With the Liberty Cup on the line, the Lions hit the ground running this afternoon.
But after forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff, and getting the ball on the 10-yard line, Columbia (1-1) was unable to come away with a touchdown and was forced to settle for a field goal. The opening drive proved to be one of many times in the game that the Lions were unable to fully take advantage of the opportunities they were handed, as Columbia ultimately came up short against Fordham (3-1), 20-13.
Later in the first quarter the Light Blue was handed the ball once again when Fordham center Chris Watkins fumbled the snap. But once again the Lions failed to capitalize, as senior quarterback Sean Brackett missed a wide-open Hamilton Gardner as the offense sputtered once again.
The Lions defense, which was very strong on its first two series, forcing a three-and-out and a fumble, began to show cracks after the offense was unable to keep the defense off the field. Fordham running back Carlton Koonce exploded for a 92-yard rushing touchdown, and the Rams' next drive also culminated in a Koonce touchdown, this time on an 18-yard reception.
But the Lions bounced back, dialing up a big play of their own, as Brackett connected with junior wide receiver Louis DiNovo on a roll-out play action pass for a 62-yard score.
On the ensuing Fordham possession, freshman corner Travis Reim picked off a pass by Fordham quarterback Ryan Higgins, but the Lions fumbled the ball as the first quarter expired.
The Lions' managed to keep the Rams from scoring, however, as the defense picked up a pair of huge sacks and Fordham missed the field goal.
Following a couple of back-and-forth possessions and a Columbia field goal with 34 seconds remaining in the first half, Fordham picked up a field goal of its own and entered the break up 17-13.
Columbia opened the second half with a promising drive but was unable to put up any points to start the third quarter after junior kicker Luke Eddy missed a 45-yard field goal attempt.
Fordham seemed to be putting together a nice drive of its own, but Higgins fumbled the ball as he was pulling it back to pass and senior linebacker Ryan Murphy recovered it to give possession back to the Lions.
But once again, the Light Blue was unable to capitalize, ultimately turning the ball over on downs.
Neither team was able to sore in the third quarter. The Lions had a scare as the third quarter expired when Rams' linebacker Michael Martin forced Brackett to fumble the ball on a third and five, and though Columbia recovered the fumble a short punt gave Fordham the ball at the Columbia 41.
The Rams got a boost from kicker Patrick Murray on the next drive, as the senior netted a 51-yard line-drive kick into the wind to give Fordham the first points of the second half and a 20-13 lead.
Later in the fourth Columbia seemed poised to put some points on the board, but Martin forced another red-zone fumble on a run by Lions' sophomore running back Alec Fisher. Fordham regained possession on its own 13-yard line.
The Rams' offense proved unable to make much of the opportunity, however, as junior linebacker Brian East broke up a pass on a third-and-seven to force Fordham to punt.
Columbia got the ball on a do-or-die drive.
With his back against the wall, Brackett hit freshman wide receiver Isaiah Gross, as the Lions converted a huge fourth-and-long.
But the drive ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Light Blue.
On fourth and 14 Brackett escaped an onslaught of Fordham defenders and hit Garrett in the end zone, seemingly giving the Lions a touchdown and a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime with an extra point. However, Brackett was ruled to be past the line of scrimmage when he threw the pass.
The score was called back, and the Rams ran out the clock.