Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sophomore Sensations

It's like a flashback to the 70's!

Columbia 24 Towson 10

Why Columbia Won

The defense played brilliantly, and the Lions offense woke up in time to take control of the game at several key moments. The most telling stat was the 224-87 advantage Columbia enjoyed in rushing yards. That took a team effort on both sides of the ball.

But perhaps most importantly, when the game's momentum seemed to shift strongly in Towson's favor, the Lions went on a brilliant 11 play, 80 yard TD drive to turn a shaky 14-10 lead into a dominant 21-10 cushion.

Why Towson Lost

The Tigers had no consistency, neither with play calling nor with execution. No one Towson back even carried the ball more than seven times. The defense couldn't handle the Lions multi-faceted running attack, especially when Sean Brackett and Nick Gerst started getting into a groove.

Key Turning Points

-Trailing 3-0 in the 2nd quarter and facing a 2nd and 10 on his own 33, Brackett found WR Mark Muston for a 26 yard pass play that seemed to ignite the entire slumbering offense. The Lions marched the remaining 41 yards and scored on a 19 yard TD pass from Brackett to Zack Kourouma. That gave Columbia the lead they would never give up.

-After Towson took a Brackett interception and turned it into a TD just two plays later, the score was Columbia 14 Towson 10 late in the 3rd with the Tigers seemingly on a roll. But Brackett made some huge runs on an 80 yard drive, including a 25 yard scamper on a 3rd and 13 on the CU 40 to keep the march alive. Later, Gerst made several nice moves to get into the end zone on a 13 yard run and the Lions were back in control.

Columbia Positives

-The offense improved thanks to a big jump in quality from the running game. Leon Ivery ran better than he had in week one, but getting Brackett's full running talents into the mix and the addition of Gerst made the biggest difference.

-Sophomore DE Josh Martin was a force on what seemed like every play. It also looked like Towson held him on every play. The refs only called it once, but Martin still finished with three sacks and four QB hurries. Remember, Martin is the young man who had committed to Wyoming before reconsidering and comng to Columbia. He sure seemed like BCS quality talent today.

-It wasn't just the sophs, freshman kicker Luke Eddy absolutely drilled all his PAT's and his one FG attempt from 37 yards was also very impressive. In all my years of watching Ivy football, I've never seen a kicker get so much air under the ball.

-Calvin Otis snagged two interceptions deep in Columbia's own zone to snuff out Tiger scoring chances. It sure is good to see him back after missing so many games last year.

-The Lions responded well to the tough loss of WR Mike Stephens by spreading out the receiving goodies to six different receivers. TE Andrew Kennedy had the most grabs with four, but Nico Gutierrez proved he can be the big time deep threat with two catches for 52 yards.

-Brackett had a number of highlight reel plays, especially a 44 yard toss to Gutierrez where he avoided two Towson pass rushers and got the ball off at the last moment off his back foot. The Fran Tarkenton comparisons will continue.

-In addition to Eddy's kicks, the entire special teams effort was much improved. Greg Guttas punted and kicked off very well, and Gutierrez safely fielded a bevy of Tiger punts.

Columbia Negatives

-Not many, but the blown coverages and tackles on the lone Towson TD were tough to watch. Sadly, we all know the coaches will have to make the team watch that play in film sessions this week!


Despite all the encouraging improvements on offense, the defense kept the Lions in this game throughout and the defense was sparked by the dominant play of Josh Martin. Not since Marcellus Wiley played here have I seen a Columbia pass rusher just terrorize an opposing team play after play. Even recently graduated sack master Lou Miller never had such a game, but Martin has a LONG way to go before he can truly challenge Miller's legacy.

It was just one game after all... but what a game.

In other News...

-Brown beat up Harvard to win 29-14. The Bears seem like the team to beat for now.

-Columbia's next opponent, Princeton, won a double thriller against Lafayette. The best personal story of the year, Jordan Culbreath, scored the winning TD.

-Dartmouth had to play lowly Sacred Heart without star RB Nick Schwieger who was out with an illness. Still the Big Green should have mauled Heart by more than the 21-19 final score.

