NEW YORK—After defeating co-2016 Ivy League Champions Princeton and Penn to open Ivy League play, Columbia (5-0, 2-0 Ivy League) travels to Hanover, N.H. to play Dartmouth (5-0, 2-0 Ivy League) in a matchup of two of the nation’s seven undefeated teams. In addition, the game features the Ivy League’s top two teams in the standings as both enter the contest with identical 2-0 records. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. for a Saturday, Oct. 14 contest at Dartmouth’s Memorial Field.
WHERE TO LISTEN/WATCH
Eleven Sports Network will televise the game with Bill Spaulding (play-by-play) and Matt Goldstein (color analyst) calling action. Chris Guijarro will handle production. The contest will also be simulcast and live streamed on the Ivy League Network. Jay Alter (play-by-play) and former Columbia player Shawn FitzGerald (color analyst) will call action on the Columbia Online Radio Network available at www.gocolumbialions.com.
COLUMBIA LOOKING TO START SEASON AT 6-0
A win over Dartmouth on Saturday would give Columbia six wins to start a season for the first time since 1996 when the Lions won their first six games en route to an 8-2 year. Columbia has already won more games than it accumulated last year. The Lions went 3-7 in 2016.
With its five wins to start the 2017 season, Columbia begins a year at 5-0 for the first time since 1996. Columbia starts at season at 5-0 for the just the second time since 1945. Columbia has started a season at 6-0 or better only five times in school history: 1904 (6-0), 1903 (8-0), 1932 (7-0), 1945 (6-0), 1996 (6-0). It won a school-best eight consecutive contests to open the 1903 season. The eight-game win streak ties for the longest overall win streak in school history. Columbia also won eight straight games from Oct. 28, 1933-Oct. 20, 1934.
With five wins, Columbia has already clinched its first non-losing season since 2006 when it went 5-5 overall.
Should Columbia defeat Dartmouth on Saturday, it would surpass its win total of five victories over the previous four years (2013-16). The Lions went 5-35 during that span. In just two-and-half seasons at Columbia, Bagnoli has already won more games (10) than Columbia won in the previous five seasons (2010-14) before he became head coach. The Lions went 8-42 during that five-year span.
In 1996, Columbia won six straight games to start its season en route to an 8-2 overall record and 5-2 Ivy League record. Two of those wins were in overtime: Sept. 21 vs. Harvard (OT), 20-13; Sept. 28 at Fordham, 17-10; Oct. 5 at Holy Cross, 42-16; Oct. 12 at Penn (OT), 20-19; Oct. 19 Lafayette (Homecoming), 3-0 and Oct. 26 at Yale, 13-10. The streak ended with a 14-11 home loss to Princeton on Nov. 2. Ironically Columbia defeated Al Bagnoli’s Penn-coached team 20-19 in overtime in 1996.
The last time the Lions put together a .500 or better overall season was in 2006 when they finished 5-5 overall and 2-5 in the Ivy League. Since 1956, Columbia has only completed four seasons with a .500 or better record in Ivy League play: 1961 Ivy League Champions (6-1), 1962: 4-3, 1971: 5-2, 1996: 5-2.
Columbia has won just one Ivy League championship in program history: 1961.
COLUMBIA ON SIX-GAME WIN STREAK
Columbia’s current six-game win streak marks its longest win streak since 1996. With its 34-31 overtime win over Penn, Columbia claimed its sixth consecutive win while closing out the 2016 season with a 31-13 victory over Brown. The last time Columbia won six straight games was from Sept. 21-Nov. 2, 1996.
With victories over both Penn (34-31 in OT) and Princeton (28-24), Columbia swept both Penn and Princeton for the first time since the 1971 season. Since the Ivy League was formed in 1956, Columbia has defeated both Penn and Princeton in the same season only two times: 1971 and 2017.
FOR THIRD WEEK LIONS EARN VOTES IN STATS, INC. NATIONAL POLL
For a third consecutive week, Columbia gained votes in the STATS, Inc. national poll. The Lions secured 48 points in the poll and are listed in the “others receiving votes” at No. 36. Columbia is the second highest Ivy League school in the rankings behind Dartmouth at 247 points. The Lions are one of three league schools to receive votes. Princeton is the third school.
