HANOVER, N.H.—Columbia’s defense came up with two key stops in the game’s final three minutes, including a key sack in the closing seconds to give Columbia a 22-17 victory Saturday at Dartmouth before 5,237 fans at Memorial Field. The contest featured a matchup of the Ivy League’s two teams tied for first place in the standings, the final two unbeaten teams in the conference and two of the nation’s seven remaining undefeated teams.
With the win, Columbia improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1996, began Ivy League play at 3-0 for the first time since 1996 and won at Dartmouth for the first time since 2001. In its first three Ivy League contests, Columbia has now defeated Dartmouth and 2016 co-Ivy League champions in Princeton and Penn. It also marked Columbia’s fourth game decided in the final two minutes.
In addition, Columbia won its seventh consecutive game for the first time since 1935.
Holding a 22-17 lead, Columbia’s defense came up with two key stops in the game’s final 2:30 to secure the victory. With Dartmouth driving down the field and threatening to score, Columbia forced a fourth and goal play in which junior Ryan Gilbert batted away a pass thrown into the end zone. After Columbia punted, Dartmouth drove 52 yards down the field and faced a first-and-goal on the Columbia seven-yard line with 17 seconds to play. As Dartmouth quarterback Jack Heneghan dropped back to pass, junior defensive lineman Mike Hinton went unblocked and leveled Heneghan from his blind side at the Columbia 17-yard line. As the clock ran down, Dartmouth scrambled to get off another play, but the clock hit 0:00.
“I knew this game was going to go a full 60 minutes,” Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli said. “We left a lot of points on the board; the extra points that were blocked, the two-point conversion got called back, the interception in the end zone, the interception late. I knew all along that Dartmouth wasn’t going to quit, they have tremendous resilience, I knew all along that this game was going to come down to the end. It’s lucky that we made enough plays at the end to hold on.”
“It was a tremendous testament to our player’s mindset, determination. We overcame some tough plays to hang in there until the end and squeak away with a victory.”
In a game in which Dartmouth outgained the Lions 478-401 in total yards and finished with 26 first downs to the Lions’ 20, Columbia held the Big Green to 0-9 conversions on third down and led the time of possession battle 34:31 to 25:12.
Columbia senior quarterback Anders Hill completed a career-high tying 27 of 35 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown, sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright caught a career-high 11 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown and sophomore wide receiver Kaleb Pitts, who filled the void for the injured Ronald Smith, caught a career-high seven passes for 86 yards. Columbia’s defense was led by safeties senior Landon Baty and Gilbert, who finished with 12 tackles apiece.
Columbia dominated the first half on both offense and defense to build a 16-0 halftime lead. It was the fourth time this season that Columbia’s defense shut out an opponent at halftime. The Lions took a 3-0 lead when sophomore Oren Milstein converted a 27-yard field goal following a five-play, 42-yard drive. A 40-yard pass from Hill to Kaleb Pitts set up the field goal. Columbia went up 10-0 when Hill engineered a 12-play, 76-yard drive spanning 5:19 which ended in a one-yard touchdown run by first-year Josh Bean. The Lions methodically moved the ball down the field, took advantage of a 15-yard facemask penalty and a 16-yard pass from Hill to Wainwright which put them at six-yard line. An Anders Hill five-yard scramble set up Bean’s touchdown run.
Columbia took a 16-0 lead into halftime after Hill hit Wainwright on a short screen for a two-yard touchdown pass. The score came after a nine-play, 76-yard drive which spanned 4:40. The Lions used a 34-yard pass play from Hill to sophomore Christian Everett and a 21-yard pass from Hill to Wainwright in which he made the play in the middle of the field and raced down to the 10-yard line. On a third down play Dartmouth was flagged for a pass interference call that put the ball at the two-yard line and gave the Lions a first down. On the next play, Hill hit Wainwright for a short screen and dove across the goal line. After Columbia’s score, Dartmouth drove down the field but missed a 21-yard field as time expired.
In the third quarter, Dartmouth cut the deficit to 16-7 when Jered Gerbino scored on a one-yard run following a five-play, 58-yard drive.
Columbia made it 22-7 and answered with Bean’s second touchdown of the day when he ran around the right end for a two-yard score with 4:08 left in the third quarter. It was a culmination of another long Columbia drive which spanned 10 plays, 80 yards and 4:06 and featured a key 28-yard pass from Hill to senior running back Chris Schroer. After a converted two-point conversion was called back, the ensuing extra point try was blocked.
Dartmouth (5-1, 2-1 Ivy League) tacked on a 33-yard David Smith field goal with 14:11 left in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 22-10. The Big Green made it 22-17 when Drew Estrada caught a 38-yard pass from Heneghan and rambled into the end zone for a touchdown with 6:57 to play.
