NEW YORK - The last
time Columbia defeated Yale in football, the current seniors on the Columbia
football team were 10 years old.
But Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Pete Mangurian
has said since his initial press conference last December, this Columbia
football team would leave the past behind. While rebuilding is a process, the
team showed fight, toughness and grit, shedding the past and defeating Yale for
the first time since 2001, 26-22, on Saturday at Robert K. Kraft Field.
Columbia quarterback Sean Brackett rushed for one touchdown and threw
for another in the fourth quarter to lead the Lions, totaling 328 yards through
the air as the Columbia offense recorded 429 total yards.
Trailing 22-19 with just over seven minutes left to play,
Columbia started a drive on the Yale 44-yard line after a 49-yard return by
first-year Travis Reim. Brackett
found Connor Nelligan on first down for a gain of 15 yards, taking Columbia to
the Yale 29. On third and 11,
Brackett found Hamilton Garner for a gain of six, bringing out Luke Eddy for a
41-yard field goal attempt.
Eddy's kick was just wide left, and Yale started their drive on their
Yale ran the ball with tailback Tyler Varga taking direct
snaps from center. Varga, who had
a monster game with 220 yards rushing, took the Lions down to the Columbia 45,
but was stripped by Mike Waller, and recovered by Ryan Murphy to give the Lions
the ball with 2:05 remaining.
Columbia made a quick charge down the field with Brackett
connecting with Connors for a gain of nine. A Columbia hold negated a good part of that gain, but Brackett
found Nelligan on the ensuing play for 25 yards to the Yale 30. Brackett went right back to Nelligan on
the next play for a 17-yard gain to the Yale 13.
One play later, Brackett connected with Nelligan again for a
10-yard gain down to the Yale three-yard line. Columbia had first and goal from inside the three-yard line once
before in the game, without converting, but this time, Brackett found Marcorus
Garrett on the left side of the end zone for a touchdown. With the extra point, Columbia took a
26-22 lead with 45 seconds left.
Yale got one complete pass on the final drive for a first
down to their own 42, but Greg Lee's sack on first and 10 ended the game.
Columbia finished with 369 yards passing to Yale's 52, while
Yale had 262 yards rushing to Columbia's 60. Brackett was 33-47-1 for 328 with two touchdowns. Garrett
had 71 yards rushing and 14 yards receiving. Nelligan had a career-high 138 yards receiving, while
Connors had eight catches for 96 yards.
Not to forget about defense, Murphy had six tackles, one for
a loss, one fumble recovery and the tackle that resulted in the safety. Mike DiTommaso had seven tackles in the
Columbia opened the scoring with a 28-yard field goal from
Luke Eddy to take a 3-0 lead with 8:29 left in the first quarter. The Lions
defense forced the Bulldogs to a three-and-out on Yale's first possession and
carried the three-point lead into the second quarter.
Yale got on the board early in the second quarter with a 28-yard
touchdown scamper by Varga.
Yale's next possession began with 8:34 remaining in the
half, but the Columbia defense would quickly get the ball back. Ryan Murphy
tackled Mordecai Cargill for a four-yard loss on first down and then took down
Varga in the end zone on second down for a Columbia safety.
Neither team was able to add to the score the remainder of
the half, and Yale led 7-5 at the break.
Yale doubled its tally with Varga's second touchdown of the
contest on a 12-play, 74-yard drive the give the Bulldogs a 14-5 advantage with
8:33 left in the third quarter.
Columbia responded swiftly though, as Brackett led a drive,
75 yards on 14 plays, ending with a four-yard touchdown pass from Brackett to
Jake Wanamaker. It was Wanamaker's
first touchdown of his Columbia career.
Columbia took a 19-14 lead early in the fourth quarter when
they started a drive on their own 49 on a 30-yard return from Alec Fisher.
Brackett hit Nelligan, Ryan Flannery and Wanamaker for gains, but the big play
of the series was on third and four from the Yale 29 when Brackett hit Connors
for a 27-yard gain. The Lions had
two attempts on first and goal from the two without a touchdown, but on third
and goal, Brackett faked to Garrett and snuck in for the touchdown.
Columbia (2-5, 1-3 Ivy League) returns to action next
Saturday when they travel to Harvard for a 1 p.m. game.