On Monday, Oct. 9, Columbia earned 23 points following its win at Marist. Columbia first earned 22 points in the STATS, Inc. national FCS poll on Monday, Oct. 2 following a 28-24 win over Princeton on Sept. 30.
Columbia did not receive a vote in the FCS Coaches poll in either week. See page 5 for polls.
The last time Columbia received a national ranking was during the final 1947 poll where it came in at No. 20 in the Associated Press poll following a 7-2 overall record. Columbia has never been ranked since it joined the FCS.
COLUMBIA, LIONS PLAYERS AMONG NATIONAL STATISTICAL LEADERS IN A VARIETY OF CATEGORIES
Through its first five games, Columbia ranks among the nation’s top-25 teams in 17 different statistical categories according to the NCAA. Columbia leads the nation in winning percentage (5-0, 1.000) and ranks No. 2 in time of possession (34:48), No. 2 in fewest fumbles lost (1), No. 2 in first downs defense (76), No. 5 in third down conversion percentage (51%), No. 8 in fourth down conversion percentage defense (20%), No. 10 in third down percentage defense (29.5%), No. 14 in turnover margin (1.00), No. 16 in turnovers lost (7), No. 16 in fourth down conversion percentage (66.7%), No. 19 in fewest penalties (32), No. 20 in red zone defense (71.4%), No. 21 in passing offense (273.0), No. 23 in kickoff returns (23.5), No. 23 in team passing efficiency defense (114.6), No. 24 in blocked kicks (2), No. 25 in team passing efficiency (147.95).
Individually, several Lions also rank among the top-25 national statistical leaders including quarterback Anders Hill, who ranks among the nation’s top-25 in seven categories: No. 14 in total offense (295.0), No. 15 in passing yards per game (273.0), No. 15 in passing efficiency (154.7), No. 18 in completions per game (20.6), No. 19 in completion percentage (63.6%), No. 23 in passing touchdowns (13) and No. 23 in points responsible for (18.0).
Additionally, wide receiver Josh Wainwright ranks among the nation’s top-25 in several categories including No. 10 in receiving yards per game (107.6), No. 11 in receptions per game (7.0), No. 13 in receiving touchdowns (6), No. 15 in punt returns (11.1), No. 23 in receiving yards (538) and No. 24 in all-purpose yards (126.0). In addition, linebacker Michael Murphy ranks No. 6 in fumble recoveries (2), safety Landon Baty ranks No. 14 in forced fumbles (0.40) and punter Parker Thome ranks No. 9 in punting (43.8).
Dartmouth and Columbia meet for the 88th time in series history. Dartmouth, which holds a 68-18-1 advantage in the series, has won seven of the last eight matchups. In games played in Hanover, Dartmouth has won seven straight contests. Columbia won last year’s matchup, a 9-7 Homecoming victory on October 22, 2016 in which Oren Milstein kicked three field goals for the Lions.
COLUMBIA HAS FLAIR FOR DRAMATIC WINS
In the early-going this year, Columbia has shown its resilience and toughness with two comeback wins against Penn and Princeton, two walk-off wins over Penn (34-31 in OT on walk-off TD) and Wagner (17-14 on walk-off field goal) and three victories in the last two minutes of regulation: Penn, Princeton and Wagner.
Against Wagner, the Seahawks tied the game at 14-14 and had a chance to go ahead on a field goal, but Columbia blocked the attempt. Columbia gained possession of the ball back and quarterback Anders Hill drove the Lions 54 yards down the field where placekicker Oren Milstein converted a 29-yard field goal as time expired for the win.
Trailing 24-21 with 1:12 to play at Princeton, wide receiver Ronald Smith II caught a pass from Hill and raced 63 yards down the field for the game-winning touchdown. With Princeton driving on its final possession, sophomore Ben McKeighan intercepted his second pass of the day to seal the victory.
