Northern Manhattan Neighbors Appreciation Day | Season Opener
Saturday, September 16, 2017 | 1 p.m. ET | Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
Wagner (1-1, 0-1 NEC)
WagnerColumbia
Columbia (3-7, 2-5 Ivy)

NEW YORK—Columbia opens its 127th football season when it hosts Wagner (1-1, 0-1 NEC) on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.

WHERE TO LISTEN/WATCH

Sportsnet NY (SNY) and the Ivy League Digital Network will televise the game live with Eamon McAnaney (play-by-play) and former Columbia and three-year NFL veteran Jeff Adams (color analyst) calling action. Sol Steinberg will produce. Jay Alter (play-by-play) and former Columbia football player Ted Gregory (color analyst) will call action on the Columbia Online Radio Network available at www.gocolumbialions.com. Distribution for SNY is 12 million homes across the country and eight million households in the Greater New York City metropolitan area.

WATCH ALL ILN GAMES ON THE IVY LEAGUE NETWORK MOBILE APP

The new Ivy League Network (ILN) mobile app is now available for download on both iOS and Android devices at this link.

ABOUT THE LIONS

There is reason for optimism as Columbia opens its 2017 season. The Lions return 13 starters (seven on offense and six on defense) and 57 lettermen to a youthful and talented team that finished 3-7 overall and tied for a sixth place finish in the Ivy League with a 2-5 mark.

The 2016 Lions concluded their season with a victory at Brown, while five of their seven losses were decided by 10 or fewer points. Three All-Ivy League picks return in sophomore placekicker Oren Milstein, senior defensive back Cameron Roane and senior defensive lineman Lord Hyeamang. Additionally, Columbia will return players who accounted for 88 percent (162 of 185) of its points scored, 82 percent (1,651 of 2,014) of its passing yards, 51 percent (1,037 of 2,014) of its receiving yards, 60 percent (3 of 5) of its starters on the offensive line and 49 percent (333 of 680) of its tackles in 2016.

Columbia’s spread offense will rely upon second-year starting quarterback Anders Hill (Sr., 6-4, 220) who has started eight consecutive games. Wide receivers Josh Wainwright (So., 5-11, 175), Ronald Smith (So., 6-2, 190) and Christian Everett (So., 6-2, 200) all return, along with running backs Tanner Thomas (So., 5-10, 190), Chris Schroer (Sr., 6-0, 215) and Lynnard Rose (So., 6-, 185).

Four starters are back on the offensive line, including Bewley Wales (Sr., 6-5, 300), Charlie Flores (Sr., 6-4, 300), Tyler Schonewolf (Jr., 6-3, 280) and Markham Paukune (Sr., 6-4, 290) along with sophomore tight end Rory Schlageter (6-3, 240).

On defense, Columbia’s 4-3 is bolstered by its veteran defensive line, which returns all four starters and seven of its top eight performers from a year ago including starters Hyeamang (Sr., 6-4, 285), Dominic Perkovic (Sr., 6-6, 270), Connor Heeb (Sr., 6-4, 255) and Mike Hinton (Jr., 6-4, 250). Sophomores Daniel DeLorenzi (6-2, 255) and Arman Samouk (6-1, 270) and senior Ian Tyler (6-5, 250) also return to the squad.

The Lions will debut a youthful linebacker corps led by Jalen Williams (So., 6-0, 220), Michael Murphy (So., 5-11, 200), Sean White (Jr., 6-3, 240) and Parker Tobia (Sr., 6-1, 225), along with several newcomers. Columbia also returns Roane at cornerback, Landon Baty (Sr., 5-10, 195) at safety and fifth-year player Denzel Hill (Sr., 6-3, 200) at cornerback.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS

Wagner enters its third game of the 2017 season with a 1-1 record after defeating Saint Anselm 37-7 in its opener and dropping a 31-6 decision at NEC defending champion Saint Francis. The Seahawks are led by quarterback Alex Thomson, who has passed for 311 yards and a touchdown on 27 of 46 attempts. Thomson suffered an injury during the Seahawks’ game at Saint Francis and was replaced by Luke Massei, who passed for 121 yards and completed 10 of 16 passes.

Ryan Fuse (22 rushes, 89 yards, TD) and Denzel Knight (20 carries, 63 yards, 3 TD) lead the rushing attack, while D’Erren Wilson (14 receptions, 168 yards, TD), Willie Dale (seven catches, 82 yards) and Adam Giordano (six catches, 97 yards) are team’s leading receivers. Santoni Graham (17 tackles), Quinton Hampton (16 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 5.0 TFL) and Kiser Terry (11 tackles) lead the Seahawk defense. Wagner is coached by third-year head coach Jason Houghtaling.

