NEW YORK—Columbia scored a touchdown on a blocked punt and blocked a season-high three kicks, sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright caught a career-high 13 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown and senior quarterback Anders Hill threw for 179 yards and a score as Columbia finished off its 2017 season with a 24-6 win over Brown Saturday at Robert K. Kraft Field. The game also marked the final contest of the 2017 season and the final game for Columbia’s 31-member senior class.
With the win, Columbia concludes its year with an 8-2 overall record and finishes in second place in the Ivy League at 5-2. The Lions enjoyed their best season and highest finish in the Ivy League since they also went 8-2 and 5-2 in 1996. With a 24-3 win over Harvard, Yale clinched the Ivy League title outright.
It wasn’t Columbia’s best game statistically as Brown outgained the Lions 324-275 in total offense, registered 18 first downs to the Lions’ 16 and actually won the turnover (1:0) and time of possession battles (30:50-29:10), but the Lions dominated special teams play, shut down the Bears offense and built a secure 17-0 lead before Brown scored at the end of the third quarter.
“It was a good win for us,” Columbia’s Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli said. “We’re always preaching special teams and today was the best indicator of special teams play with the touchdown on the punt block and blocks on the field goal and extra point. It was also a good day with the punt game and field position game and everything else. Offensively, we made enough plays; defensively we did a nice job and contained them. I never really felt threatened, but I don’t think we played as efficiently as we’re capable of playing. These are tough games to play. All week long we’ve been talking about the emotion of the last game and you’ve got separate the emotion and the finality of it. It’s hard to do and not get too sentimental about it. You can’t let yourself get too high and can’t get too low. At the end of the day, 8-2 is a great season for our team. There’s a lot to celebrate and be happy with today.”
Columbia struck first and took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when it engineered an 87-yard, 13-play drive spanning 5:30. First-year Josh Bean scored his eighth rushing touchdown on a one-yard run up the middle for the score. Hill drove the Lions 87 yards using a 21-yard swing pass to Chris Schorer, a nine-yard pass to Wainwright, a 13-yard pass to Castner, a nine-yard scramble and a 13-yard pass to Wainwright to set up a first-and-goal from the Brown one-yard line.
Columbia went up 14-0 when first-year Tyler Holmes blocked a Brown punt and first-year Justin Woodley recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. The play occurred with 10:56 left in the second quarter.
Sophomore Oren Milstein converted a 30-yard field goal to give Columbia a 17-0 lead with 4:22 left in the third quarter. The field goal culminated a 10-play, 65-yard scoring driving spanning 4:08. The drive was sparked by 18-yard and 27-yard completions from Hill to Wainwright.
On the next series, Brown got on the scoreboard when Thomas Linta completed a three-yard shuffle pass to LJ Harriott for a touchdown. Columbia senior defensive lineman Alexander Holme blocked the extra point attempt to keep the score at 17-6. Brown used a 10-play, 75-yard drive including two long passes by Linta to setup the score
Columbia went up 24-6 with 11:19 to play when Hill found Wainwright for a six-yard touchdown pass. The scoring play followed a 10-play, 65-yard scoring drive which saw the Lions take advantage of a 20-yard pass from Hill to Wainwright, a 22-yard scramble by Hill and two Chris Schroer runs of seven and eight yards. On the touchdown, Wainwright set a school record for season receiving yards (1,001) and became just the second player in school history to total over 1,000 yards receiving joining Don Lewis (1,000 in 1982).
With his 13-catch, 127-yard performance, Wainwright set Columbia’s school-record for season receiving yards as he finished the year with 1,001 yards on 78 catches. He set the previous record by one yard, which was 1,000 yards held by Don Lewis in 1982. Hill completed 19 of 26 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. He concluded the year completing a school-record 63.4 percent (206 of 325) of his passes for 2,407 yards and 16 touchdowns. Senior running back Chris Schroer continued his late season surge as he rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries. Junior linebacker Jacob Young led the Lions with a career-high seven tackles and junior linebacker Sean White also finished with seven tackles. Junior safety Ryan Gilbert added six tackles.
Columbia also won its second consecutive contest and its second straight game over Brown.
Bagnoli was asked what’s next for Columbia’s program.
“The trick and hard part is once you’ve established a good program is to keep it,” Bagnoli said. “That to me is going to be our true barometer. We want to be a program that just isn’t a one-and-done, flash-in-the-pan. We want to do this every year. We want to be a competitive program capable of beating anyone on our schedule and I think that will be our goal. We want to make sure we stay humble, make sure we work hard and make sure we do our job recruiting and develop our players and basically stabilize the program for the long term.”
POST GAME NOTES
*Columbia was represented at the coin toss by its four 2017 senior captains: Landon Baty, Anders Hill, Lord Hyeamang and Bewley Wales. Columbia won the toss and deferred to the second half. Brown started off with the ball. Columbia Hall of Fame member and former football Paul Kaliades served as the honorary caption at the coin toss.
*Today’s weather at kickoff was 50 degrees and cloudy. It rained later in the game.
*Columbia wore blue uniform tops with white pants and white helmets.
