Roll Jordan, Roll!
In his 22nd collegiate game, Jordan Davis finally broke through (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyars)
Columbia 31 Marist 7
Why Columbia Won
Columbia's rushing attack, basically absent since 2004, had a starring role as junior Jordan Davis ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns. This from a running back who in his previous 21 collegiate games had scored just one rushing touchdown and never ran for more than about 90 yards. The offense as a whole wasn't as spectacular as the running game, but it played turnover-free football.
The defense bent often but never broke, giving up huge yardage on the ground for the second week but also stuffing the passing game and stiffening in the most crucial situations.
Why Marist Lost
The Red Foxes did a great job establishing a running attack, but big mistakes prevented them from cashing in on their advantage. Meanwhile, Marist's passing attack wasn't even good enough to act as a decoy.
On defense the Red Foxes couldn't stop Jordan Davis, and as soon as Columbia realized that, the game was over.
Key Turning Points
1) Marist took the opening kickoff and ran 12 straight running plays for 51 yards until they had a 4th and 1 at the Lion 13. But a fumble on a bad handoff was jumped on by Andy Shalbrack and Columbia dodged an early bullet.
2) Trailing 7-0, Marist had a 2nd and 10 at their own 37 when Clark Koury intercepted a Steve McGrath pass at midfield and returned it all the way to the Red Fox 28. That led to a Columbia field goal a few minutes later and a 10-0 Lion lead.
3) After a third quarter Marist TD made it 17-7 CU, the Red Foxes had a chance to really make it close when they started a long drive before facing a 3rd and 9 from the Columbia 29. On third down, backup QB Matt Semrano's pass fell incomplete and when Marist went for it on 4th down, freshman Brian England broke up another pass and the Lions had the ball back.
4) With the score still 17-7 early in the 4th quarter, Marist had one more chance to get back into the game with a possession that started at their own 30. On 3rd and 8 from the 32, Justin Masorti blitzed Semerano and forced a bad pass that Koury grabbed for his second interception at the Red Fox 43. Two Jordan Davis runs later, it was 24-7 Columbia.
1) The Lions ran the ball well. In addition to Jordan Davis' big day, the team ran for 216 yards overall.
2) The defense looked ferocious on passing plays, racking up five sacks and about a dozen QB pressures and knockdowns. If the Lions can figure out how to stop the run even a little better, this strength will become even more of a factor.
3) A number of new faces got on the field and made a big impact for the first time. Fullback Pete Stoll got a few quality runs and even caught a screen pass which he turned into a 35-yard gain thanks to his blistering speed, (especially for a fullback). Freshman defensive lineman Brian England was in on a number of plays and may be one of Columbia's answers on running plays going forward.
4) Columbia avoided silly mistakes that could have let Marist back into the game. The Lions committed no turnovers and with three takeaways, their turnover ration is now +1 on the season.
5) The Lions played hard to the final whistle. Never letting up and even recording a tackle for a loss and a sack on the final two plays of the game.
6) Columbia's play calling was aggressive throughout, as QB Craig Hormann attempted several long passes deep down the middle of the field. Hormann's completion percentage suffered as a result, but he did not have an interception.
1) The Lions are still not stopping the run. Missed tackles weren't to blame either as the undersized Marist O-line still got a tremendous push off the snap time after time.
2) Junior linebacker Corey Cameron injured himself early in the game and came back to the sidelines on crutches. Justin Masorti replaced him and had a whale of a game, but Columbia needs to stay healthy. Andy Shalbrack was injured in the waning moments of the game when he probably should have been on the sidelines. I'm not sure about the severity of either one of those injuries.
Jordan Davis is an obvious choice. But I'm going with co-MVP's this time as he will have to share the honors with junior strong safety Clark Koury, who along with his two key interceptions he also had nine tackles, two of them for a loss. During several points of the game when it looked like no one was up for stopping the run, Koury stepped up.
Jake on the Mic
I felt a lot more comfortable this time and was particularly proud of the halftime interview with Don Jackson. That interview will be a tough act to follow for the next eight weeks.