BAGNOLI BEGINS THIRD SEASON AT HELM

Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli is in his third season guiding the Columbia Football program. In his 36th year as a head coach, Bagnoli owns a 240-113 overall record and previously led Penn to nine Ivy League titles. He has turned football programs around at both Union College, N.Y. and Penn, where he guided the Quakers to nine Ivy League championships.

In Ivy League records, he ranks among all-time Ivy League coaches in league titles (tied for No. 2 with 9), most games overall coached in the Ivy League (No. 2 at 248), most games coached vs. Ivy League teams (No. 2 with 175), most overall coaching wins in the Ivy League (No. 3 at 153), most coaching wins vs. Ivy League teams (No. 2 with 115) and most seasons coached in the Ivy League (No. 4 at 25). Nationally and combining all NCAA levels, Bagnoli ranks No. 6 among winningest active college coaches by victories with 240. Among national FCS coaches, Bagnoli currently ranks No. 3 among winningest active coaches with 240 wins and No. 11 among all-time winningest FCS coaches by victories (240).

Bagnoli’s players have also achieved success with three former players taken in the NFL Draft, 23 have signed NFL free agent contracts, five have won the Ivy League’s Bushnell Cup Awards, eight have earned First Team All-America honors, 125 were All-Ivy League First Team selections and 203 earned All-Ivy League honors.

In his 36 years as a head coach, Bagnoli has experienced only four seasons of sub-.500 football.

CLOSE CALLS AND TIGHTLY CONTESTED GAMES

Since Al Bagnoli took over as head coach, Columbia has been competitive in almost every game. Of Columbia’s last 15 losses, 11 have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

Five of Columbia’s seven losses in 2016 were decided by 10 points or less, while Columbia’s average margin of loss in 2016 was 12.0. A 35-point loss to Princeton on Oct. 1, 2016 and a 25-point loss at Penn on Oct. 25, 2016 were uncharacteristic of Bagnoli’s teams at Columbia. Additionally, the Lions were competitive in every game in 2015, Bagnoli’s first season at Columbia, as six of their eight losses were decided by 10 points or less. In contrast, during its 10 losses in 2014, Columbia lost all 10 games by a combined 28.6 points per loss.

Since Bagnoli became Columbia’s head coach at the start of the 2015 season, 13 of Columbia’s 20 total games have been decided by 10 points or less. Columbia has also won five of those contests.

SEASON OPENERS

Columbia’s last victory in a season opener came on September 15, 2012 when the Lions toppled Marist 10-9. The Lions are looking to snap a four-game losing streak on opening day.

Columbia enters the 2017 season on a one-game win streak after concluding the 2016 season with a 31-13 win at Brown. The last time Columbia won at least two consecutive games was in 2010 when the Lions were victorious in three straight games from Sept. 25-Oct. 16 (Sept. 25 vs. Towson, 24-10; Oct. 2 vs. Princeton, 42-14; Oct. 9 vs. Lafayette, 42-28).

COLUMBIA-WAGNER SERIES

Columbia and Wagner meet for the third time in football and third time in as many years. Columbia enters its game against Wagner with a 2-0 record vs. Seahawks. Last year, Columbia registered a 15-13 win at Wagner as Lions placekicker Oren Milstein kicked a school-record five field goals, including the game-winner. Saturday’s game marks the second time the two schools will meet at Robert K. Kraft Field. The two schools first met in football on Oct. 10, 2015 at Robert K. Kraft Field as Columbia won a 26-3 victory. That victory was Head Coach Al Bagnoli’s first win at Columbia. The 26-3 win marked Columbia’s largest  margin of victory since a 42-14 triumph over Princeton on Oct. 2, 2010.

COLUMBIA VS. THE NORTHEAST CONFERENCE

The Lions enter 2017 with a 3-3 all-time record against opponents from the Northeast Conference. In 2016, Columbia went 1-1 against NEC opponents, dropping a 13-9 season opener to Saint Francis U, Pa. and defeating Wagner 15-13 in October. In 2015, Columbia picked up its first win of the season against cross-borough foe Wagner at home. That win marked Columbia’s first victory against an NEC opponent since it defeated Duquesne 23-13 in 2005.

COLUMBIA-WAGNER: A LOOK BACK AT LAST YEAR’S 15-13 WIN

Placekicker Oren Milstein converted a school-record five field goals and running back Alan Watson ran for a career-high 107 yards as Columbia posted a 15-13 come-from-behind football victory over Wagner at Wagner College Stadium.

With Columbia trailing 13-12, Milstein kicked a 36-yard field goal to give Columbia a 15-12 fourth quarter lead. The field goal was set up by a 28-yard run from quarterback Anders Hill and a 21-yard run from Watson. Milstein, whose five field goals came at 18, 33, 39, 18 and 36 yards, set school records for field goals made (five) and most points scored by kicking (15). His five field goals surpassed the previous record of four set by Nick Rudd (vs. Princeton, 2003) and Howard Miller (vs. Wesleyan, 1915) and his 15 points set Rudd’s kick scoring record of 13 points in 2003. Milstein’s first field goal of the evening marked the first of his career.

Wagner (3-2) had one last drive which started with 2:28 to go. The Seahawks converted on a fourth and 10 when quarterback Alex Thomson threw the ball up for grabs and landed in receiver John Williams’ hands for a 25-yard gain. Thomson completed two more passes and drove Wagner down to Columbia’s 35-yard line. On a third down, Columbia linebacker Gianmarco Rea sacked Thomson for a seven-yard loss and a fourth down pass fell incomplete.

Columbia’s defense played a key role allowing no points, three first downs and only 63 yards in the second half. Two of those first downs came on Wagner’s final series. The defense forced and recovered a fumble early in the game, totaled 9.0 tackles for loss for 39 yards, five sacks and forced nine quarterback hurries. On offense, Columbia was a perfect 3-3 on fourth down conversions and a perfect 5-5 in the red zone. Watson finished with 107 yards on 23 carries, Hill ran for 59 yards on 23 carries and completed 16 of 29 passes for 129 yards and Josh Wainwright caught a career-high 10 passes for 81 yards.

Wagner took a 10-3 lead with 9:07 left in the second quarter when Matthias McKinnon caught a screen pass from quarterback Alex Thomson and wove through the Columbia defense for a 47-yard touchdown reception. The play occurred on a third and long situation and culminated a seven play, 74-yard drive.

COLUMBIA SECURES BACK-TO-BACK TOP-25 RECRUITING CLASSES; CLASS OF 2017 RANKS NO. 25 NATIONALLY

Columbia Football’s 31-member Class of 2021 was ranked No. 25 nationally in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision by Hero Sports as writer Brian McLaughlin comments and notes that “Bagnoli hauls in his second straight stellar class.”

It was the second consecutive top-25 recruiting class for Columbia as the Class of 2016, Bagnoli’s first full recruiting class, was ranked No. 3 in the FCS by 247Sports.com Saturday Blitz. Both of these classes represent the highest-ever ranked recruiting classes in Columbia’s football history. They will also form the foundation for Bagnoli and the coaching staff to turn around the program.

Columbia Football’s Class of 2021 is comprised of student-athletes from 18 different states including five from Florida, three each from New Jersey and California and two athletes apiece from Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan and Tennessee. In addition, Columbia’s Football Class of 2021 consists of 14 All-State honorees, 11 student-athletes who guided their high school teams to either a state title or state finals appearance, 19 team captains, 24 multi-sport athletes, 27 players who earned all-conference honors along with one transfer student-athlete.

Two first-years are listed on Columbia’s first depth chart: Will Allen (starting kickoff returner) and Emerson Kabus (backup kickoff returner/backup wide receiver).

SOPHOMORE CLASS MAKES IMMEDIATE IMPACT IN 2016

Columbia’s 2016 recruiting class made an immediate impact last season as 21 players out of the 41-member class earned prominent playing time as first-years in 2016. At the skill positions, Tanner Thomas and Lynnard Rose saw significant action at running back, while Josh Wainwright, Ronald Smith and Christian Everett made major contributions at receiver.

Twelve freshmen concluded the year listed on the depth chart. First-years listed on the 2016 depth chart included Smith (WR), Wainwright (WR, KR, PR), Jalen Williams (LB), Christian Everett (WR), Parker Coogan (C), Oren Milstein (PK), Tanner Thomas (RB), Lynnard Rose (RB/PR/KR), Michael Murphy (LB), Hunter Lunsford (SS), Daniel DeLorenzi (DL), Rory Schlageter (TE) and Arman Samouk (DL).

ANDERS HILL BACK AT QUARTERBACK FOR LIONS

For the second straight year senior Anders Hill is back as Columbia’s starting quarterback. He returns to anchor an offense that improved with every game in 2016. It also the second consecutive year that Columbia is in the same offensive set.

Starting eight of 10 games in 2016, Hill completed 144 of 268 passes for 1,651 yards and 10 touchdowns and also rushed for 258 yards on 132 carries and two touchdowns. He ranked among Ivy League leaders in several categories including passing average (No. 6 at 165.1), passing efficiency (No. 7 at 111.8) and total offense (No. 5 at 190.9).

Most impressive and most memorable is what Hill accomplished over Columbia’s final three games of the 2016 season against Harvard, Cornell and Brown - a period which saw him complete 60 percent (49 of 82) of his passes for 616 yards, six touchdowns and only four interceptions. Hill, who has started eight straight games, has improved in virtually every aspect including his conditioning and strength.

