Columbia Remains Undefeated After Win Over Princeton
Lions are 3-0 for the first time since 1996.
The Columbia Lions was seeking to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 1996. The team that stood in their way on Saturday was the home team Princeton Tigers, who were also 2-0 and the defending Ivy League champions.
Behind a career day from Anders Hill and Ronald Smith II, the Lions upset Princeton 28-24 to remain undefeated. Smith caught a 63-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner for Columbia. The Lions won their Ivy League opener for the first time since 2010.
Both teams struggled defensively as both Columbia and Princeton accumulated over 400 yards of total offense in the contest. Leading the way for Lions was Hill, who earlier this week was named an FCS semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy for the country’s top scholar-athlete. The senior quarterback threw for a career-high 400 yards and two touchdowns for the Lions.
While the Columbia offense was thriving, the Lions’ defense had their issues stopping the Princeton offense. The Lions defense was able to force four turnovers and make a big goal-line stand in the fourth quarter. With the time of possession dominated by their offense, the Lions defense was fresher than Princeton late in the game.
Columbia (3-0, 1-0 Ivy League) was able to hold the Tigers on two possessions as Columbia hung on to a 21-17 lead. The defense finally bent after Stephen Carlson caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Chad Kanoff with 2:48 remaining in regulation.
After the Princeton (2-1, 0-1 Ivy League) took a 24-21 lead, Columbia took over on their 21-yard line and proceeded to convert two big third downs. The second conversion was the game-winning touchdown by Smith. The wide receiver finished with a school record 236 yards receiving and two touchdown catches. Tanner Thomas added a career-high 59 yards and a touchdown for the Lions, who now has their longest winning streak (four games dating back to last season) since 1996.
Josh Bean scored his third touchdown of the season as the freshman quarterback continues to be a short yardage weapon for Columbia. Free safety Ryan Gilbert finished with 14 total tackles to lead the Lions. Benjamin McKeighan had two interceptions for Columbia, including the game-sealing turnover on Princeton’s last-gasp drive after Columbia took the lead. McKeighan became the first Lions player to have two interceptions in a game since 2014.
What’s Next For Columbia
The Lions will look to move to 4-0 when they visit Poughkeepsie, NY to take on the Marist Red Foxes (3-2, 2-1 Pioneer Football League) on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Tenney Stadium. Game time is 12 p.m.