MANHATTAN, N.Y. – It took some time, but Dante Miller infused electricity into the air and that proved to be the tonic as Columbia picked up a milestone win in the long history of the program with a 23-14 win over visiting Penn on Saturday at Wien Stadium.
The win was the 400th in Columbia history and gave the Lions their third win in the last four meetings with the longtime Ivy League rival. The Quakers still lead the all-time series 75-24-1.
The triumph was also the 258th win in the long coaching career of Columbia’s Al Bagnoli who No. 2 in wins among active NCAA coaches. Only North Carolina’s Mack Brown has more. Brown and the Tar Heels slipped past Miami 45-42 earlier on Saturday to give Brown 260 career wins to remain two games ahead of Bagnoli.
Miller took a handoff late in the second quarter, and by the time he was done running, the Lions had the lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
Miller broke to the left and found the sideline and scampered virtually untouched on a play that covered 75 yards. Alex Felkins’ PAT put the Lions in front 10-7 with 4:02 left in the second quarter.
Columbia would add to its lead a short time later when Wills Meyer took a pass from quarterback Joe Green and turned it into a 41-yard scoring play and the Lions built their lead to 17-7 following Felkins second successful conversion.
The Quakers appeared to regain some momentum just before halftime when Isaiah Malcome ran in from 30 yards out with just 36 seconds left in the half to cut the deficit to 17-14 at the intermission following a PAT kick from Daniel Karrash.
Neither team seriously challenged to find the end zone in the final two quarters of play. But the Lions were able to thwart any hopes of a come-from-behind win by the visitors on a pair of field goals from Felkins. He connected on a 31-yarder with 7:38 left in the third quarter and tacked on a 20-yard kick with 2:53 left in the game to the final points of the contest.
Felkins, who finished with three field goals on the day, kicked a 32-yarder in the first period to give the Lions a 3-0 lead with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter.
Backup quarterback Maurcus McDaniel gave Penn its only lead of the game a short time after replacing starting quarterback John Quinnelly who left the field after being hit hard by a pair of Columbia defenders while scrambling and forcing the Quakers to punt.
The ensuing punt was muffed by Columbia and recovered by the Quakers on the Columbia-30. McDaniel scored six plays later to put his team in front 7-3 with 4:10 remaining in the quarter.
Miller, though, was the star of the game for the Lions. He finished the game with 187 yards on 16 carries and the one touchdown and racked up the bulk of the 244 yards the Lions compiled on the ground on the afternoon. Green, meanwhile, finished the day with 182 passing yards after completing 12 of 22 passes for Columbia. The Lions totaled 426 yards of total offense in the game.
Penn could only muster 267 yards of total offense against the Columbia defense. Malcome was the leading rusher with 83 yards for the Quakers, who 184 yards on the ground and just 83 yards through the air. Quennelly completed just six of 25 passes on the afternoon.
Columbia improved to 1-1 in Ivy League play with the win and is now 4-1 on the season. Penn fell to 0-2 in the league and 2-3 on the season. The Lions hit the road for a pair of games at Dartmouth (Oct. 22) and Yale (Oct. 30) before returning home on Nov. 6 to entertain Harvard. Penn plays at Yale next weekend and returns home on Oct. 30 to face Brown.
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.