COLUMBIA BRINGS THE DEFENSE

Over the last two seasons, Columbia’s defense has proved to be a team strength. Defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro led a unit that ranked among the nation’s best in several statistical categories including third down conversion defense (No. 5, 29.3), first down defense (No. 7, 177.0) and team tackles for loss (No. 14, 7.6 per game). In addition, Columbia ranked a respectable No. 39 in total defense (354.9 yards allowed per game) and No. 43 in scoring defense (24.7 points per game allowed).

Ferraro returns six starters from the 2016 team, including all four defensive linemen: Dominic Perkovic, Ivy League Second Team pick Lord Hyeamang, Connor Heeb and Mike Hinton, along with defensive backs in Ivy League Second Team selection Cameron Roane and Landon Baty. Additionally, the Lions return seven of their top-8 defensive linemen, five linebackers with in-game experience and senior cornerback Denzel Hill, who emerged at the tailend of 2016. Most importantly, the Lions must find a way to replace the loss of three starting linebackers—Ivy League First Team selection Gianmarco Rea, Keith Brady and Christian Conway—who anchored last year’s defense by accounting for 36 percent of the Lions’ total tackles.

Success on third down was a strength of last year’s defense as Columbia led the league and ranks No. 5 nationally on third down efficiency, holding opponents to a 29.3 percent conversion rate (49-166).

Columbia’s defensive success is a carryover from the 2015 season—Ferraro’s first season at Columbia—which saw a tremendous leap in defensive efficiency, as Columbia improved from the 115th best team in total defense in 2014, to the No. 8 ranked team at 291.1 yards per game a season ago.

The Lions also yielded just 19.8 points per game which ranked as the FCS’s No. 17 best tally, while holding opponents to 13 points or less four times. It also ranked No. 2 in the Ivy League in total defense and led the conference in pass defense (186.9 yards per game). In addition, Columbia ranked No. 8 nationally in rushing defense (103.4 yards per game), No. 5 in third down conversion defense (.265) and No. 3 in first down conversion defense (148). The defense also accumulated 23 sacks for 140 yards, which ranked No. 4 in the Ivy League.

WIDE RECEIVER TANDEM BACK

Columbia returns its two most productive and most dangerous wide receivers from last year in sophomores Josh Wainwright and Ronald Smith II. The duo enters the upcoming campaign as a bit of an unknown league-wide as most of their key performances occurred during the back end of the 2016 season.

In nine games, Wainwright led the team in receptions (42), receiving yards (515) and touchdown receptions (5) in 2016. He also caught a touchdown pass in each of Columbia’s last three games and also finished second on the squad in all-purpose yardage with 800. He finished fifth in the Ivy League in both receptions per game and receiving yards per game, seventh in the league in all-purpose yards per game and also caught an 88-yard touchdown reception, Columbia’s longest scoring play of 2016.

In only five games and two starts, Smith led Columbia in yards per reception (16.3) and receiving yards per game (68.4) while finishing with 21 catches for 342 yards and four touchdowns. His most outstanding performance came in an 11-catch, 195-yard outing vs. Cornell last year.

DEFENSIVE LINE IS TEAM STRENGTH

Upon entering the 2017 season, Columbia’s defensive line is easily the Lions’ most experienced and deepest position group. Columbia Defensive Line Coach Darin Edwards returns a host of lineman to the squad in 2017. All four starters and seven of its eight top players return to the squad including Second Team All-Ivy League selection Lord Hyeamang, senior Dominic Perkovic, senior Connor Heeb and junior Mike Hinton. A senior, Hyeamang ranked sixth on the team in tackles with 38 (17 solo) and fourth on the team in tackles for loss (7.0-22), along with a forced a fumble in 2017. He was named one of four team captains this spring. Another defensive tackle, Perkovic started seven of eight games and contributed 31 tackles (12 solo) and 3.5 for loss while battling injuries in 2016. Both Heeb (22 tackles) and Hinton (16 tackles) started all 10 games at defensive end last year.

But it doesn’t end there. In addition to the starters, several returning players earned significant playing time last season. Those players include senior Alex Holme, sophomore Daniel DeLorenzi, sophomore Arman Samouk and senior Ian Tyler. Holme, who made 24 tackles in 10 games and three starts last year is basically a fifth starter, stalwart on the line and key contributor on special teams. DeLorenzi, who saw action in nine games and emerged as the season wore on, was a terror last year on third down as he led the Lions in both sacks (5-23) and quarterback hurries (seven). He also made 16 tackles, including 6.0 for loss. Samouk played in nine of 10 games last season and made eight tackles with one sack. Tyler contributed 10 tackles last year.

MILSTEIN IMPRESSES DURING FIRST SEASON AS PLACEKICKER

Unanimous First Team All-Ivy League selection and sophomore Oren Milstein returns as Columbia’s placekicker after a breakout 2016 season. Last year, Milstein converted 12 of 13 field goals and finished a perfect 16-16 on point after attempts. A candidate for the Fred Mitchell Award (national placekicker of the year), Milstein ranked among national leaders in both field goal percentage (No. 2 at .923) and field goals per game (No. 15 at 1.23), while leading the Ivy League in field goals (12), field goal percentage (.923) and placing second in kick scoring (5.7 ppg.). He also led the Lions in scoring (52 points) and kicked two clutch game-winning field goals in wins over Wagner and Dartmouth.

A two-time Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week dual honoree, Milstein also set school records for most field goals made (5 at Wagner, Oct. 8), and most kick scoring points scored in a game (15 at Wagner, Oct. 8).

CASTNER EMERGES AS KEY WIDE RECEIVER

The surprise of Columbia’s preseason has been junior Kyle Castner, who has made a position switch from quarterback to wide receiver last spring. Prior to last spring, Castner had never played wide receiver, instead spending his entire football career as a quarterback. He was recruited as a QB out of Indianapolis Ben Davis High School, where as a three-year starter at quarterback, concluded his career with a 28-7 career record, 6,944 yards passing and 63 touchdowns - both school records. He spent his first two years at Columbia as a backup quarterback.

Kyle Castner’s transition has been unbelievable,” Wide Receivers Coach Todd Gilcrist said. “It’s a situation where he never played the position before. He had a spring where he showed some flashes of some skills, worked on it this summer and came back here and positioned himself as one of the top receivers.”

YOUTHFUL LINEBACKER CORPS

Columbia lost all three of its starting linebackers from the 2016 team. All three graduated and were at least two-year starters. Those players include First Team All-Ivy League selection and middle linebacker Gianmarco Rea and outside linebackers Keith Brady and Christian Conway. A candidate for Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, Rea enjoyed one of the best defensive seasons ever experienced by a Columbia player as he led the Ivy League in tackles (108), ranked 12th nationally in solo tackles (5.8 per game), led the Lions and ranked No. 23 nationally in tackles for loss (15-46), made five sacks and six quarterback hurries. He also reached double figure tackles in nine of 10 games on the year and concluded his four-year 35-game career with 218 tackles (110 solo), 20 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. Brady ranked third on the team in tackles (71) and totaled 9.5 tackles for loss, while Conway contributed 65 tackles (35 solo), four sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Those three players accounted 36 percent (244 of 680) of Columbia’s tackles and comprised three of the team’s top four tacklers in 2016. Their experience will be difficult to replace.

Replacing Columbia’s trio is a talented and athletic group who all have collegiate game experience. Among those challenging for starting roles and playing time include sophomore middle linebacker Jalen Williams, sophomore Michael Murphy, junior Sean White and senior Parker Tobia. Last year, Williams played in eight games, made five tackles and contributed primarily on special teams. He is a prime candidate to replace Rea at middle linebacker. Murphy made seven tackles in seven games and also saw action on special teams, while White saw action in nine games. Tobia is a three-year senior who has seen action at both linebacker and on special teams.

LIONS IN THE NFL

Three former Columbia football players saw action on National Football League teams during preseason 2017 including linebacker Joshua Martin (New York Jets), offensive lineman Jeff Adams (New York Jets) and offensive lineman Kendall Pace (Washington Redskins). Martin remains with the Jets as their starting linebacker.

Over the last 13 years, Columbia has placed 10 players on NFL rosters. Throughout its football history, Columbia has had 40 student-athletes go on to play in the NFL. A total of 12 Lions have been taken in the NFL Draft. Some of Columbia’s most notable and longest tenured NFL players include: Josh Martin (five years), Marcellus Wiley (11 years), John Witkowski (four years), George Starke (11 years), Marty Domres (eight years), Paul Governali (three years), Johnny Siegal (four years), Bil Swiacki (five years) and Sid Luckman (11 years). Columbia’s all-time highest NFL Draft picks include first-rounders Sid Luckman, Paul Governali and Marty Domres, along with second-round pick Marcellus Wiley.

COLUMBIA DEFEATS MONTCLAIR STATE 26-10 IN SCRIMMAGE

Columbia registered a 26-10 preseason scrimmage win over Montclair State as nearly 100 Lions football players saw game action on Sept. 1 at Robert K. Kraft Field.

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.

COLUMBIA SIGNS TV DEAL WITH SNY 

Five Columbia Football games will be televised live on SportsNet NY (SNY) this fall, Columbia University Athletics announced on Sept. 8. With the agreement, SNY will also televise Columbia men’s and women’s basketball games.

