NEW YORK, N.Y. - Even though wide receiver Hakeem Moore caught another long touchdown pass to continue his very productive senior season, Towson University (1-3) couldn't control Columbia quarterback Sean Brackett as the Lions (1-1) dealt the Tigers a 24-10 non-conference loss at Robert Kraft Field at Lawrence Wien Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
During most of the first half, the Tiger defense put a lot of pressure on Brackett. However, as the game wore on, he did a very good job avoiding the pressure and improvising plays.
After taking a 7-3 halftime lead, the Lions controlled the second half and pulled away for a 24-10 win.
"Hats off to Coach (Norries) Wilson and his coaching staff,' said Towson Coach Rob Ambrose. "Their players played very hard and they earned themselves a win."
The two defenses controlled the play for the most of the first quarter as neither team could threaten to score. In the first quarter, the two teams combined for just five first downs and only 119 yards of total yards.
As the first quarter ended, Columbia was on the move. An 18-yard run by Brackett on the final play of the quarter gave Columbia a first down at the Tigers' 44-yard line. However, the Lions' drive was ended when sophomore defensive end Matt Morgan sacked Brackett at the Lions' 47-yard line, forcing a 53-yard punt by Greg Guttas.
Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Tigers put together their best drive of the first half. On the first three plays, Nygee Carmichael picked up 18 yards on three carries. After Tremayne Dameron picked up 16 yards on a pair of runs, hooked up with senior Hakeem Moore for a six-yard gain at the Lions' 42-yard line. Two plays later, Blanchard hooked up with Moore on a 16-yard pass play as the Tigers reached the Columbia 20-yard line.Bart Blanchard
On third down at the 18-yard line, Blanchard threw a short pass to Carmichael, who reached the 11-yard line, just one yard short of a first down. Rather than try for the first down, the Tigers sent senior Nick Wallace into the game to try a 28-yard field goal. When he connected, the Tigers owned a 3-0 lead with six minutes left in the first half. The Tigers marched 69 yards in 14 plays and took 7:40 off the clock, more than half the second quarter.
Led by Brackett, Columbia responded with an impressive drive of its own. Avoiding the Tigers' pass rush, Brackett completed all four pass attempts for 69 yards on the drive. At the Tigers' 19-yard line, Brackett avoided the rush, stepped to his left and fired a 19-yard touchdown pass to running back Zach Kourouma along the sideline. Kourouma made it to the end zone for a touchdown that gave the Lions the lead. When Luke Eddy converted, Columbia had a 7-3 lead with 2:14 remaining in the first half.
On their first possession of the second half, the Lions extended their lead. A 38-yard run by senior Leon Ivery gave the Lions a first down at the Tigers' 27-yard line. Five plays later, Ivery scored on a five-yard touchdown run to give Columbia a 14-3 lead.
Midway through the third quarter, junior defensive back Nick Oates intercepted a pass by Brackett at the Tigers' 38-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Chris Hart threw a long pass that Hakeem Moore caught at the Columbia 30 yard. Moore avoided two tackles and scored his fifth touchdown of the season. His 62-yard catch for a TD was his fourth reception of more than 50 yards in the first four games of the year.
His TD reception cut the Tigers' deficit to 14-10.
However, that was all the offense the Tigers could generate the rest of the game.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, sophomore Nick Gerst capped off an 80-yard, 11-play drive by scoring on a five-yard TD run to give Columbia 21-14 advantage.
With 8:46 left, Eddy kicked a 37-yard field goal to round out the scoring.
For the Tigers, Blanchard, a transfer from The Citadel, made his first start at quarterback for the Tigers. He completed 13 of 20 passes for 89 yards. Hart, who started the Tigers' first three games, also saw extensive action against the Lions. He completed 9 of 14 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown. Each threw one interception.
"We are not looking to rotate quarterbacks," explained Coach Ambrose. "Chris Hart won the job in the pre-season. But, we cannot be successful if we are turning the ball over. No quarterback can play for us if he keeps turning the ball over."
Moore has now caught 13 passes for 352 yards and five touchdowns. He is averaging 27.1 yards per reception. He also has 695 all-purpose yards in four games.
"Hakeem is doing a great job for us," says Ambrose. "He has really grown as a player and a person."
Brackett led Columbia by completing 11 of 15 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown. He also led the Lions by running for 89 yards on 17 carries.
Next week, the Tigers return to Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas® Stadium to host 11th-ranked Massachusetts next Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.
TIGER TALES: Dangerfield leads the Tigers with 34 tackles on the season ... Oates' interception was the Tigers' first of the season and the first interception of his career ... Sophomore Kyle Moore, a transfer from Minnesota, had four receptions for 41 yards at Columbia ... The Tigers, who had only two sacks in the first three games, recorded four sacks at Columbia, led by Morgan, who had a pair of sacks.
Last season, Tiger quarterbacks threw nine touchdown passes in 11 games ... After four games this season, they have thrown eight TD passes ... With the loss to Columbia, the Tigers now have an all-time record of 3-6 against Ivy League teams.
The Tigers have played without wide receiver Tom Ryan the last two games ... They are hoping he can return to action this week ... In two games, Ryan has caught nine passes for 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns.