Welcome to www.Collegefootballfan.com
"Get off the couch and go to a game!"
The Goal - See 'em all!
#19 Hampton Buccaneers (4-1) score 34 second half points to defeat Princeton (2-2) , 48-27; 21 points scored in final 4:31
Princeton, NJ - The Hampton U. Buccaneers (4-1), ranked 19th in the College Championship Division, tied the Princeton Tigers at 27-all with 9:56 remaining in the game, and then forced three Tiger turnovers in Princeton territory and converted them into scores to take the first meeting ever between the two historic programs, 48-27. PU took a 27-14 halftime lead, but Charles Robinson's 80-yard interception return in the third period was a prelude to the balance of the game as the Hampton defense forced three turnovers after the game was tied 27-27, and converted each into a TD to win over the 2-2 Tigers, 48-27. The refereeing in this game was horrible throughout with bad calls against both squads, but especially on the Buccaneers tying drive. Hampton's marching band, "The Force", entertained the 15,329 in attendance on a bright, hot, sunny October afternoon. Princeton had opportunities in the first half to build an even wider margin, but HU’s defense held the Tigers on several occasions to FG attempts when touchdowns would have been big. It was an ironic finish statistic-wise, but four INTs for the Buccaneers were keys to the Hampton win. The Tigers out-gained the Bucs in rushing, passing, and return yardage, 204 to 124, 280 to 229, and 208 to 91 respectively, but HU’s defense returned four INTs for 199 yards and 2 TDs compared to one pick for PU with no return yards.
Hampton took the lead first on their second possession with an 80-yard scoring drive culminating with RB Van Morgan scoring from the two. Carlo Turavani converted the extra point for a 7-0 Hampton lead. Princeton came right back on its next possession starting from the 32. On a third and twelve at the Buc 19, QB Bill Foran threw a pass to TE Jake Staser in the end zone where the ball was tipped up and Staser gained control with both feet inbounds before falling out of the back of the end zone. Connor Louden’s PAT knotted the score, 7-7. HU started its next drive from its 40-yard line after a high, short kick-off. The Bucs drove the length of the field with RB Kevin Beverly (77 yards on 12 carries) scoring on a 4-yard run for his first of his three TDs. PU was on the move before the first period expired with a 46-yard play on a well-executed flea flicker. Sub QB Greg Mroz lateraled to Bill Foran on the right side who then wheeled and threw back to Mroz. Mroz hauled it downfield to WR Adam Berry to the HU 25. The Tigers set up for a FG attempt after a no-call on an evident defensive interference call. As one nearby fan exclaimed, “You can play the ball, but you can’t run up his back!” Agreed! The call was even more blatant when we saw a key pass interference call against the Tigers later in the game. Louden missed the 24-yard FG attempt. The Tigers got a break to get the ball back when HU’s QB TJ Mitchell mishandled the snap from center, and DT Pat Gallagher recovered at Hampton’s 34. The Tigers could only move to the HU 19 where Louden booted a 36-yard FG. The Tiger defense sacked Mitchell on the next series resulting in another Hampton fumble where LB Collin McCarthy recovered at Hampton’s seven. After a questionable no-call for intentional grounding which would have set PU back even further, the Tigers settled for three more points on Louden’s 21-yard FG to cut the Hampton lead, 14-13. PU’s next drive was aided by a bad roughing the passer call. The hit was nowhere near late! Foran’s seven-yard QB draw up the middle put the Tigers in front, 20-14. Hampton punted from its own 20 on the next series as the Hampton fans chanted, “The Force is comin’ at ya!” as the Hampton Marching Band prepped along the sideline for the halftime show. But “the Force” wasn’t with P Jamaal Blanchard as he scooped up a bad snap, and ran for his life around the left end to the 29 where Princeton took over once again in Hampton territory. This time, the Tigers capitalized with six. Foran connected with WR Will Thanheiser on a fourth and fourteen to the Hampton 8-Yard line. Foran took it up the middle again from there. With 1:24 remaining and three TOs left though, Hampton drove 74 yards to an apparent TD that got called back for an ineligible receiver downfield. On second and twenty-one, DB Dan Kolopovich picked off Mitchell’s pass in the end zone to take the fourteen point lead into the locker rooms at intermission. PU had a comfortable 27-14 lead at the half.