*Prior to the game, a moment of silence was observed for Columbia’s Director of Undergraduate Admissions Peter Johnson, who passed away last week. The Johnson family was presented with a game ball by Columbia Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Peter Pilling.
*With its 5-2 record, Columbia finished in a two-way tie for second place with Dartmouth in the Ivy League standings. Yale won the league outright with a 6-1 record.
*The victory gave Columbia its fifth Ivy League win of the year, the most by the Lions in 21 years (since 1996). It marks the fifth winning season in the Ivy League since the conference was formed in 1956.
*Columbia also won its eighth game and concluded the 2017 season with an 8-2 overall record. The eight wins mark the most victories at Columbia since 1996 when the Lions finished 8-2.
*Columbia won its second straight game and second straight over Brown. The win marked Columbia’s first over Brown in a home game since it defeated the Bears 28-14 on Nov. 21, 2009.
*For the sixth time in 10 games this year, Columbia held an opponent scoreless in the first half. Teams that were held scoreless in the first half against Columbia this year include Wagner, Georgetown, Marist, Dartmouth, Cornell and now Brown. On the year, Columbia outscored 137-55.
*Columbia led 14-0 at halftime. When leading at halftime, Columbia improves to 6-0 on the season.
*With a career-high 13 receptions and 127 yards receiving, sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright set a new school record for season receiving yards as he finished with 1,001 yards on the year. He set the previous school record of 1,000 yards held by Don Lewis in 1982. He also finished in second on Columbia’s season receptions list with 78 catches. The record is 84 held by Lewis in 1982. Wainwright registered his second consecutive, fifth career and fourth 100-yard receiving game of the year.
*On the year, senior quarterback Anders Hill set a Columbia season record for best completion percentage (63.4 percent) as he completed 206 of his 325 passes. He also finished his senior season ranked among Columbia season recordholders for pass completions (No. 6 at 206), passing yardage (No. 5 at 2,407), touchdown passes (No. 6 with 16) and total offense (No. 5 with 2,550). In Columbia career records, Hill concludes his career ranked No. 5 in pass completions (399), No. 5 in passing yardage (4,612), No. 6 in touchdown passes (27) and No. 5 in total offense (5,777).
*First-year Josh Bean scored his eighth touchdown of the season when he rushed for a one-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He tied for the team lead in touchdowns with Wainwright (eight) and was responsible for nine TDs (eight rushing, one passing).
*Senior running back Chris Schroer continued his late season surge as he rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries. Combining his last three games, Schroer has gained 398 yards on 74 carries (5.3 yards per carry average). The contest also marked Schroer’s third consecutive start. He concluded the year with 638 yards on 137 carries.
*Columbia registered its sixth, seventh and eighth blocked kicks of the season and totaled a season-high three blocked kicks. For the third time this year, Columbia blocked at least two kicks in a game. Columbia also blocked two kicks vs. Wagner (Sept. 16) and at Yale (Oct. 28). Columbia entered the game ranked No. 7 nationally in blocked kicks.
*Senior defensive lineman Connor Heeb blocked a Brown 40-yard field goal attempt, his third block of the season. The block was Columbia’s sixth team blocked kick of the year.
*Then, senior defensive back Tyler Holmes blocked a Brown punt and the ball rolled into the end zone where first-year Justin Woodley recovered for a touchdown. That gave Columbia a 14-0 lead. It marked Columbia’s first blocked kick for touchdown since Hunter Lunsford scored on a 14-yard punt block vs. Harvard on Nov. 5, 206.
*Senior defensive lineman Alexander Holme blocked his first kick of the season on a Brown extra point attempt in the third quarter. He also registered his first sack of the season.
*Junior linebacker Jacob Young finished with a career-high seven tackles. It was his second straight start at linebacker.
*Senior Charlie Flores started at left guard after being listed as questionable all week long.
*With his two converted point after attempts, sophomore kicker Oren Milstein concluded the year ranked No. 2 in season PATs with 26. The school-record is 27 set by Luke Eddy in 2010. Milstein converted 26 of 28 point after attempts and finished 8-13 on field goals.
*Senior Ivy League leading punter Parker Thome finished his year with a 42.9 yards per punt average (50 punts for 2,146 yards). He also registered five touchbacks, 12 fair catches, 23 punts inside the 20-yard line and 10 punts of 50 yards or more.
*Junior safety Ryan Gilbert finished with six tackles. He led the Lions with 95 tackles (53 solo) on the year.
*Columbia’s 31-member senior class was honored in a pre-game ceremony. The senior class included Landon Baty, Collin Breckenridge, Marcus Briscoe, Clay Caruso, Zach Dansby, Turner DeMuth, Pat Denny, David Donovan, Connor Heeb, Anders Hill, Denzel Hill, Alexander Holme, Tyler Holmes, Lord Hyeamang, Michael McGrath, Charles Melka, Markham Paukune, Dominic Perkovic, Bailey Popeck, Cameron Roane, Benjamin Robbins, Chris Schroer, Reid Stables, Liam Talty, Parker Thome, Parker Tobia, Ian Tyler, Bewley Wales, Greg Washington, Dylan Weldon, Noah Zgrablich. Senior co-captains include Landon Baty, Anders Hill, Lord Hyeamang and Bewley Wales.