Sputtering out of the Gate
Fordham 16 Columbia 9
Why Fordham Won
The Rams eventually wore the Lions down with a relentless running attack and a timely pass or two to score their first and deciding TD late in the fourth quarter. On defense, Fordham shut down the Lion running attack in all the key moments.
Why Columbia Lost
The Lions offense waited far to long to vary its attack, waiting until the games final drive to get big yards on a long drive. A botched snap ended what looked like a great chance for Columbia to tie it in the final seconds.
Just like last year, a special teams miscue shifted the momentum away from the Lions. After a brilliant short TD pass from Sean Brackett to Mike Stephens gave Columbia a 9-3 lead in the third quarter, the PAT was blocked. Columbia did not score again.
Brackett looked like a 5th year senior rather than a sophomore making only his fifth career start. He did not throw an INT, and he directed traffic successfully in some hairy situations throughout the game. While he did not run nearly as much as expected, he still did a good job to avoid the big hits when he did take off.
Alex Gross led the defense with 14 tackles and 10 solo stops in his first game bak since his week 4 injury in 2009.
Neil Schuster had a breakout game, especially against the run, with 11 tackles, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup.
The new-look defensive line did very well overall. Fordham did gain over 200 yards on the ground, but that was not due to any real weaknesses up front. New contributors Matt Stotler, Josh Martin, Seyi Adebayo and even freshman Joe Raimondi made a nice impression in sustained playing time.
Nico Gutierrez had his best game since freshman year with 88 total receiving yards inlcuding a beauty of a catch on Columbia's final drive.
Too often, running Leon Ivery into the line resulted in nothing much for the Lion running attack. Ivery did yeoman work, and avoided fumbling the ball at least, but he was stuffed all too often.
The PAT block was all too much of a reminder of last season's kicking woes.
The turnover in the final minutes inside the Ram 10 was far too reminiscent of Columbia over the last several seasons. At that key moment in a tight game, we still did not see a really confident, careful squad with a killer instinct.
When it comes to the five keys to the game that I laid out yesterday, Columbia failed to execute on three of them.
They did not stop the Fordham run quite as effectively as they needed to, (although it was close).
They did not run the ball well enough.
They missed a PAT.
On the positive side, Brackett kept himself healthy and looked poised most of the game. The Lions also did not get burned by any trick plays.
Alex Gross gets the nod over Brackett as Gross truly directed an overall brilliant performance by the defense.
In other News...
The big shocker was on Staten Island where favored Cornell was stomped by Wagner by a staggering 41-7 score. We knew this would be a rebuilding year for the Big Red, but that's ugly.
Brown and Yale pulled off thrilling wins. The Bears beat Stony Brook in double OT, 33-30, and the Elis won on a TD in the last second.