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Columbia beats odds, Brown in final game of season

NEW YORK — Columbia had fallen to Brown 11 of the last 12 seasons. The Lions had won only two Ivy League games this year, against Dartmouth and Cornell — the two losingest teams in the Ivy League. And its starting quarterback, who had been the hero last week against Cornell, was injured. But in the final game of the season, the Lions beat the Bears, 28-14.

Before the game, Head Coach Phil Estes called the Lions "a dangerous football team."

"The one thing I look at that stands out is their pass defense," Estes said. "They really do a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback and making him sometimes throw into some bad coverages."

Estes saw that in person on Saturday.

Quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11 was pressured often and threw two interceptions, one of which went back for a touchdown. He opened the game with a four-of-four passing drive for 73 yards, but couldn't put together another scoring drive until late in the fourth quarter.

"We got beat every which way," Estes said. "After that first drive and we went down and scored, we didn't play on offense and we didn't tackle on defense."

On Brown's second possession, Newhall-Caballero hit Buddy Farnham '10 in stride with a deep ball, but Farnham lost it in the sun and dropped the pass on third down, forcing Brown to punt.

"We drop a pass, and I think, boy, that's not a great way to start things," Estes said.

Despite Brown's struggles, Columbia had only a 14-7 lead with two seconds left in the first half. With time for one more snap and the ball 37 yards away from the end zone, Newhall-Caballero heaved the ball up for Bobby Sewall '10 downfield, near Columbia safety Adam Mehrer. But Sewall didn't run his route correctly and wasn't in the right place, as Estes tells it.

Mehrer was.

The Columbia safety picked the ball off and ran it back into Brown territory. Columbia cornerback Andy Shalbrak trailed Mehrer, yelling for the lateral. When Mehrer was hit by Newhall-Caballero at midfield, he pitched the ball to Shalbrak.

"There was two seconds left when the play started. So after the interception, I knew there was no time left," Mehrer said. "I looked and saw Andy, and I was like, he's faster than me. So I pitched it to him, and the rest is history."

Shalbrak broke free down the left sideline and ran 49 yards to the end zone, giving the Lions a 21-7 lead going into halftime.

"The touchdown at the end of the half was just a huge momentum swing and a killer for us," Estes said.

When asked what he told his team at halftime, Estes demurred.

"I can't tell you. You wouldn't want to hear it," he said.

The Bears came out of the locker room with the advantage of receiving to begin the second half. But they went three-and-out on their opening possession.

Neither team scored in the third quarter. But midway through the fourth, the Lions made it a 28-7 game with a six-play drive highlighted by Columbia freshman quarterback Sean Brackett's 32-yard run and 37-yard touchdown pass to Austin Knowlin.

Brackett, who stepped in for an injured M.A. Olawale, was 10-of-19 passing for 151 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He added 171 yards on the ground on 20 carries.

"He ran all over the place," Estes said of Brackett. "That's pretty impressive."

Just after Columbia's final score, Brown came back and ran its first successful drive since early in the opening quarter. Newhall-Caballero led his team 77 yards down the field in just 1:09 and hit Farnham on a short pass that the senior wide receiver turned into a touchdown.

In the last game of his career, Farnham had nine catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. The performance brought his season totals to 1,003 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

"He was excited coming into this game to make some plays, and it didn't quite happen that way. I mean, he made nine catches and two touchdowns, and certainly that was big," Estes said.

But not big enough.

On the final play of the game Olawale came in for one last snap in a Columbia uniform. He downed it, and the Lions celebrated.

"You really couldn't draw it up any better to complete the career," Columbia's Shalbrak said. "It's kind of a fairy tale ending."

Not for the Bears. 




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