Stumble in the Bronx
Fordham 21 Columbia 14
Why Fordham Won
The Ram defense kept the Lion offense off kilter, pressuring QB Sean Brackett and shutting down the Columbia run.
On offense, freshman QB Peter Maetzold was often rattled but he never made the big mistakes the Columbia offense did. That allowed the Rams to capitalize on the breaks Columbia handed them and stave off the Lions at the end.
Why Columbia Lost
A disastrous 101 yard interception return for a TD by Fordham turned the whole game around, but Brackett's off-the-mark passing was steady from the outset. The Columbia running game failed to make much of a dent.
Key Turning Points
There was just turning point, really. And it was the most obvious turning point in years.
Leading 7-0 and facing a 4th and goal at the 2 midway through the 2nd quarter, Columbia decided to go for it instead of kicking the field goal.
Brackett threw an ill-advised pass that was picked off a yard deep into the end by Nick Womack and returned all the way back for a Fordham TD.
A questionable coaching decision and a questionable pass took all the air out of the Lions day.
The defense played excellently overall, holding the Rams to just 77 net yards rushing, harrassing Maetzold much of the afternoon, and giving the offense every opportunity to win.
The defensive line play and the play of outside linebackers Ryan Murphy and Josh Martin was stellar. Owen Fraser was one of the brightest surprises, returning to 2008 form with four big tackles including a sack.
Instead of the senior LB Nick Mistretta calling the defensive plays with authority, it was sophomore LB Zach Olinger who took that role and finished the game as the leading tackler with two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Mistretta played very well too.
On offense, the brightest spots were wide receivers Mike Stephens and Kurt Williams. They were open all afternoon. Each had more than 100 yards receiving and a toucdown.
The running game was almost non-existent and pass protection broke down often resulting in just 73 net yards rushing and five sacks given up.
Brackett's passes were often off the mark as he finished with less than a 50% completion rate, (18 for 38) with two interceptions. He did have 239 yards passing and two TD's, but it was not enough.
Columbia fans griping about the coaching have another reason to complain after the questionable call and the apparent lack of real readiness on offense. But let's be fair, if Brackett doesn't throw that INT in the end zone the coaches look like geniuses.
While the defense had lots of stars today, the offense relied heavily on Mike Stephens and he was fantastic in his first game back after missing 90% of the 2010 season to injury.
Stephens not only got open regularly, but he squeezed extra yards out of catches, and his TD grab in traffic and just in-bounds was a highlight reel moment.