Not tailgating at this game and planning to get back for a Pee Wee football game in the evening, I found parking at a parking garage on campus for the first time ever. It was a short, scenic walk to Princeton Stadium passing ivy-covered brick walls and concrete statues of Tigers atop brick facades interrupted by wrought iron gates withstanding the test of time since before the foundation of the Ancient Eight. Before heading down a roadway leading to the north end of the stadium, the beat of drums was heard as I turned down the street. The Princeton Marching Band's drum major, wearing a Bishop’s miter with a Princeton logo on it and thrusting his baton into the air, led the tiger-striped, suit-jacketed PU marching band, about forty strong, to the venue of the upcoming fray. I waited for the entire band to pass before following. The last “percussionist” in line beat cadence on a broken, plastic, Halloween pumpkin shell with one drumstick. It carried a pretty good tone. Down the narrow street along an ivy-covered wall, the cadence sounded very strong. After buying a $10 reserve ticket, which actually lets you sit just about anywhere one wants in Princeton Stadium, I continued to follow the band into stadium walkway under the stands where the echoes from within made the band sound stronger and louder. They also sang a Princeton song. It was traditional Ivy League pre-game fanfare at its best! I eventually perched myself temporarily in the north end zone as both teams went through pre-game, warm-up rituals while I decided where the most strategic section was to enjoy the game. Then came the drum beats from the far end of the visitors’ side of Princeton Stadium, only to eventually be blasted out by some canned rap music blared over the Princeton Stadium PA system. The Hampton band, dance team, and flag staff, clad in colorful white and blue uniforms, didn’t miss a beat despite the high decibel interference. With precision, the band high-stepped along the sideline and to the ramp into the stands, rhythmically bouncing their instruments and marching slowly up the steps to their seats one step at a time until the entire band and pep squads were in their assigned seats for the game. As they stood in front of their individual seats, each musician swayed in rhythm as the grand entrance continued. When they finally played, and the PA system was thankfully turned off, the entire band swayed in rhythm while the dance team performed from their seats, and four tall drum majors in high, white caps danced along the sideline. It was a performance never witnessed before among the hallowed halls of this Ivy institution. As reported in the game program, only Yale of the Ivies had once before hosted a historically Black, MEAC school, Morgan State, back in 1984. The band performed sporadically during the first half, and the crowd stirred as they prepped on the sideline as the first thirty minutes wound down. Halftime started with the introduction of the Princeton Tiger band to start, with the always-witty band announcer introducing them with the statement, “About to be totally upstaged – The Princeton University band!” The announcer did the usual little digs about the Tiger opposition, making references to many hotel chains including "Hampton", and eventually making light of some fictional courses offered at H.U. including "Pirate Studies", a al Buccaneers, featuring courses teaching the “classics” like the “Pirates of Penzance” and “Muppet Treasure Island” among others “Buccaneer” tales which segued the band into the “Muppet Show” theme song. Very cute – typical Ivy (except for Cornell’s red-clad, milkman-looking band). Then came out the Hampton Marching Band – “The Force!” What a show. The beat and performance of the entire band dancing is outstanding. I don’t even know what they played, but they are great to watch. Jumping, swinging, and gyrating to the beat of drums, it was right out of “Drum Line!” Most of all, the entire band just seems to have a great time performing, and the entire audience stays to watch the show. It’s an entertaining performance in the truest sense of college football tradition! By the way, I had chosen my premium seat on the fifty-yard line in the upper section of the visitors’ side even though my ticket was good for the section right below. It was a great seat which I realize is in about the same location when I first visited old Palmer Stadium for my first game ever on a school-sponsored Saturday trip back in 1966 when Colgate defeated the Tigers, 7-0. The only disappointment to the seat this time, however, was that the band performed primarily for the home side. I complain less though because it was a good view of some booty-shaking (the dance team I mean). One Hampton fan with her friends arrived after the game began, and as she sat, she commented; “Now this is a real football stadium.” I’ve never been to Hampton’s, but the more I watched the game, the more I looked around thinking what she said. I realized that Princeton Stadium is one of my favorites to watch a game at. It’s not too big, or too small. It’s got great sightlines when sitting upstairs. It’s got a great, well-kept, artificial playing surface. The seating areas have plenty of leg room even when people walk by. The concession areas are along wide walkways below the stands. They just put in a state-of-the-art big screen for replays. Ticket prices range from $5-$10, parking is cheap, and game programs are free. In recent years, exciting football games have been played there! It definitely is a great place to watch a college football game. I was also anticipating another great finish!
