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Columbia Whips Wagner In Prime Time For First Win




There was much joy and excitement on and around Wein Stadium last night as the Columbia Lions dominated a winless Wagner team 26-3 and in the process scored their first win of the season and first since November, 2012.

It was a complete performance with all scoring taking place in the first half while the second half was a display of what Columbia has learned about finishing from their first year Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach, Al Bagnoli.

“It certainly wasn’t a Picasso by any stretch but I’m happy for the kids,” said Bagnoli.

Max Keefe was certainly pleased at the reaction. “It gives them a positive boost as much as it does for us,” Keefe added. “Everyone’s been down on the program and this brings more positive things.”

The tone was set immediately as Wagner beat themselves and the Lions took full advantage. After driving down and scoring on a six yard run by Cameron Molina, who rushed for 55 yards on the evening.

Linebacker Max Keefe, who would be heard from all night, recovered a fumbled snap by Wagner Quarterback Alex Thomson at the two and ran it in to make it 10-0. Max underscored the impact he had. “It’s just coaching and doing what I’m told,” Keefe responded, “When an opportunity presents itself, you have to take advantage of it. I was in position.”

The second act would be the longest and at 17-0, it would be Skyler Mornhinweg, Columbia starting QB, who ran for a team leading 80 yards last night, who took a handoff, faked a draw and stepping to his left saw a huge hole and took off for 32 of them to pay dirt and a 24-0 advantage. “The coaches drew it up perfectly,” Skyler recalled postgame, “Your just reading the outside rusher, he rushed hard and I pulled in and it was wide open.”

It just compounded from there for Wagner as kick returner DeAngelo James, standing in his end zone, dropped the ball at the one and tentatively grasped it and retreated into the zone for a safety when he was touched. That would be all Columbia would need as they held a 26-0 lead.

The Lion defense, led by Keith Brady, would ensure it. Wagner made a run towards the end of the second with a new lefty quarterback Chris Andrews, whose scrambles, aided by a dubious call on Jared Katz brought the Seahawks to the one. But the Lions made a goal line stand stuffing the run and watching Wagner self-destruct with penalties, of which they had ten, forcing them to settle for their lone score, a 23 yard field goal by Bryan Maley. “Coach has put fun back into the game and we’re able to play with more enthusiasm,” a Columbia defender shared, “We’re all motivated and confident.”

Columbia saw their fortunes improve as they fumbled twice in the third but recovered both times. The fourth saw the rewards for a defense that held Wagner to 70 yards passing. First Cameron Roane tipped a ball up in the hair and took it in at his twelve killing a Wagner threat to score. The final nail came with just about seven minutes remaining with JD Hurt coming up with an interception of his own.

But the win was appreciated more because of the work this team has put in to change the measuring stick there. They lost their first three games with the Georgetown and Princeton losses particularly frustrating as they were both winnable games. “I want our kids to enjoy today,” Bagnoli said, “It’s been a long time since they’ve been in this scenario.”

However the silver lining is that Columbia is 0-1 in the Ivy League, have a win under their belts with a reunion game next Saturday at home against Bagnoli’s old team, Penn, where he built his coaching reputation. “I don’t want the storyline to overshadow the game,’ Al warned, “It’s really about the kids. We have another winnable game ahead of us and we are going to prepare like crazy.”

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