-Yale outlasted a better than expected Cornell, 21-7.

-Penn once again fought valiantly, but fell to Villanova.


At Sun Sep 26, 09:13:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our conditioning was excellent and it showed. It was 96 degrees out there.

At Sun Sep 26, 09:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A superb effort. Only mistake the whole game--the long touchdown pass by Towson-but otherwise excellent on both sides of the ball. Their steady drives were solid and showed confidence, Brackett was poised and brilliant. There was a lot of confidence that allowed them to move at will. I hope this had more to do with Columbia's strength than Towson's weakness, but if so, then they could really be a force.

At Sun Sep 26, 10:10:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was tough on the coaches last week but today they showed that they made the right adjustments and changes and let bracket be himself on O.

Towson scored more points off Indiana than Columbia! Great D!

This was a better opponent than Fordham and we wooped them

Great job

At Sun Sep 26, 10:46:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you said, Jake, plenty of positives. Josh Martin was outstanding. Towson tried unsuccessfully to stop him with everything in the book including a bunch of double teams in the second half. Kickers Greg Guttas and Luke Eddy were also outstanding. Our huge offensive line eventually wore down the Towson defense. Sean Brackett made some amazing plays including the TD pass to Zack Kouroumna. Nick Gerst and Leon Ivery took the running game to a new level. Finally, Nico Gutierrez not only made a sensational long recption, but looked very comfortable handling the punt return duties. He came very close to breaking off a big return in the second half. Gross, Stottler, Murphy et al were outstanding on defense, etc., etc.

At Sun Sep 26, 12:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple or three holds, during significant gains that seemed to have little impact on the runs, were also negatives.

All-in-all, much progress since last week with a bright future in sight.

At Sun Sep 26, 02:34:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with everything except that Towson is a better team than Fordham. Fordham faster and tougher. Towson has some talented players but Fordham has more unity and drive, and plenty of talent as well.

At Sun Sep 26, 06:04:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Let's not forget to mention the stellar play of Alex Gross who has 28 Tackles in 2 games. This guy is all over the field. Alex is truly the heart & soul of the Lion's defense.

At Sun Sep 26, 06:32:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we need to get Kennedy more involved with deep balls when he has one on one coverage by a LB.

At Sun Sep 26, 06:35:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A major positive was clearly the kicking game, which was perfect. When that doen't work, especially on PAT's, the Lions look like Keystone Cops, and it demoralizes them, often wiping out momentum.

At Sun Sep 26, 09:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he stays healthy..this QB (Brackett) could be one of the top offensive players in the league for the next 3 years...what a talented kid! Hopefully, they spread the load around a little and keep him healthy...No player can carry the ball almost every single play (Passing and running)...Great job by the Lions though.(Good defense wins games over time)....

At Sun Sep 26, 09:27:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key to taking the load off of Brackett is to work more balls to Kennedy. I had the privilege of meeting Brackett's pastor during half time; I thought it was his dad because he had the parents' lanyard with #10 around his neck. It turns out that this gentleman, whose name I can't remember, actually had a major role in introducing Brackett to another parishioner, Norries Wilson! Anyway, the pastor couldn't have been more complimentary of the character of both Brackett and Wilson. Those two, along with many others, will be bringing us a lifetime of memories. GoLions, and beat Princeton, which will be out for revenge.

At Sun Sep 26, 11:08:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me like the whole game changed when Gerst starting touching the ball. That kid is electric..
Defense was stellar again. The only score from Towson came after a turnover which will get you every time

At Mon Sep 27, 01:16:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone notice that Fordham was defeated 30-24 at home by Division II Assumption College last night? Assumption is not even ranked in the top 10 of Division II in its region, let alone nationally ranked. One of the earlier comments was to the effect that Fordham is a better team than Towson. If that's true we shouldn't put much stock in beating Towson at home a week after they got walloped by Villanova, who scored 43 unanswered points against them before Towson managed its one touchdown, presumably against Villanova's reserves. I think Princeton will be the best team we've faced so far and they will be energized by their OT win. I'll feel better if we handle Princeton as well as we did Towson, but i don't expect that. I look for a much tougher game next week. Leonidas
PS Georgetown appears to be a solid team after beating Holy Cross at home yesterday. They've played four competitive games and are 3-1.

