo tackles. Defensive back Will Allen showed his potential on special teams with a 32-yard kickoff return.
“They all played a lot,” Bagnoli said. “We got snaps on every single player. We dressed close to 100 and all 100 of our players got into the game in various capacities and various lengths. Sometimes practice becomes tough to evaluate. Sometimes you need something like today’s scrimmage to be able to evaluate a little better. This was a good go for us. You’re always worried injuries. It’s just part of the process.”
The scrimmage began with special teams plays (kickoff, punt and field goal/PAT) simulations, then proceeded into a full four quarter scrimmage with a running clock. The punts will cease at the end of the first quarter, but it will be exactly like a regular game with a 40-second clock, down and distance, officials and game clock.
Including today’s scrimmage, the Lions have practiced 12 times since August 21. They put on the pads for the first time last Friday. Columbia officially opens its 2017 season on Saturday, Sept. 16 when it hosts Wagner at Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium.
It is the second time that Bagnoli and Montclair State head coach Rick Giancola met on the sidelines as the duo’s teams last played in the NCAA Division III Playoff Quarterfinals on November 25, 1989 when Bagnoli coached at Union College, N.Y. Union defeated Montclair State 45-6 that day to advance in NCAA Championship play. Bagnoli’s Union team advanced all the way to the national title game/Alonzo Stagg Bowl before losing to Dayton 17-7 in Phenix City, Ala.
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SCRIMMAGE STATISTICS AND PLAY-BY-PLAY
1st Quarter: 11:48; Columbia; Noah Zgrablich 23-yard field goal; 9 plays, 60 yards, 3:12.
1st Quarter: 4:32; Montclair State; Hunter Daly 23-yard field goal; 6 plays, 16 yards, 2:20.
3rd Quarter: 2:01; Columbia; Andrew Nichols sack and safety.
4th Quarter: 10:24; Montclair State; Zak Spence 62-yard pass from Zahir Wilder (Hunter Daly kick); 3 plays, 68 yards, 1:25.
Offensive Starters: Anders Hill (QB), Chris Schroer (RB), Rory Schlageter (TE), Ronald Smith II (WR), Tre Gabriel (WR), Parker Coogan (RG), Bewley Wales (LT), Tyler Schonewolf (C), Markham Paukune (RT), Charlie Flores (LG), Kyle Castner (WR)
Defensive Starters: Cameron Roane (DB), Michael Murphy (LB), Jalen Williams (LB), Connor Heeb (DE), Lord Hyeamang (DT), Michael Hinton (DE), Arman Samouk (DT), Denzel Hill (DB), Parker Tobia (LB), Ryan Gilbert (S), Landon Baty (S)
SPECIAL TEAMS (FIRST PART OF SCRIMMAGE)
Punt: Noah Zgrablich punt, 48 yards, downed
Punt: MSU punt, 24 yards
Punt: MSU punt, 27 yards, Alex Gibson fielded, minus-1 yard on return
FG: Oren Milstein 34-yard field goal (converted)
FG: Oren Milstein 41-yard field goal (converted)
FG: Chris Alleyne 37-yard field goal (wide left)
FG: Montclair State 32-yard field goal (wide right)
FG: Montclair State 37-yard field goal (wide left)
FG: Montclair State 33-yard field goal (wide left)