Desperate teams Wagner, Columbia meet
(STATS) – It’s not quite the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, but it’s close.
The losing is going to continue for one team Saturday night when winless Wagner makes the 29-mile trip to Wien Stadium to face a Columbia squad seeking its first victory in almost three years.
Seeing Columbia at 0-3 isn’t at all surprising since it entered this season with 21 straight losses and hasn’t had a winning campaign since 1996. The Lions’ 24-game skid is the longest in Division I.
Success has come with far more regularity for Wagner, which shared the Northeast Conference title last season and won nine games in 2012. Those seasons, however, came under legend Walt Hameline, who stepped down following 34 years at the helm and was replaced by offensive coordinator Jason Houghtaling in November.
The Seahawks are 0-4 for the first time since opening 0-4-1 in 1956. They haven’t started a season with five consecutive defeats since the previous year, when they lost all seven games.
Both teams have struggled to generate consistent offense and rank as two of the lowest-scoring teams in the FCS.
The Lions are 111th out of 125 teams with 15.0 points per game, while the Seahawks (15.5) are only slightly better.
Those weak offenses were on display last weekend.
Wagner enjoyed a rare lead, using a pair of field goals for a 6-3 halftime edge against Robert Morris on Saturday only to go scoreless in the second half and lose 9-6 on a last-minute field goal.
Matthias McKinnon was a bright spot, rushing for a career-high 139 yards on 22 carries. That wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for a poor performance from sophomore Alex Thomson, who completed 6 of 14 passes for 45 yards while getting sacked seven times.
"We’ve just got to get better, we have to execute," Houghtaling said. "We ran the ball well this week, we threw it well last week. We just have to put everything together."
Thomson’s game was disappointing after he completed 15 of 23 for 219 yards with a pair of touchdowns the previous week against Lafayette.
"We didn’t get as good a play out of the quarterback position," Houghtaling said. "That’s on me, nobody else. I have to do a better job coaching the quarterback position."
While it has yet to result in a victory, the Lions have made progress since a season-opening 20-point loss to Fordham.
They followed that with a 24-16 defeat to Georgetown and nearly overcame four turnovers in last Saturday’s 10-5 loss at Princeton in a game played in a driving rainstorm.
Columbia remained winless since Nov. 10, 2012.
"I feel incredibly bad for our kids, just because of the effort that they put forth and they deserve better than this," coach Al Bagnoli said. "We’re showing improvement but we don’t have a heck of a lot to show for it in the won-loss record."
Another quarterback looking to bounce back is Skyler Mornhinweg, who was 6 of 20 for 102 yards with three interceptions against Princeton. He entered the contest fifth in the FCS with a 69.8 completion percentage.
There were some positives for the Lions in their latest loss, as they held one of the top offenses in the FCS to one touchdown, nine first downs and 56 passing yards.
The Tigers totaled 92 points, 54 first downs and 500 yards through the air in their first two games.
This will be Wagner’s first game against Columbia and its first meeting with an Ivy League opponent since a 31-7 loss to Cornell on Oct. 1, 2011.