The five games that will be carried on SNY are: Wagner (Saturday, Sept. 16), Georgetown (Saturday, Sept. 23), at Yale (Saturday, Oct. 28), at Cornell (Saturday, Nov. 11) and Brown (Saturday, Nov. 18). The five games will also be simulcast live on the Ivy League Network subject to local streaming blackout rules.

With a total distribution of nearly 12 million homes, SNY is available to viewers throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Northeastern Pennsylvania for a regional reach of 8.0 million households. Combined with national coverage on DIRECTV, Verizon FiOS, Comcast Cable and AT&T U-Verse, SNY’s total distribution is 12 million homes. SNY is the official television home of the New York Mets, New York Jets and all things New York sports. As New York’s leader in local sports TV coverage, SNY delivers the most comprehensive access to all of the Tri-State area’s professional and collegiate sports teams through several nightly sports and entertainment programs.

ALL 10 COLUMBIA GAMES TO BE TELEVISED

With the addition of the five SNY games, all 10 Columbia Football games in 2017 will be aired live on a television network. As part of the Ivy League Network agreement, Eleven Sports Network will broadcast four Columbia football games including at Princeton (Sept. 30), Penn (Oct. 14), at Dartmouth (Oct. 21) and Harvard (Nov. 4). Columbia’s game at Marist on Oct. 7 will be aired on the Red Fox Network.

COLUMBIA: PUNTER U

Two former Columbia punters—2016 seniors Cameron Nizialek and Matt Panton—are now starting punters at their respective Southeastern Conference schools. Both players were given a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA, but had expired their fourth year of Ivy League football. Nizialek, who led the Ivy League in punting average and earned Ivy League Second Team honors last year, is now attending graduate school and punting for Georgia, while Panton is attending grad school at Kentucky. Kentucky plays at Georgia on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017.

LIONS CONCLUDE PRESEASON DRILLS WITH ALUMNI DRAFT, KICKOFF BARBECUE

Columbia concluded its 2017 preseason camp with its fifth annual Columbia Football Players Club Alumni Player Draft and Kickoff Barbecue on Saturday at Columbia’s Baker Athletics Complex.

Prior to the Kickoff Barbecue, the Columbia Football Players Club held its Alumni Player Draft. As part of the event, members of the Columbia Football Players Club draft first-year members of the Columbia team to mentor throughout their four years at Columbia. On Saturday, 31 first-years were “drafted” by 31 attending alumni members. Players were selected through a mock NFL Draft and several alumni members attended the draft via conference call. Participants can “improve” their position in the draft by donating money in order to move up in draft position. Following the conclusion of the draft, alumni attended the team’s Kickoff Barbecue and met their draftees.

The Alumni Player Draft immediately connects multiple decades of players, provides mentorship and guidance to the current Columbia student-athletes, allows for career guidance and is an inexpensive way for football alums to stay involved. In total, the Columbia Football Players Club received $12,900 in donations in the hour-and-a-half draft.

WHAT THEY’VE SAID ABOUT COLUMBIA IN 2016

“Columbia fans should be very proud. That program is going in the right direction with a Hall of Fame coach. Their defense didn’t give us much. It was a hard-fought, physical game. That’s a good Columbia football team over there. The future is very bright and there’s a lot of victories ahead for that team.”

- Saint Francis head coach Chris Villarrial.

“I think Al Bagnoli was sort of the Division III version of Nick Saban 30 years ago. He had a program that was perfectly designed from top to bottom, and he had great players. I think that was because he had the entire college on board with what he was trying to do.”

-Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated

“I give Columbia credit. They did some nice things, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and got out of here with a win. So, my hat’s off to them. We knew coming in they were a team that was better than their record.”

-Jason Houghtaling, Wagner Head Coach

“I give Columbia credit. Columbia was very efficient offensively, their kicking game was solid and they played lights out on defense. They deserved to win. They shut us down offensively. Defensively, if you hold a team to nine points, you figure you’re going to win those games. It wasn’t through lack of effort, they beat us.”

-Buddy Teevens, Dartmouth Head Coach

CAPTAINS SELECTED

Columbia selected four captains for the 2017 season: defensive back Landon Baty, quarterback Anders Hill, defensive lineman Lord Hyeamang and offensive lineman Bewley Wales. All four are seniors and were named captains during spring drills.

OFFENSIVE LINE FEATURES EXPERIENCED UNIT

Once again, offensive line is one of Columbia’s most seasoned and experienced position groups. The Lions return four starters from 2016. Columbia’s four returning offensive line starters are senior left tackle Bewley Wales, senior left guard Charlie Flores, junior center Tyler Schonewolf and senior right tackle Markham Paukune. These four veterans enter the 2016 season with a combined 57 career starts and a combined 75 career games played.