The first Princeton possession ended the same way Hampton’s last offensive possession of the first half ended – with an interception. However, instead of thwarting a touchdown with a catch in the end zone, Hampton LB Charles Robinson took the tipped, Tiger pass and rumbled 80 yards for a Buccaneer score to cut the PU lead to 27-21. Those missed TD opportunities by the Tigers in the first half started to look costly. The next Tiger drive resulted in another INT deep in Hampton territory, and neither team would not threaten to score again until the quarter was about to close.
On the first play of the final period, PU had a fourth and one at the Hampton 1-foot line. Going for six, Foran slipped on the pitch and RB Kenny Gunther slipped with the ball as well for a loss to give Hampton possession on their own four. The Bucs got out of trouble quickly with a 24-yard pass out to their 28. Princeton seemed to have things well in hand when DB Carl Kelly knocked down a critical third down pass which was almost picked off by a Tiger teammate on the deflection. However, from far and deep from the opposite side of Power Field, came the flag of the back judge. I sat right above the clean play and saw no contact other than Kelly’s hand on the ball, but this blatantly bad call kept the Buc drive alive! A personal foul call along the far side line against the Tigers a few plays later put the ball on the PU eight. From where I sat, it looked like another terrible call as the Princeton player who got flagged seemed to be in the midst of going down with a leg cramp, one of several suffered by PU players on this unseasonably warm, October evening. Van Morgan scored from the one for Hampton to tie it up at 27, but PU’s Matt Murphy blocked the PAT to keep the score intact. We had ourselves a typical, down-to-the-wire Princeton football game at the stadium in its tenth year of existence, or so we thought. RB Rob Toresco fumbled the ball away on PU’s ensuing possession, and Hampton recovered at the Tigers’ 43. On a third and two, Mitchell ran a draw to the Princeton three. From there, Beverly took it in to give HU the lead, 34-27, with 4:31 left on the clock. Plenty of time for a Tiger comeback remained for a typical, down-to-the-wire Princeton football game, or so we thought. Foran’s next pass was picked off by DB Sam Pope and returned to PU’s 23. Boom! Beverly ran 21 yards to the Princeton two. Three plays later, he took it in for his third and final score. 2:12 remained with the Bucs in the lead, 41-27. Stranger things have happened in down-to-the-wire Princeton football games, or so we hoped! With a minute left, Pope, not wearing a miter as was Princeton’s drum major, homed in on QB Greg Mroz’s pass and streaked 50 yards the other way to settle the score, 48-27! Like their band, Hampton’s football team put on quite a show in the second half with 34 unanswered points. The tying score came with 9:56 left in the game. The final 21 points got chalked up in the last 4:31 of the game. Though there was lots of scoring in the end, it was not the typical, down-to-the-wire Princeton football game. It was much different.
Both teams go back into conference play next week. The Bucs play at nearby rival Norfolk State while the Tigers go to Providence, RI to play Brown. The Tigers showed until the final minutes of play that they can compete with the best of 1AA despite their Ivy League reputation. Ranked just ahead of HU is Ivy leader Yale, who destroyed Dartmouth this weekend, 50-10. We plan to see the Tigers play once more time this year when they face this Ivy nemesis on November 10. For CollegeFootballFan.com's upcoming football slate, among college, high school, Sprint, and Pee Wee football games, we figured that this was the second among ten games we plan to attend over 15 days. Ya gotta love it!
Extra points: Both teams are now at .500 in the annals of Collegefootballfan.com history. The Tigers fell to 11-11 since we first was them play back in 1966! The Bucs are now 1-1. Our previous Hampton experience saw them in 1-AA play-off action in 1998 when we saw them lose to UConn coached by Skip Holtz, 42-34, in the final year before the Huskies joined the ranks of 1-A.
Princeton’s PA announcer read the official Ivy League statement pertaining to sportsmanship before the game. I just wished they’d think about that though before they blare loud music over the systems when the marching bands are playing. It’s part of the spirit and aura surrounding college football. Leave that recorded stuff at the Pro games.
Seen prowling the Tiger sideline was #61, Frosh OL Michael Crowder from Blountville, TN. We met Michael and his parents last season when they attended the PU-Penn game. His Dad told us that his son preferred coming to Tiger Town. We hope to see him play there over the next few years.
We saw more of QB Greg Mroz (7 of 11 for 99 yards and 2 INTs) than we expected, but we wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of him when we go to see the Yale game. I think Coach Roger Hughes believes Bill Foran is more effective at slot back and running back.
