NEW YORK - Marcorus Garrett piled up more than 100 yards rushing for the second straight game and Columbia came within a hair of tying the game in the final two minutes. Sean Brackett's apparent 28-yard touchdown pass to Garrett in the back of the end zone was nullified after it was ruled the quarterback had passed the line of scrimmage, taking the potential game-tying score off the board.
Fordham regained possession with 1:17 left in the game and was able to come away with a 20-13 victory in Liberty Cup XII on Robert K. Kraft Field.
On a warm, cloudy Saturday afternoon, Fordham jumped out to a 14-3 lead on an 18-yard touchdown reception by running back Carlton Koonce, who also accumulated 250 yards and a score on the ground.
After a frenetic first quarter, the action subsided in the second quarter. With 34 seconds left, Luke Eddy's 24-yard field goal got Columbia within a point at 14-13. But Fordham was able to put together a quick five-play, 50-yard drive that allowed Patrick Murray to boot a 42-yard field goal with time expired in the first half. It allowed Fordham to hold a 17-13 lead at halftime.
On the opening drive of the second half, Columbia moved the ball 47 yards down the field but the drive stalled at the Fordham 28-yard line. It set up a long field goal that just went wide.
It was the best scoring opportunity for either team until the start of the fourth quarter when Fordham got the ball at Columbia's 41. Although the Lions' defense forced a three and out, Murray connected from 51 yards to put Fordham ahead by a touchdown, 20-13.
Columbia advanced the ball deep into Fordham territory on its final two drives. With the clock under five minutes remaining, Columbia had the ball at the Fordham 14 but Fordham's Michael Martin stripped the ball free on the next play and allowed the Rams to regain possession.
The Columbia defense forced another three and out on the next Fordham possession and allowed the Lions to take over the ball on its own 45-yard line.
Brackett found Isaiah Gross for 16 yards on a key fourth and 10 play that moved the ball into Fordham territory at the 39-yard line.
On a third and two from the 31, Brackett found DiNovo again for a critical first down. With Columbia down to its final shot, on fourth and 13 from the Fordham 28-yard line, Fordham came on a blitz and nearly had Brackett wrapped up but he was able to spin out of a potential sack. Brackett eluded another rusher and inadvertently ran past the line of scrimmage just before unleashing a perfect strike to Garrett in the back of the end zone. The Columbia fans started celebrating but the play was called back due to the illegal forward pass and Fordham regained possession to salt the game away.
Garrett rushed 30 times for 168 yards, while Koonce had 35 carries for 250 yards. Brackett finished with 249 yards passing and a score. Gross made six catches for 90 yards and DiNovo had five receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Columbia returns to action at home next Saturday, September 29 against Princeton in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Game time on Robert K. Kraft Field is 12:30 p.m.
ADDITIONAL GAME NOTES:
Zach Olinger totaled 10+ tackles for the second straight game with 14 and a quarterback hurry.
Columbia totaled nine tackles for a loss for 43 yards, added three fumble recoveries and three sacks.
Mike Waller had his first 10+ tackle game of the season with 10 and a TFL.