A four-year starter, leader of the group and one of four team captains is senior Bewley Wales. Wales has started all 30 games of his career on the offensive line while playing a different position each year. As a first-year, he started 10 games at left guard, moved to center as a sophomore and started all 10 games at right tackle. Now, he moves to left tackle. In addition, Wales has started 30 consecutive games.

At left guard, Flores has made 15 career starts and played in all 20 games of his career. He missed his sophomore season due to injury. A senior, Flores has an extra year of eligibility remaining. At center, Schonewolf started all 10 games last year. At right tackle, Paukune started two games and has played in 15 career contests. Paukune and Flores both played on the same offensive line in high school (All Saints Episcopal in Fort Worth, Texas) and won back-to-back state titles while winning 22 straight games. The newest member of the starting five is sophomore right guard Parker Coogan, who has made great strides in the weight room. Coogan served as Columbia’s backup center last year.

BAGNOLI AND PENN

On October 14, Columbia will host Penn at Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium for its 2017 Homecoming Game. The matchup will be the third matchup between Bagnoli and his former employer where he spent 23 seasons as the Quakers’ head coach from 1992-2014.  In 23 seasons, Bagnoli guided Penn to nine Ivy League championships (1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012), a 148-89 overall record and 112-49 Ivy League record. He also led Penn to three undefeated seasons (10-0 in 1993, 9-0 in 1994 and 10-0 in 2003), 12 years of seven or more victories and six perfect 7-0 Ivy League slates. Bagnoli also guided Penn on the longest winning streak in FCS history (24 wins from 1993-95).

LIONS PICKED SEVENTH IN IVY LEAGUE

Columbia was picked to finish seventh out of eight teams in the Ivy League’s annual preseason poll, voted upon by media members covering the conference and announced on August 8, 2017.

Princeton and Harvard were picked to win the league in a tie with 120 total points. Princeton finished with six first place votes, while Harvard had five first place votes. Princeton and Harvard were followed by No. 3 Penn (five first-place votes) with 110 points, No. 4 Yale with 71 points and  No. 5 Dartmouth with 60 points.

Here is a look at the predicted order: 1. Princeton (6 first place votes) 120 points; 2. Harvard (5), 120; 3. Penn (5), 110; 4. Yale, 71; 5. Dartmouth, 60; 6. Brown (1), 57; 7. Columbia, 38; 8. Cornell, 36.

PRESEASON ACCOLADES

A total of five Lions were named to the College Sports Madness preseason All-Ivy League team, headlined by senior cornerback Cameron Roane and sophomore placekicker Oren Milstein, who were both named first team selections. Earning second team honors were senior defensive lineman Lord Hyeamang, sophomore defensive lineman Daniel DeLorenzi, while sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright was a third team honoree.

COACHING CONTIUNITY, STAFF REMAINS INTACT

For the second straight year, Columbia’s coaching staff remains intact. Prior to the 2016 season, Running Backs Coach/Passing Game Coordinator John Audino and Quarterbacks Coach Ricky Santos joined Bagnoli’s staff. The rest of the staff arrived at Columbia with Bagnoli shortly after his hiring in February 2015. In the offseason, the Lions added Defensive Assistant Andrae Murphy.

SEASON NO. 127

This year marks the 146th anniversary of Columbia’s first intercollegiate football game against Rutgers in 1870, one year after the first college game between Rutgers and Princeton. Columbia’s first Ivy League game was against Princeton in 1874. 2017 is the 127th competitive season of Columbia football.

FRIDAY’S ON THE LAWN

Columbia continues its tradition of conducting a Friday walk-through on the university’s main campus lawn prior to home football games. The event is open to the public.

COLUMBIA COMPLETES IMPRESSIVE 2017 SPRING GAME

Quarterback Anders Hill threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score as Columbia completed its 12-practice spring schedule with its annual Buffalo Wild Wings Spring Football Game on April 15 at Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium. The spring game marked the final of 12 NCAA mandated spring practices for the Lions. It was actually the second spring scrimmage for the program as it brought in officials last Sunday for a 60-play scrimmage. Following the scrimmage, attendees were invited to Columbia Football’s annual cookout.

In a pass-heavy scrimmage, Hill was efficient as he completed 14 of 23 passes for 197 yards in six series of action. His first touchdown pass was a 22-yarder to Christian Everett on his second series of the scrimmage. On the second play of his third series, he faked a handoff and ran for a 10-yard touchdown. Then later in the scrimmage, he found receiver Kaleb Pitts open in the corner of the end zone for a 33-yard TD pitch and catch.

Leading the Lions in receptions was Josh Wainwright, who caught a game-high five passes for 60 yards. In addition, Everett made four receptions for a game-best 77 yards and a touchdown, Tre Gabriel finished with four catches for 26 yards and Pitts added two receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. Van Neils led the Lions in rushing with 12 carries for 42 yards.

Defensive highlights for the Lions included a safety, two interceptions, nine pass breakups and two sacks. Cornerback Cameron Roane tackled Wainwright in the end zone for a safety. Tyler Holmes intercepted both passes, the first in which he anticipated the play and stepped in to catch the ball. Nine different players either blocked passes or batted away balls in the backfield.

Roane, Jacob Young and Ryan Gilbert both led the Lions with four tackles apiece, while Hunter Lunsford, Benjamin McKeighan and Michael Murphy each finished with three tackles. Placekicker Oren Milstein converted two field goals, including a 32-yarder and 45-yarder.

IVY LEAGUE EXPERIMENTAL RULES

For the second year, the Ivy League will use experimental rules which move kickoffs to the 40-yard line and touchbacks to the 20-yard line in an effort to reduce concussions and further promote the safety and welfare of its student-athletes. These rules will only be used in Ivy League games. The goal of the experimental rule is to limit kickoff returns, which account for 23.4 percent of concussions during games despite representing only 5.8 percent of overall plays. The League will evaluate the concussion and kickoff return data after the 2016 season.

The request was made to the NCAA as a part of The Ivy League’s overall review of concussions, which began with football in 2010 and has included eight other sports to date (men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, wrestling and rugby). As a result of this comprehensive review of concussions, the League began an all-sports concussion data collection and study in 2013. Data from this study prompted discussion of kickoffs, which led to The Ivy League head football coaches suggesting this experimental rule change. The NCAA granted The League’s request for conference games only.

This experimental rule is the latest in a series of Ivy policies and rules that are designed to limit the incidence of concussions. The Ivy League formally adopted another policy originating with the League’s eight head football coaches to eliminate to-the-ground (“live”) tackling in practices during the regular season, which will also go into effect with the 2016 campaign. Changing practice rules does not require NCAA approval. In addition, the Ivy League eliminated two-a-day practices during preseason with the 2017 season.

BILL CAMPBELL NO. 67 FEATURED ON JERSEYS

For the second consecutive year and for all of its 31 varsity sports, Columbia will wear a No. 67 patch on its uniform in honor of former Lion player, coach, confidante and friend Bill Campbell, who passed away in April, 2016 at age 75. The Lion football team will also feature 67 stickers on helmets.

A four-year student-athlete, Campbell captained the 1961 Ivy League Championship football team, which was inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010 and earned All-Ivy League accolades as a senior. In 1963, Bill and a group of football and rugby alumni founded the Old Blue Rugby Club. He returned to Columbia to coach the Columbia Football team for six seasons between 1974 and 1979.

Campbell made his mark in the business world and became known as the “Coach of Silicon Valley.” He was vice president at J. Walter Thompson, an advertising agency based in New York, and then moved on to become general manager of consumer products for Kodak Europe. After Kodak, he joined Apple Computer in 1983, and rose to the level of executive vice president; he went on to found and served as president and CEO of Claris Corporation, a spin-off software developing company created and owned by Apple in 1990. Campbell assumed his role as chairman of Intuit, the maker of Quicken, QuickBooks, and Turbo Tax, in 1998 and served as its CEO until 2000. As an executive, Campbell’s marketing and strategic acumen helped build Claris, Apple, and Intuit alike into remarkable Silicon Valley success stories.

Because of his tremendous leadership and passion for Columbia Athletics, the University dedicated the Campbell Sports Center in his honor in October 2013. In fall 2014, the athletics program retired uniform number 67 – the number Campbell wore as an offensive lineman and linebacker for the 1961 Ivy League Champions - for all 31 of Columbia’s varsity teams. At the 2015 Varsity C Celebration, the athletics program introduced a new award, the William V. Campbell Performer of the Year to be presented annually to the top male and female student-athletes of the academic year.

BUBBLE AT BAKER OPENED IN JANUARY, 2017

Columbia varsity sports teams now have access to a brand-new indoor winter practice facility as the University officially opened its Seasonal Air-Supported Structure (SASS) at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium in January 2017.

Located at Columbia’s Baker Athletics Complex (corner of Broadway and 218th Street) and adjacent to the Campbell Sports Center, the Bubble at Baker is a heated air-supported dome enclosing Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium and field. The facility also features a brand-new Field Turf Revolution 360 playing surface, which was installed in October. All seven of Columbia’s field sports teams housed at the Baker Athletics Complex (football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey and lacrosse) will receive access to the new indoor practice facility throughout the winter months. Starting next year, the bubble will be inflated each winter from December through March.

Funds for the Bubble at Baker project were raised by donors to Columbia Athletics.