That set up Columbia’s fourth quarter defensive heroics.
Columbia (6-0, 3-0 Ivy League) is back in action next week at Yale (5-1, 2-1 Ivy League). Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET on SNY/Ivy League Network.
POST GAME NOTES
*Columbia was represented at the coin toss by its four 2017 senior captains: Landon Baty, Anders Hill, Lord Hyeamang and Bewley Wales. Columbia won the toss and deferred to the second half. Dartmouth started off the ball.
*Today’s weather at kickoff was 66 degrees and sunny.
*Columbia wore all white uniforms.
*The win gave Columbia its first 6-0 start since the 1996 season when it won six straight games.
*The win gave Columbia a 3-0 start to an Ivy League season since 1996 when it won its first three games.
*Columbia won its seventh consecutive game. The last time Columbia won seven straight games was from Oct. 27, 1934 to Oct. 19, 1935. The school-record for most consecutive victories is eight straight wins set two times from Oct. 28, 1933 to Oct. 20, 1934 (eight straight) and from Sept. 26 to Oct. 31, 1903 (eight straight). Columbia also won seven straight two different times from Nov. 14, 1903 to Oct. 15, 1904 and from Sept. 24, 1932-Nov. 12, 1932.
*Columbia won its sixth game, its most wins in a season since 1996 when it finished 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Ivy League.
*Sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright set a new career-high with 11 receptions for 99 yards. His previous career-high was 10 in two different games. Wainwright has now caught at least one touchdown in eight of his last nine games played. He missed his fourth career 100-yard receiving game and second straight 100-yard game by one yard. Over the last two games played, Wainwright has caught 21 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns.
*Senior quarterback Anders Hill tied a career-high for completions with 27 in 35 attempts for 298 yards and a TD. Hill threw a touchdown pass for the 10th consecutive game. In the first half alone, Hill completed 19 of 22 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown.
*Making his first career start, sophomore Kaleb Pitts finished the day with career-highs for receptions (seven) and receiving yards (86). In the game’s first drive alone, he set a new career-high for receptions. His previous career-high was one reception three different times. In the first quarter alone, Pitts had five catches for 66 yards, including a career-long of 40 yards.
*Oren Milstein converted a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter and has now converted 4-6 field goals on the year. For his career, he is 16-19 on field goals in two years. Milstein’s streak of 35 consecutive PATs came to an end when he missed the PAT on Columbia’s second touchdown in the first half.
*Senior Chris Schroer caught a career-long 28-yard reception in the third quarter. He has caught six passes this year.
*First-year quarterback Josh Bean tied a career-high for rushing touchdowns as he scored two in the game for his sixth and seventh TDs of the season. Bean is now tied for the team lead with Josh Wainwright in scoring with seven touchdowns. He has scored seven rushing touchdowns on 16 carries. The first score came at the 7:53 mark in the second quarter on a one-yard run. The second score was a two-yarder in which he ran around the right end and scampered across the goal line.
*Safeties Ryan Gilbert and Landon Baty led the defensive effort with 12 tackles apiece. Baty tied a career-high with 12 tackles. Gilbert had eight solo tackles. The duo was followed by sophomore linebacker Michael Murphy (six tackles) and sophomore defensive back Benjamin McKeighan and senior defensive lineman Dominic Perkovic with five tackles apiece.
*Columbia’s defense held Dartmouth to 0 for 9 on third down and 2-5 on red zone conversions with only one touchdown.
*Columbia registered two sacks on the day, including Mike Hinton’s game-ended 10-yard sack. Coming into the game, Columbia had registered just four sacks for 23 yards.
*For the fourth time this season, Columbia’s defense held an opponent scoreless in the first half. In the first half alone, the Lions yielded just 136 total yards, including 49 rushing and 87 passing. Dartmouth was held to 0-5 on third downs.
*Columbia defeated Dartmouth in Hanover for the first time in 16 years and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Big Green in games played in Hanover. The last time the Lions were victories in Hanover was on October 20, 2001, a 27-20 win. Columbia also defeated Dartmouth for the second consecutive season. Last year, the Lions registered a 9-7 win over the Big Green. The last time the Lions defeated Dartmouth in back-to-back games was in 2000 and 2001. Columbia also improved to 19-68-1 overall against Dartmouth.
*For the first time in five years, Columbia scored in double figures against Dartmouth. The 22 points mark the most points Columbia has scored against Dartmouth in 10 years and since it scored 28 in a 37-28 loss on Oct. 20, 2007 at Memorial Field.
*Should Columbia win next Saturday at Yale, it would begin a season at 7-0 for the first time since it began the 1932 season with a 7-0 record. Columbia’s program-best start to a season was 8-0 in 1903 en route to a 9-1 finish.