Against Penn, the Lions trailed 21-7 in the fourth quarter and used two interceptions to storm back, tie the game at 21-21, then take a lead 28-21 on a Hill pass to tight end Rory Schlageter. Penn sent the game into overtime with a touchdown with 1:21 to play. In overtime and after Columbia’s defense held Penn to a field goal, Hill found Josh Wainwright for a 24-yard touchdown on a third and nine play to give the Lions a 34-31 win.
Already, Hill has led the Lions on three game-winning drives in the early-going this year.
ABOUT THE LIONS
Columbia begins its second half of the season at 5-0 overall and 2-0 in Ivy League play for the first time since 1996. It travels to Dartmouth after registering a thrilling 34-31 come-from-behind overtime victory over Penn before 13,081 fans. Columbia has also registered a 17-14 win over Wagner, a 35-14 win vs. Georgetown and a 28-24 come-from-behind win at Princeton to start 1-0 in Ivy League play and a 41-17 win at Marist.
Columbia returned 13 starters (seven on offense and six on defense) and 57 lettermen to a youthful and talented team that finished 3-7 overall and tied for a sixth place finish in the Ivy League with a 2-5 mark.
The 2016 Lions concluded their season with a victory at Brown, while five of their seven losses were decided by 10 or fewer points. Three All-Ivy League picks return in sophomore placekicker Oren Milstein, senior defensive back Cameron Roane and senior defensive lineman Lord Hyeamang. Additionally, Columbia returned players who accounted for 88 percent (162 of 185) of its points scored, 82 percent (1,651 of 2,014) of its passing yards, 51 percent (1,037 of 2,014) of its receiving yards, 60 percent (3 of 5) of its starters on the offensive line and 49 percent (333 of 680) of its tackles in 2016.
ABOUT THE BIG GREEN
Dartmouth enters Saturday’s game with a 5-0 overall and 2-0 Ivy League record. The Big Green has registered Ivy League wins over Penn (16-13) and Yale (28-27). Coach Buddy Teevens’ Big Green also has defeated No. 25 Holy Cross (27-26 in OT), Stetson (38-7) and Sacred Heart last week, 29-26.
Dartmouth is led by quarterback Jack Heneghan, who has completed 64.9 percent of his passes (85-131) for 978 yards and 11 touchdowns. Heneghan, who has only thrown two interceptions on the year, also has rushed for 90 yards. Ryder Stone leads the team in rushing (65 carries for 332 yards), while Emory Thompson (17 catches for 156 yards, 3 TD), Hunter Hagdorn (16 catches for 145 yards, TD) and Drew Hunnicutt (10 catches for 203 yards, 3 TD) lead the squad in receiving. Placekicker David Smith has hit four of six field goal attempts and all 16 of his point after attempts to lead the Big Green in scoring with 28 points. Dartmouth’s defense is led by Jack Traynor, who has made 47 tackles, along with Eric Meile (42 tackles 4 PD), Kyran Crudden-McKinney (36 tackles, 4 PD) and Bun Sraton (26 tackles).
THIRD DOWN DOMINANCE
Columbia continues to make plays on third down both on offense and on defense. Offensively, Columbia has converted 45 of its 88 third down conversions (51.1) on the year to rank second in the Ivy League and rank No. 5 nationally in that statistic. On defense, Columbia has limited opponents to a 29.5 percent (18 of 61) conversion rate on third downs, which ranks No. 10 nationally and leads the league by a large margin.
Columbia has also been successful on fourth downs on both offense and defense.
LIONS DOMINATE TIME OF POSSESSION
Columbia has won the time of possession battle in each of its five games. On the year, Columbia ranks No. 2 nationally and leads the Ivy League in time of possession after maintaining possession for 34:48.
MICHAEL MURPHY NAMED STATS FCS DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Columbia sophomore linebacker Michael Murphy was named the STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week, the organization announced on Monday afternoon. The major national media outlet for FCS Football, STATS FCS conducts a weekly FCS poll.
The honor marks the third major award for Murphy this week as he was also named the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Week and the CollegeSportsMadness Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week.
