PRINCETON, N.J. - In its Ivy League opener, Columbia emphatically defeated Princeton, 38-0, in the Lions' first road shutout of a league opponent since 1961.
Columbia (2-1, 1-0 Ivy League) used a balanced offensive attack, sparked by a career-high 201 passing yards by M.A. Olawale, 93 yards receiving by Austin Knowlin and 79 yards on the ground by Ray Rangel, who entered the game as the league's leading rusher.
But it was the defense that made the biggest statement of the game, time and time again halting Princeton's offensive momentum, while causing three turnovers that led to the first 17 points of the game for the Lions.
Columbia scored first, nine minutes into the game, after Alex Gross recovered a fumble by Princeton quarterback Tommy Wornham at the Princeton 19.
Four plays later, Olawale dove into the end zone for his third rushing touchdown of the season. The extra point was missed and Columbia held a 6-0 lead.
As it did for the entire game, the Columbia defense held Princeton (1-2, 0-1 Ivy League) at bay, causing another turnover late in the half that enabled Greg Guttas to convert a 26-yard field goal with a minute remaining in the first half to give the Lions a 9-0 lead at halftime.
The two teams each went three and out on their opening drives to start the second half. When Princeton got the ball back on its 32-yard line, the Tigers moved the ball to its 47 when Jared Morine picked off a Wornham pass at midfield and ran it back for his second interception return for a touchdown this season.
The Lions went for two and completed the conversion for a 17-0 advantage early in the third quarter.
After Morine's touchdown, Princeton embarked on a 13-play, 66-yard drive that Columbia's defense ultimately stopped at its own 22 when Wornham's fourth-down pass went incomplete.
The Lions took the ball and moved to midfield to end the quarter. Columbia faced a third and nine scenario at the 50-yard line to start the fourth quarter and Olawale found Mike Stephens in stride streaking down the right sideline to give the Lions a 24-0 lead.
Columbia's defense stopped Princeton on another fourth down opportunity on its next drive and regained possession at its own 34 and put the game away.
The Lions completed an eight-play drive when Olawale found Knowlin on a wideout screen at the 27-yard line, and Knowlin shook off a defender wrapped around his ankles and made a dive for the first pylon for his second touchdown in as many games.
With little more than two minutes remaining, Columbia rushed the ball 13 straight times, culminating in Leon Ivery's first collegiate touchdown, a one-yard plunge to cap the Lions' 38-0 victory.
Columbia returns to non-league play next Saturday at Lafayette in Easton, Pa. at 6 p.m.
- The win was Columbia's largest margin of victory since a season-opening 44-0 win over Fordham in 1972, and tied the Lions' second-biggest margin of victory ever over an Ivy League opponent (44-6 vs. Cornell, 1960). Columbia defeated Brown 50-0 during the 1961 season.
- It was Columbia's first win to start the Ivy League season since a 33-27 win at Princeton nearly six years ago today - October 4, 2003.
- The victory was Columbia's first Ivy League shutout win since 1998, when the Lions opened the season with a 24-0 win over Harvard. It was Columbia's first shutout in three years, a 24-0 win over Iona in Norries Wilson's first season.
- With seven catches, Knowlin moved to within one reception of Don Lewis '84CC for the all-time lead in career receptions at Columbia.