At Mon Sep 27, 01:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comments here about the relative qualities of Fordham and Towson. I would not get too caught up in the various opponents and how the Rams and Tigers played against them. The truth is - we played Fordham pretty tough in our first game, and got some rust off of ourselves. We played much better against Towson - who put up 17 points against Indiana, so how bad are they? Someone else posted here - or somewhere - that there is a lot of improvement in the first two games - I like our chances against Princeton - this is a team we dominated last year. the only variable is for us - how healthy and how much of an impact will Jordan Culbreath be?

I feel bad that our Lions had a pretty good turnout for the Fordham game - but lost - which led to the usual naysayers, and I'll admit to being one of them, to count us out. However, our bustout game against Towson - pretty small crowd. I imagine we'll have a better crowd for the Jersey Tigers game... so Let's GO LIONS!

I'm also impressed to see that our RB - Gerst - is from Bergen Catholic - good program. Glad we got the young man over that other Ivy program in the Keystone state.

At Mon Sep 27, 02:02:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

See you all on Saturday at Kraft field at the ...,etc.
No blogging from those who done come to the games!!
Jock /doc

At Mon Sep 27, 02:03:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed that Princeton will be our toughest game so far. They are energized and have plenty of talent, especially with Culbreath back and rounding into shape. We'll have to be at our very best, and even then the outcome is in doubt.

Attendance of 2600 at Towson game is a shame, but there is no answer other than winning (and now we have more obstacles than ever with the #1 train line down -- Dartmouth homecoming game, when the train will operate, should be a highlight of the year).

At Mon Sep 27, 02:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget the opponent comparatives. The team that beat Towson played much better than the team that lost to Fordham. Unlike last week, they controlled the game --- and would have been even more in control without those 1st half holding penalties. Gerst made a huge difference: he sticks his head upfield and doesn't try to lope around the corner. His 4th quarter TD -- when he turned it back in and jumped over the tackler -- was a thing of beauty. Brackett has great acceleration -- reminiscent of Cavanaugh. He also has a special ability to draw the defense in, sense the line of scrimmage, and hit the open receiver. Great catch by Guiterrez.

Eddy kicked them high and kicked them long.

Each week is an adventure.


At Mon Sep 27, 08:28:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On my SideLion Pass the video crew apparently blew Gerst's touchdown completely, didn't get the camera back on the field until he was already in the endzone. I hear it was a really nice run so I'm wondering if anyone else had that frustrating experience, and if anyone knows if there's a way I can see it.

At Mon Sep 27, 08:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True enough, Leonlion, that "each week is an adventure." The Lions truly embody the "the agony and the ecstasy," always have and probably always will.

At Mon Sep 27, 06:26:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The poster who downplayed Fordham because they went into the tank with Assumption (as they also did with Bryant) perhaps did not realize that the Rhode Island team the Rams beat defeated national power New Hampshire the following week! Difference here is that our Lions vastly improved in one week while Fordham apparently took Assumpton way too lightly. You got to love Josh Martin and Nick Gerst besides the others. Do not agree Princeton will be our toughest opponent among the three openers. Also, check out the depth of the defense - we rotated 6 DTs (Groth, Stotler, Popeck, Kipp, Raimondi and Lee) and 4 DEs (Smith, Martin, Murphy, Patterson) and Huggins got in at safety, not corner - and that with Sedabyo and Frazier out. Much more imaginative play calling today, and Gerst hurdling a would-be-tackler to score from 13 yards out would make any CU highlight film, as would Brackett's 18 yd TD pass on the run to Kouroma just before he crossed the line. Go Lions!

At Mon Sep 27, 11:11:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Valuable contributions by sophs. Bodes well.


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