A Tampa, Fla. native, Murphy sparked the defense in Columbia’s 34-31 overtime win over Penn as he made a team and career-high 12 tackles (seven solo), recovered two fumbles and totaled a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss for 24 yards. He also added 1.0 sack. He became the first Columbia player to earn the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week award since Josh Martin earned the honor on Nov. 12, 2012. Ironically, Murphy’s father graduated and played football at Penn from 1978-80.
On the year, Murphy ranks third on the team in tackles with 30 (12 solo), leads the Lions in both tackles for loss (6.5-30 yards) and fumble recoveries (two) and has totaled 1.0 sack, one pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. He ranks No. 6 nationally and leads the Ivy League with his two fumble recoveries, ranks No. 14 in the Ivy League in tackles and No. 5 in the league in tackles for loss.
COLUMBIA CLAIMS THREE OF FOUR IVY LEAGUE WEEKLY AWARDS
Columbia claimed three of the Ivy League’s four weekly football awards as sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright was named the Offensive Player of the Week, sophomore linebacker Michael Murphy earned the Defensive Player of the Week award and first-year linebacker Justin Woodley was named the league’s Rookie of the Week, the conference announced on Monday afternoon.
An Austin, Texas, native, Wainwright caught a walk-off, game-winning 24-yard pass from senior quarterback Anders Hill to give Columbia a 34-31 overtime victory over Penn on Saturday. Wainwright caught two touchdown passes of 59 and 24 yards and either set or tied career-highs for receiving yards (193) and receptions (10). He also totaled 207 all-purpose yards and became the first-ever offensive recipient of the John Toner Homecoming Player of the Game award. His 193-yard receiving day ranked as the seventh-most yards in school history and the contest marked his third career 100-yard receiving day and third career multi-touchdown game. Wainwright is Columbia’s second Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week recipient this year as Ronald Smith also earned the honor on October 2. On the year, Wainwright ranks among the nation’s top-25 statistical performers in five categories including receiving yards per game (No. 10, 107.6), receptions per game (No. 11, 7.0), receiving touchdowns (No. 13, 6), punt returns (No. 15, 11.1) and receiving yards (No. 23, 538). He leads the Ivy League in receiving yards per game at 107.6. He has 35 catches for 538 yards (15.4 average) and six touchdowns in five games this year.
An outside linebacker and Tampa, Fla. native, Murphy becomes the first Columbia player to earn the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week award since Josh Martin on Nov. 12, 2012. Murphy sparked Columbia’s defense by leading the Lions with a career-high 12 tackles (seven solo), recovered two fumbles and totaled a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss for 24 yards. He also added 1.0 sack. In addition to his Ivy League award, Murphy was also named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com. On the year, Murphy ranks third on the team in tackles with 30, leads the Lions in both tackles for loss (6.5-30 yards) and fumble recoveries (two) and has totaled a sack, one pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. He ranks No. 6 nationally and leads the Ivy League with his two fumble recoveries, ranks No. 14 in the Ivy League in tackles and No. 5 in the league in tackles for loss.
A first-year linebacker from Chula Vista, Calif., Woodley earns the Ivy League Rookie of the Week Award after intercepting a career-high two passes and finishing with two tackles (one solo) and a quarterback hurry on Saturday. All of Woodley’s key plays came on third down and ended Penn offensive drives. The two interceptions helped Columbia battle back from a 21-7 deficit.
ANDERS HILL LEADS COLUMBIA OFFENSE AT QUARTERBACK
For the second straight year senior Anders Hill is back as Columbia’s starting quarterback. He returns to anchor an offense that improved with every game in 2016 and looks even more polished in 2017. It also is the second consecutive year that Columbia has employed the same offensive system.
Hill has started 13 consecutive games and in those 13 starts, has guided Columbia to six straight wins and an 8-5 record as the starter. His six-game win streak is the longest for a Columbia full-time starting quarterback since Gene Rossides won six straight as the starter from Oct. 25, 1947-Oct. 2, 1948. Already in 2017, Hill has completed 63.6 percent of his passes (103 of 162) for 1,365 yards and 13 touchdowns and ranks third on the Lions in rushing yards with 110 on 61 carries and two TDs.
