PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Junior Anders Hill threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns, freshman Josh Wainwright caught two touchdown passes and totaled a career-high 150 receiving yards and senior Alan Watson ran for a career-high 158 yards as Columbia held off Brown for a 31-13 win in its final game Saturday at Brown Stadium.
With 23 seniors competing in their last collegiate game, Columbia put together an impressive four-quarter performance as its offense totaled 419 yards of offense, dominated time of possession with four drives of 71 yards or more and rushed for a season-high 197 yards. The Columbia defense limited Brown to only 266 yards of offense, held the Bears to 2-15 on third down conversions and intercepted two passes.
The Lions took control in the first half as it built a 21-6 halftime lead by outgaining the host Bears 240-105 in total yardage and registering 12 first downs to Brown’s five. The Lions also overcame adversity in the form of a first quarter blocked punt in which their defense held Brown to a field goal and used a second quarter Denzel Hill interception to shift momentum and end a potential Brown scoring drive.
“I’m happy for our seniors,” Columbia Football Coach Al Bagnoli said. “All season, we tried to do a lot of things to validate progress and improvement. Given all the things that our seniors have been through; different head coaches, different coordinators, different systems, it’s great to send them out with a win and momentum. It took us 10 weeks to put a complete game together. Today, we hunkered down and overcame adversity early. I thought we played very solid on both offense and defense.”
Brown went up 3-0 on a 42-yard field goal by Ben Rosenblatt after the Bears blocked and recovered a Columbia punt at the Lions’ two-yard line. But the Columbia defense registered back-to-back tackles for losses by junior Alex Holme and senior Christian Conway and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty forced Brown into a field goal attempt.
Columbia (3-7, 2-5 Ivy League) received the ensuing kickoff and moved 80 yards in 14 plays concluding in a one-yard touchdown run by freshman Tanner Thomas to give the Lions a 7-3 lead with 4:23 left in the first quarter. A 16-yard run by Hill and 20-yard pass from Hill to Wainwright fueled the drive.
Columbia went up 14-3 when Hill connected with Josh Wainwright for a 46-yard touchdown pass with 9:27 left in the second quarter. Hill lofted the ball over Brown’s defense to an open and waiting Wainwright who grabbed it and raced into the end zone. The play was setup by a 23-yard run by Watson.
Brown (4-6, 3-4 Ivy League) cut the deficit to 14-6 on Rosenblatt’s second field goal of the day, a 36-yarder in the second quarter.
The Lions took a commanding 21-6 halftime lead when Wainwright scored his second touchdown of the day on a 16-yard pass from Hill with 1:04 left before halftime. The four-play, 71-yard scoring drive was fueled by a 47-yard pass from Hill to Wainwright.
In the third quarter, Brown cut the deficit to 21-13 when Livingston Harriott scored on an eight-yard touchdown run with 2:36 left.
But Columbia added insurance points in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard field goal by freshman Oren Milstein with 6:02 left in the game that gave the Lions a 24-13 lead. After Brown missed a 34-yard field goal attempt, Watson took a handoff up the middle, found daylight and ran 69 yards untouched for his first career touchdown. The score gave Columbia a 31-13 lead and put the game out of reach with 2:36 left.
Hill completed 13 of 20 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 42 yards on 17 carries. Watson totaled a career-high 158 rushing yards on 20 carries and Wainwright caught a team-high five passes for a career-high 150 yards. Defensively, Columbia was led by senior Gianmarco Rea with 10 tackles, senior Christian Conway, who totaled eight tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss and senior Keith Brady (seven tackles).
POST GAME NOTES
· Columbia was represented at the coin toss by its three 2016 captains: seniors Scooter Hollis (WR), Skyler Mornhinweg (QB) and Christian Conway (LB).
· Today’s weather at kickoff at Robert K. Kraft Stadium was 59 degrees and sunny.
· Columbia’s 18-point victory represented its largest win since it defeated Wagner 26-3 last year on October 10, 2015.
· For the second consecutive game, Columbia totaled 400-plus yards of offense. It finished today’s game with 419 yards of total offense and amassed 562 yards last week vs. Cornell. For the second straight game it had both a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver.
· Columbia’s freshmen scored 85 consecutive points from the Harvard (21) and Cornell games (40) through today’s fourth quarter when Alan Watson scored on a 69-yard run. Prior to today’s game, Columbia’s previous 61 points were scored by freshmen (21 at Harvard and 40 vs. Cornell).
· Senior running back Alan Watson finished with a career-high 158 rushing yards on 20 carries. He scored his first career touchdown on a 69-yard touchdown run with 2:33 left in the game. It was both the longest and last run of his career. Watson finished with his third 100-yard rushing game of the season and a second consecutive 100-yard rushing game.
· Freshman Josh Wainwright finished with career highs of 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His 150-yard receiving day surpassed a 97-yard game at Princeton. It is his first 100-yard receiving game. He had four catches (two for touchdowns) for 129 yards at halftime.
· Wainwright finished the day with a career-best two receiving touchdowns. His fourth touchdown reception of his career was a 46-yarder from Anders Hill in the second quarter. His fifth was a 16-yarder from Hill with 1:36 left in the second quarter. Wainwright concludes his first year at Columbia with a team-high five touchdowns. He has now scored a receiving touchdown in each of the last three games.
· Following a first quarter one-yard touchdown run, freshman Tanner Thomas has now scored in two consecutive games. It was his second career touchdown run.
· Columbia had its first punt blocked this year in the first quarter. Coming into the game, Columbia led the nation in least punts blocked on the year (0).
· Senior Denzel Hill made his first career start at cornerback. He also made his first career interception in the second quarter.
· Senior John Hunton returned to his starting role at tight end after the previous four games.
· Junior Landon Baty intercepted his second pass of the season.
· Columbia won its first game this year after leading at halftime. It entered today’s game with an 0-2 record when leading at halftime.
· The final score of 31-13 represents Columbia’s largest lead of the season. Its halftime lead of 21-6 represented its largest lead of the year.
· Members of the 2016 senior class played their final game at Columbia.
· Columbia closed out the 2016 season with a 3-7 overall and 2-5 Ivy League record.
· Columbia and Brown met for the 81st time in a series which began in 1902. With Columbia’s win, Brown leads the all-time series with a 52-27-2 advantage. Columbia’s victory erased Brown’s four-game win streak in the series. Columbia also snapped a four-game Brown win streak in games played in Providence.