Sports | Football

Football readies for Friday matchup against Yale

Football seeks its second consecutive win on Friday evening as the Lions welcome Yale to Robert K. Kraft Field.

The Light Blue (2-4, 1-2 Ivy) enters the contest after dispatching Dartmouth 9-7 on Saturday for its first Homecoming victory since 2000. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs (1-5, 1-2 Ivy) have dropped their last two games, including a 42-7 home loss to Penn a week ago.

“I think you’re going to play a team that’s aching to put Penn on the back burner and move forward and take out all of their ills on us,” Columbia head coach Al Bagnoli said. “We’re going to face an angry Yale team.”

Bagnoli noted that he delivered a similar message after a brief Sunday practice, with the Friday kickoff forcing the Lions into a condensed week.

“Our ability to put Dartmouth in the rearview mirror and look forward is really going to determine our fate,” he said. “It left a great taste in everyone’s mouth, but you’ve got to forget it.”

The Bulldogs currently share fourth in the Ivy league with Columbia, Brown, and Yale—their lone victory came against the Big Green, 21-13. But running back Alan Lamar has emerged in recent weeks to lift Yale’s spirits and headline a rushing attack that averages nearly 177 yards per contest.

If the Lions can contain Lamar and senior Dale Harris in the backfield, the game could hinge on sophomore quarterback Tre Moore’s arm. He’s thrown five interceptions versus just three touchdowns in six games this fall, having completed less than half of his throws.

But even with another dominant defensive performance, the Light Blue can ill afford to continue settling for field goals if they intend to top last year’s 17-7 win. While first-year kicker Oren Milstein has won two games alone with his right leg, Bagnoli was candid after the Dartmouth game, saying that the Lions need to capitalize on opportunities in the red zone.

He reiterated on Tuesday that the offense is still a work in progress, with the emphasis on continuing to generate big plays. Wide receiver Josh Wainwright has been the most consistent deep target through the air, but the first-year has dropped a number of passes since his return from a lower-body injury. Perhaps the most notable drop came against Dartmouth on a long pass towards the near corner of the end zone. Junior quarterback Anders Hill’s throw was perfect, but the ball sailed right through the first-year’s outstretched arms.

Luckily for the offense, they’ll face a Yale team that has allowed nearly 41 points per game this season. A strong nonconference slate against Colgate, Lehigh, and Fordham slightly skews that total, but the Lions should have ample opportunity to find the end zone on Friday evening.

Kickoff starts at 7 p.m. at Robert K. Kraft field. Follow the live blog beginning at 6 p.m. for all of the pregame action.

dan.radov@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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