Upon entering into the 2017 season, most impressive and most memorable is what Hill accomplished over Columbia’s final three games of the 2016 season against Harvard, Cornell and Brown. The three-game span saw him complete 60 percent (49 of 82) of his passes for 616 yards, six touchdowns and only four interceptions. In combining his previous five starts, Hill has completed 58.7 percent (81 of 138) of his passes for 973 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. Over that span, he has averaged 194.6 yards passing and 16.2 completions per game.
Hill has improved in virtually every aspect including his conditioning and strength.
DYNAMIC DUO: WIDE RECEIVER TANDEM PROVES TO BE THREAT
Columbia has the most dangerous wide receiver tandem in the Ivy League in sophomores Josh Wainwright and Ronald Smith II. The duo entered the 2017 campaign as a bit of an unknown league-wide as most of their key performances occurred during the back end of the 2016 season. This year, both players have displayed a knack for getting open and a flair for the big play.
Already this season, Wainwright and Smith have accounted for 60.2 percent of the Lions’ receptions (62 of 103), 70.0 percent of their receiving yards (956 of 1,365) and nearly scored half of the Lions’ touchdowns (10 of 21).
In 2016, Wainwright led the Lions in receptions (42), receiving yards (515) and touchdown receptions (5). He also caught a touchdown pass in each of Columbia’s last three games in 2016 and also finished second on the squad in all-purpose yardage with 800. He finished fifth in the Ivy League in both receptions per game and receiving yards per game, seventh in the league in all-purpose yards per game and also caught an 88-yard touchdown reception, Columbia’s longest scoring play of 2016.
This year, Wainwright has 35 catches for 538 yards and six touchdowns. Wainwright also leads the Lions in all-purpose yards with 630 for the year (538 receiving, 89 on punt returns). For his 14-game, 13-start career, Wainwright has caught 77 passes for 1,053 yards and 11 touchdowns.
On Oct. 2, Smith was named Columbia’s first Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week since Oct. 4, 2010 when he set a school-record and Princeton Stadium record with a career-high 236 receiving yards on 10 receptions. He also caught the game-winning touchdown pass on a 63-yard catch and run. His 236-yard receiving game ranks 11th among single-game totals in Ivy League history and marks the fourth highest total in FCS football this year. He also tied a career-high with two touchdown receptions and caught two TD passes for the second consecutive game. He surpassed Columbia’s single-game receiving yards record of 214 yards set by Bill Wazevich vs. Princeton on October 7, 1967. His game-winning 63-yard touchdown reception marked the longest catch of his career. The performance marked Smith’s third 100-yard receiving game of his career. His previous career-high for receiving yards was 195 yards and his career-high for receptions still stands at 11 vs. Yale on Oct. 28, 2016.
For his 10-game and seven-start career, Smith has caught 48 passes for 810 yards and eight touchdowns.
BIG PLAY LIONS
Columbia now has a group of playmakers who can make big plays. It has three receivers- Josh Wainwright, Ronald Smith and Emerson Kabus- who each have a catch for over 60 yards or more and each has registered a 100-yard receiving game. In defensive back Will Allen, Columbia also has a kickoff returner capable of scoring a touchdown on any given play. The return of running back Lynnard Rose from injury gives the Lions another playmaking threat.
In five games, Columbia has had 24 total plays gaining 20 yards or more, 13 plays gaining 30 or more yards and a whopping nine plays of 40 or more yards. Of the nine 40-yard plays, five have gone for touchdowns including a 59-yard TD pass to Josh Wainwright, 69-yard TD pass to Wainwright, 46-yard TD pass to Ronald Smith, 63-yard TD pass to Ronald Smith and 55-yard TD pass to Wainwright.
OFFENSIVE QUICK HITS
*Columbia is averaging 400.0 yards of total offense per game, up from 326.5 yards per game in 2016. It is averaging 273.0 yards passing per game.
*Columbia is averaging 31.0 points per game, up from 18.5 points per game in 2016.
*Columbia is averaging 21.2 first downs per game, up from 17.7 first downs per game in 2016.
