NEW YORK - With 6:30 left in the game and Columbia ahead 10-3, Marist scored on a one-yard pass play to cut the score to 10-9 and appeared ready to tie the game with the ensuing extra point.
Wells Childress came flying in to get a hand on the exra point and keep the Lions in front, 10-9. Columbia held onto its late lead, thanks in large part to the running of Marcorus Garrett, who carried the ball 30 times for 115 yards and a score.
Columbia's defense played an outstanding all-around game, led by Zach Olinger, who made 10 tackles, two for a loss and had a sack and a critical interception in Columbia territory with three minutes left in the game.
"It takes every phase (to win), throughout the whole game," Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Pete Mangurian said. "You have to stay in the moment. You have to work series to series, quarter to quarter. And that is what these guys did. It's a tribute to how hard they've worked, and how they've bought into what we've asked them to do."
Marist led 3-0 on a 28-yard field goal by Jason Myers late in the first quarter. Marist took that 3-0 lead into the halftime break, with Columbia's defense holding Marist to 131 yards of total offense and producing three sacks. Marist held the Lions to 118 yards of offense, with three sacks, but Columbia's Marcorous Garrett had 75 yards on 16 carries.
Columbia started the second half with an 11-play, 87-yard drive that ended in Garrett's one-yard touchdown run and Luke Eddy's extra point. Columbia quarterback Sean Brackett found Connor Nelligan three times during the drive, each for over 12 yards, to give the Lions key first downs and move the chains to red zone. Garrett continued to be the work horse for Columbia, adding three rushes for 15 yards, including the touchdown to give the Lions a 7-3 lead.
Marist started the ensuing drive on its own 22, but after a false start and great stops by Olinger, Shad Sommers and Mike Waller, Marist was forced to punt. Marist's Myers caught a low snap and his knee hit the ground as he was trying to kick, downing himself at the Marist four yard line. Eddy hit the 22-yard field goal at 8:04 to give Columbia a 10-3 lead.
Marist drove down the field on the next possession, capitalizing on three first downs and on a 35-yard pass from Chuckie Looney to Mike Rios to the Columbia one-yard line. On first and goal from the one, Olinger hit Calvin McCoy and forced the fumble that Josh Martin recovered.
After each team had short series, Marist started a drive a their own 20. On six passes, Marist scored on a one-yard pass from Looney to Cotrone. Childress' blocked extra point saved Columbia's 10-9 lead with just over six minutes to play.
Columbia had a three and out series, punting to give the Marist the ball at their own 24-yard line. Looney hit Anthony Calcagni for a 37-yard gain in the first play of the drive. On fourth and 13, Looney's pass was tipped by Mike Waller and intercepted by Olinger to give Columbia the ball.
In a situation where all Columbia needed to do was get a couple of first downs, the Lions did just that. Brackett converted on a third and seven with an eight-yard rush and Garrett rushed for four on a third and three to give the Lions the win.
Overall Columbia had 17 first downs to Marist's 16. Columbia held Marist to 21 yards rushing, while totaling 123 yards on the ground. Marist had 293 yards passing to Columbia's 132 and 314 yards of total offense to 255 for Columbia.
Olinger led Columbia with 10 tackles (6 solo, 4 assisted), one sack, two TFL, one forced fumble and an interception. Paul Sakowski led Marist with 11 tackles (3 solo, 8 assisted). Garrett totaled the first hundred-yard game of his Columbia career with 115 yards on 30 rushes and a touchdown. Isaiah Gross had four catches for 63 yards to lead the receivers.
Columbia (1-0) plays Fordham (2-1) next week at 12:30 p.m. at Robert K. Kraft Field.