Roaming Hampton’s sideline is 6-9, 343 lb Freshman Tony Clegg. Listed as an offensive tackle, he reminds one of the first time we saw Shaquille O’Neal play basketball on TV. It was like the guy was living in another dimension. I’d love to see Tony at nose tackle on defense just to see him toss guys aside. He’s huge! And only a freshman!
You know when the refs make a bad call at Princeton Stadium. They don’t show the replays!
A special post-game feature was announced. Both bands would be performing after the game. I had to get going to a Pee Wee game, but I would like to have stayed to watch Hampton again. To be honest, I liked the PU band, too – primarily because I think the guy with the pumpkin head played that thing better than anyone else I’d ever seen!
Navy Sprint Football team whips Cornell in The Pride Bowl
Union, NJ - We ventured to Union, NJ on Sunday afternoon to see the XXIX edition of the Pride Bowl, a fundraising football event to raise money for scholarship programs for kids from Newark, NJ. This game featured two of the five remaining teams that still play “Sprint” football – college teams whose players must weigh a maximum of 172 pounds. The players along the sideline were described by 12-year old Guest Game Analyst Eric Koreivo as “those skinny players.” We stayed until nine minutes remained in the third period as Navy totally dominated Cornell’s Big Red (Little Red?), 28-0. Both teams were much more “sprinting-oriented” than passing-oriented, although we could claim Cornell was more punting-oriented, so Navy seemed to have the game well in hand. Navy RB Rich Engel broke the deadlock with 1:22 remaining in the first quarter with a 65-yard scoring jaunt. Nate Stewart sprinted 55 yards for Navy’s next score in the second period. To start the third, Navy drove 62 yards as QB John DeWitt took it in on a 1-yard sneak. Navy’s next possession resulted in a 59-yard catch and run for a TD by WR Nash Bagby. We tired of watching Cornell’s punting clinic on another hot, sunny October afternoon, and left. Cornell’s contingent let out their loudest cheer when they earned a first down late in the second period. Until we find out the final score, there are two points to be made about this game – Project Pride and Sprint football.
We like both concepts. Despite a lackluster Pride Bowl game this year, it’s for a good cause. Kids that benefit got to parade around the track at Kean University with Midshipmen as two bag pipers led the way. The Malcolm X. Shabazz HS band performed at the half. The game's been held at different venues over the years in the Essex County (NJ) area, and it’s the first time we got to attend. We’re not aware of previous turnouts, but there’s been some good ones as the event has earned over $1.7 million for 1,000 scholarships and after-school programs over the years. Army-Navy was the Sprint match-up during the previous four years. No matter what the sport, the rivalry between these two is intense. You can’t go wrong. It brings along pageantry, intensity, and rivalry. We’re not sure if the novelty of this game wore off after four games, but maybe Sprint ball has run its course for the event. We’re interested to see what the committee will come up with for edition XXX. Bring in two good, local D-III teams, or match up a good local against power house Mt. Union, or bring in the Coast Guard and Kings Point for two years to play for the annual Secretary's Cup. You could schedule other interesting events aound that one. Or, make XXX a little more special and get a Princeton of Rutgers game as the center-piece. A game like yesterday's game between Princeton and Hampton would have been an idea, or better yet, have the Tigers host Delaware State, the school the three executed Newark college students attended.
As far as Sprint football is concerned, it’s a shame that only five schools still participate – Navy, Cornell, Army, Princeton, and Penn. Budget constraints and Title IX reduced the competition. Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Rutgers competed at a time when it was referred to a 150-lb football. The actual weight limit was 158 lbs. VMI entered the competition last year, but did not return a team into action this year. The shame of it is that there’s a lot of former, good, high school football players attending college who had to give up the game only because they weren’t behemoths, or lacked the speed associated with big time programs. The game was created in the late 1800's to provide students with an outlet to release a lot of pent-up energy. There’s not a lot of difference between the youth of the past and the youth of today. It’s too bad that a lot of talented kids looking for an outlet lose the opportunity to continue any form of playing organized football because they don't have what it takes for the next level. Instead of pom-pom waving, they could still be playing ball on a college weekend. It would be great if schools who already have big-time programs and schools that have no programs could offer the existing student body try-outs to play for a Sprint football team. Don’t recruit, use student coaches, play local to stay within a budget, use existing facilities. You can find 40 kids at Penn State willing to play just as you could find as many as schools like St. Peter's and Seton Hall who no longer have football programs. I may be over simplifying things, but it would be a great opportunity for a lot of kids who still have a desire to play a game they love for at least four more years!