*Quarterback Anders Hill is on a hot streak. Combining his last three games against arist, Princeton and Penn, he has thrown for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns, completed 71 of 106 passes (67 percent) and had only three passes intercepted.
*Hill has been responsible for 15 of Columbia’s 21 touchdowns on the year. Against Marist, he was responsible for all five Lions touchdowns. He ranks No. 23 nationally and No. 2 in the Ivy League in points responsible for (18.0 per game).
*One under-the-radar statistical category that stands out is Hill’s efficiency and success on third downs. Coming into Saturday’s game, on third downs, when Hill passes, he has incredibly completed 28 of 36 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns and has converted first downs 19 times. He has been sacked 6.0 times and thrown two interceptions. Against Penn on third down, Hill completed eight of 10 passes for 70 yards, five first downs and two touchdowns.
*Each week receivers Josh Wainwright and Ronald Smith take turns leading the Ivy League in receiving yards. This week, Wainwright leads the league with 538 yards on 35 receptions and six touchdowns. Smith is now ranked No. 5 with 27 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns.
*Three receivers have totaled 100-yard receiving games: Ronald Smith (school-record 236 at Princeton), Josh Wainwright has two 100-yard games (193 vs. Penn, 104 vs. Wagner) and Emerson Kabus (114 at Marist). All three have at least one catch of over 60 yards.
*Junior wide receiver Kyle Castner was the surprise of preseason. The former quarterback made a position switch to wide receiver in the offseason. In five starters, Castner has 10 catches for 114 yards.
*Backup first-year quarterback Josh Bean has scored five rushing touchdowns in four games played. He is used primarily in short yardage rushing situations. Bean ranks second to Wainwright in scoring.
*Sophomore running back Lynnard Rose saw action for the first time this year at Marist. Rose missed the first three games with an injury. He rushed for 32 yards on seven carries and caught a pass.
COLUMBIA BRINGS THE DEFENSE
Over the last three seasons, Columbia’s defense has proved to be a team strength. Defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro has guided a unit that ranked among the nation’s best in a variety of statistical categories. So far this year, Columbia’s defense has allowed just 20.0 points per game (No. 27 nationally) and it ranks No. 20 nationally in red zone defense. In addition, opponents have converted just 29.5 percent of their third downs (No. 10 nationally), 20 percent of their fourth downs (No. 8 nationally) and 76 percent of their first downs (No. 2 nationally).
In 2016, Columbia ranked among national leaders in third down conversion defense (No. 5, 29.3), first down defense (No. 7, 177.0) and team tackles for loss (No. 14, 7.6 per game). In addition, Columbia ranked a respectable No. 39 in total defense (354.9 yards allowed per game) and No. 43 in scoring defense (24.7 points per game allowed).
Ferraro returned six starters from the 2016 team, including all four defensive linemen: Dominic Perkovic, Ivy League Second Team pick Lord Hyeamang, Connor Heeb and Mike Hinton, along with defensive backs in Ivy League Second Team selection Cameron Roane and Landon Baty. Additionally, the Lions returned seven of their top-8 defensive linemen, five linebackers with in-game experience and senior cornerback Denzel Hill, who emerged at the tailend of 2016.Columbia’s defensive success is a carryover from the 2015 season—Ferraro’s first season at Columbia—which saw a tremendous leap in defensive efficiency, as Columbia improved from the 115th best team in total defense in 2014, to the No. 8 ranked team at 291.1 yards per game a season ago.
The Lions also yielded just 19.8 points per game which ranked as the FCS’s No. 17 best tally, while holding opponents to 13 points or less four times. It also ranked No. 2 in the Ivy League in total defense and led the conference in pass defense (186.9 yards per game). In addition, Columbia ranked No. 8 nationally in rushing defense (103.4 yards per game), No. 5 in third down conversion defense (.265) and No. 3 in first down conversion defense (148). The defense also accumulated 23 sacks for 140 yards, which ranked No. 4 in the Ivy League.
DEFENSIVE QUICK HITS
*Columbia’s defense has held opponents to just 20.0 points per game and 314.8 yards of total offense per game. Running the ball has been hard for opponents against the Lions as opponents have averaged just 121.8 yards rushing per game.
