NEW YORK – Columbia's junior varsity scored 16 unanswered points after the first half and won its first JV game of the season, a 16-13 victory over visiting Bridgton Academy on Robert K. Kraft Field on a crisp fall afternoon.
After a scoreless first quarter, Bridgton quarterback Buddy Leathley scampered in for a five-yard touchdown with nine minutes left in the second quarter, giving the visitors a 7-0 advantage.
Bridgton found the end zone again eight minutes later, scoring on Leathley's eight-yard strike to Shane Ferguson. Bridgton missed the extra point, which would prove to be key, but was still ahead 13-0 at halftime.
The Lions were able to move the ball better in the second half, sparked by a 58-yard run by Leon Ivery, setting up Ivery's one-yard touchdown plunge to get Columbia within 13-6. The Lions failed to inch any closer when the snap on the ensuing extra point was fumbled.
Columbia's defense held strong in the second half, led by Josh Smith, who had six tackles, three for a loss, and two sacks during the game and Will Claunch, who posted a team-high 11 tackles. Craig Hamilton and Neil Schuster were impressive in the secondary, limiting the Bridgton offense to just three of 16 third-down conversions.
After Columbia started a fourth-quarter drive on Bridgton's 35-yard line, the Lions marched down the field, keyed by a 29-yard pass from Jerry Bell to Tyler Duffy. Two plays later, Gary Mesko scored on a one-yard run and Joe Stormont converted the extra point, tying the score at 13-all.
Bridgton received the ball to start overtime and the Columbia defense forced a change of possession on downs. Bridgton's defense appeared to hold strong as well, pushing the Lions back from the 25-yard line to the 30, setting up a long-range 47-yard attempt for Stormont, who earlier had a 25-yarder blocked.
With little wind to deal with, Stormont's 47-yarder split the uprights with room to spare, giving Columbia the win as the Lion sideline spilled out onto the field to mob Stormont.
Columbia's JV is next in action at home against Cornell on Friday, November 14.