Sports | Football

Football still winless as Columbia drops Homecoming game to Penn

  • Kiera Wood / Senior Staff Photographer
    on the run | First-year quarterback Kelly Hilinski finished 8-22 with 85 yards in the Lions' Homecoming loss.

Updated 10/21 at 1:00 a.m.

Columbia fans will have to wait at least another year for a Homecoming victory.

Columbia (0-5, 0-2 Ivy) has not won a Homecoming game since 2000, and Saturday afternoon’s contest against Penn (3-2, 2-0 Ivy) was no different. The Lions could not hold on to an early lead, as the defending Ivy League champions quickly erased the first-quarter deficit and ultimately secured the win.

“We knew going in that they were a good team, and hats off to Penn—they are a good team. But we game-planned well enough to be able to beat them,” first-year quarterback Kelly Hilinski said. “But we need to make plays when it comes down to it.”

The Lions did draw first blood against the defending-champion Quakers, scoring on their third possession of the game. 

Hilinski connected with first-year wide receiver Cameron Dunn on a huge 46-yard pass off a flea flicker, giving Columbia a first-and-goal from the six.

[Multimedia: Highlights, analysis of Columbia's 21-7 loss to Penn]

The Light Blue wasted little time in taking advantage of the opportunity. Senior running back and co-captain Marcorus Garrett punched it in on the next play, putting the home team up 7-0 with 4:02 left in the first quarter.

Despite giving up the early touchdown, the Penn defense for the most part did a good job containing Columbia’s first-team All-Ivy running back, holding Garrett to just 46 yards on 19 carries.

“We have the greatest respect for him. He’s one of the premier running backs in this league,” Penn head coach Al Bagnoli said of Garrett. “That was the key to the game. We had to figure out ways to contain him and put more of the pressure on the younger kids around him.”

Following Garrett’s touchdown, Columbia’s defense neutralized a Penn threat early in the second quarter after a long Quaker drive stalled out at the Columbia 14. An incomplete pass on third and 11 forced Penn to kick a field goal, but Quakers kicker Connor Loftus’ attempt was wide left.

Kiera Wood/ Senior Staff Photographer
no running room | Though he scored Columbia's only touchdown, Penn made a point of stopping running back Marcorus Garrett on Saturday.

The Lions got the ball back but went three and out, and neither team got anything going until Penn got the ball at the Columbia 46 with 7:56 to play in the half. 

After picking up a couple of first downs it looked like the Lions’ defense had once again stymied the Quakers deep in Columbia territory. But Penn quarterback Ryan Becker hit tight end Mitchell King for a touchdown in the face of a jailbreak blitz on third and 17 to tie the game at seven.

“We were moving the ball so well, we were able to just keep going. I told them all to just keep fighting, and third down we had to execute just to get down to the next one, and we just happened to get the touchdown there,” Becker said.

Penn tacked on another touchdown late in the half, when quarterback Billy Ragone found wide receiver Ty Taylor from 12 yards out to put the visitors on top 14-7 going into the break.

On its first possession of the second half, Penn had an opportunity to add to its lead, but missed a 37-yard field goal attempt to come away empty-handed from a promising drive.

Neither team was able to get much of anything going offensively for much of the third, until Penn got the ball on its own five with 1:16 to play in the quarter. 

The Quakers got a big boost on a 25-yard run by Kyle Wilcox, and a couple of 15-yard penalties for a personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct gave Penn yet another scoring opportunity.

[Related: Defense the bright spot in Saturday's Homecoming loss]

But senior free safety Jeremy Mingo picked off a Ragone pass at the Columbia 13, nullifying the Penn threat and electrifying the Homecoming crowd. 

“It was a big moment on defense—we had to make a play to get the offense back on the field,” Mingo said. “[Senior linebacker] Brian East made a good play, tipped the ball up, and I just saw the opportunity to make a play, and made it.”

The excitement proved to be short-lived, however, as Hilinski threw an interception on the very first play of the ensuing Light Blue possession. 

Given a second chance deep in Columbia territory, the Quakers capitalized. Running back Spencer Kulcsar punched it in from four yards out to give Penn a 21-7 lead with 11:19 to go in the game.

Neither team would score again, as Penn closed out the win to improve to 2-0 in Ivy play. Columbia fell to 0-5 on the season with what Columbia head coach Pete Mangurian described as an especially painful loss.

“This one hurts. They all hurt, but this one really hurts. We prepared very well this week, we really did,”  Mangurian said. “But we’ve still got to pass through that valley, and we haven’t done it yet.”

eli.schultz@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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Puzzled Alum posted on

In large state universities where football is important the head football coach is paid more than the university president. Lee Bollinger is paid about $2.5 million per year, while Peter Mangurian is paid $250 thousand. I wonder what the Harvard head football coach is paid.

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Puzzled Alum posted on

An even better question--what's the Columbia football budget versus that of each of the other Ivies?

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AW posted on

You can't be suggesting Mangurian deserves higher pay. That would be incredibly wrong. Ask Bill Campbell why Mangurian was even hired at all. No it is not too early to know for sure this was a horrible hire.

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Anonymous posted on

Given our record, $250,000 is too much for Mangurian. We're winless this season and did horribly last season. It's time for a major overhaul.

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Puzzled Alum posted on

Much too early to know if Mangurian is a problem ... more likely the problem is the Columbia football budget versus that of the other Ivies

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Anonymous posted on

analysis paralysis.....typical at Columbia

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Anonymous posted on

Hey puzzled alum, there's always Penn State for you. Return your Columbia degree and redo it at Penn State. They like boys there - one thing they share with the Columbia football team.

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Puzzled Alum posted on

Hey, anonymous. I'll bet my Columbia GPA was higher than yours. All I want is -- if Columbia's going to play football -- for it to be fully competitive in the Ivy League. As far as your gay slur -- that's definitely not the Columbia values you allege to be standing up for.

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Anonymous posted on

The "boys" comment I think was referring to the Sandusky scandal.

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James posted on

Get rid of football.

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Anonymous posted on

Oooo this is SUCH a shock!

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sageman posted on

3 suggestions:

Fire Mangurian
Recuse Campbell from making football decisons
HIRE Greg Toal ASAP!

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Puzzled Alum posted on

Seems to me the Athletic Director hired Pete Mangurian. The AD knew Mangurian from when she worked at Cornell, and he was the successful head football coach there.

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Anonymous posted on

Penn is three times Columbia's size in which a third of the our school are engineers, and actively recruits academically unqualified players (like Harvard does.)

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Anonymous posted on

This argument is flawed. Dartmouth, a smaller school, has a respectable football team.
Do not underestimate the impact having a good football team has on moral, school spirit and alumni giving.
To people who say they don't want to put resources into a football program, you are being penny wise and pound foolish.
Having a loosing football team reflects poorly on our university. Do we believe in excellence in everything we do or not. Clearly schools like HYP believe in excellence in athletics and scholarship. We should too if we aspire to be their peers. Athletics and intellectual persuits go hand in hand. They are not mutually exclusive. Even the Rhodes' scholarship places emphasis on athletic and scholarly ability.

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Anonymous posted on

Go ahead and lambast my typo on "moral". My argument still holds.

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Carl Nidray posted on

I was under the impression that our league has an academic index for athletic admission. Can you provide specific documentation for this assertion. We are successful in other sports like baseball. Is it becaues of "unqualified" baseball players?

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Anonymous posted on

Whatever! After so many losing seasons the administration should definitely make a major enquiry into this matter and take serious action. It's obviously not just the coach, but the quality and motivation of the players. And furthermore, if it were just for the game, which serious player would like to play for Columbia with such a reputation? It must be more than that.

And I won't blame the Band if they make jokes of the team again!

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Anonymous posted on

I'd rather put money into the quality of Columbia education than the quality of our football team.

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