*Columbia has also held opponents to just 15.2 first downs per game.
*Columbia has shut out three of its four opponents in the first half. The Lions have only allowed 28 first half points this year, 14 to Penn and 14 to Princeton. Through the first five games, Columbia has outscored its opponents 94-28 in the first half.
*Columbia leads the league in turnover margin with 12 takeaways and seven giveaways. Ironically, after not registering a turnover in each of its first two games, Columbia has totaled 12 turnovers (seven interceptions and five fumble recoveries) in its last three contests vs. Princeton, at Marist and vs. Penn.
*Three Lions are ranked among the top-15 league leaders in tackles: junior safety Ryan Gilbert (No. 4 at 40), senior safety Landon Baty (No. 5 at 36) and sophomore linebacker Michael Murphy (No. 14 at 30). Murphy leads the Lions and ranks No. 5 in tackles for loss with 6.0.
*Columbia has intercepted seven passes, led by first-year linebacker Justin Woodley and sophomore defensive back Benjamin McKeighan with two apiece. Baty, White and sophomore safety Hunter Lunsford are the others with interceptions.
*Defensive line is a team strength as the Lions returned a deep and experienced unit. All four starters and seven of its top eight players returned to the squad including Second Team All-Ivy League selection Lord Hyeamang (12 tackles, 3.0 TFL), senior Dominic Perkovic (12 tackles), senior Connor Heeb (nine tackles) and junior Mike Hinton (13 tackles). Other key players are senior Alex Holme (12 tackles) and sophomores Arman Samouk (six tackles) and Daniel DeLorenzi (10 tackles, three QB hurries).
*Columbia had to replace all three of its starting linebackers from the 2016 season. The transition has been seamless as this year’s group of linebackers has displayed athleticism and toughness. Sophomore Jalen Williams (18 tackles, three QB hurries), junior Sean White (26 tackles, INT, 2.5 TFL, 3 pass breakups) and sophomore Michael Murphy (30 tackles, 6.0 TFL, two fumble recoveries 1.0 sack) have all emerged as starters and key contributors. In addition, junior Calvin Falkenhayn (nine tackles, 4.0 TFL) and senior Parker Tobia (nine tackles) have both played key roles.
*Safety Ryan Gilbert leads the Lions in tackles with 40 (19 solo). He ranks fourth in the Ivy League in tackles. He has started all five games and registered a career-high 14 tackles at Princeton.
*Senior co-captain Landon Baty has been the Lions’ sparkplug on defense, ranking second on the squad with 36 tackles (14 solo) and registering an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. His career-high is 12 tackles vs. Wagner.
*Seniors Cameron Roane (2016 All-Ivy League Second Team) and Denzel Hill, along with sophomore Benjamin McKeighan (20 tackles) have seen the most action at cornerback. Roane has a team-high four pass breakups.
*Columbia has only registered four sacks on the season, the lowest total in the Ivy League.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
*Columbia has enjoyed superb special teams play in 2017. It has blocked two field goals (both vs. Wagner) and recovered an on-side kick (at Princeton).
*Field goal specialist Oren Milstein was named the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week (Oct. 9) after converting two field goals and all five of his extra points vs. Marist. He has nailed 15 of 18 career field goal attempts, won three career games on field goals and converted all 36 of his career point after attempts. He has earned the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week award three times and has won five total conference awards.
*Senior punter Parker Thome leads the Ivy League in punting at 43.8 yards per punt. He also ranks No. 9 nationally in the same statistic. On the year, Thome has placed 10 punts inside the 20-yard line and six of his punts have gone farther than 50 yards.
*First-year kickoff returner Will Allen ranks No. 3 in the Ivy League in kickoff returns with a 23.5 yards per KOR average (13 for 306 yards).
*Junior kickoff specialist Chris Alleyne has registered touchbacks in nine of 26 kickoffs.
*Sophomore punt returner Josh Wainwright ranks No. 15 nationally and No. 3 in the Ivy League at 11.1 yards per punt return.