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Princeton Comeback Jolts Yale , 34-31, to Grab Share of Ivy Lead;
Tiger Jeff Terrell throws for 445 yards and 3 TDs
New Haven, CT - Like the other NJ team who played to start this thing back in 1869, Princeton came from behind to beat a conference nemesis in a battle for first place with strong defense in the second half. Ranked #21 in 1AA football, the Tigers came back from a first-half 21-7 deficit to knock Yale off its Ivy League pedestal for a 34-31 victory to tie the Bulldogs for the conference lead. Like Rutgers on Thursday night, Princeton's defense rose to the occasion allowing only three points in the second half after an INT by Yale at their own 21-yard line. QB Jeff Terrell had his hands on the ball on all five Princeton TDs as he threw for 445 yards and three TD passes. This win gives Princeton control over their own destiny in the Ivy League as it finishes its season next week at home to Dartmouth (2-7, 2-4). If Harvard (7-2,5-2), who fell to Penn this weekend, 22-13, defeats archrival Yale next week in Cambridge, MA, and Princeton prevails over the Big Green, the Tigers will win the Ivy League outright after being selected to finish sixth in the pre-season polls. If Yale wins, the Tigers and Bulldogs will share the title since both would finish 6-1 in League play. CFF enjoyed an exciting game on a beautiful , sunny afternoon, and to top it all off, we enjoyed free sandwiches and beers at a hospitality tent sponsored by Annheiser-Busch and radio station PLR. Donations were given to the Connecticut Food Bank. It was a worthwhile cause and a fun time where we met other college football fans who had seen some games we'd also seen earlier this year. It doesn't get much better than this along with $8 per ticket and free parking.
Yale PK Alan Kimball missed a 36-yard FG attempt wide left on Yale's first series, but the Bulldogs would not misfire again in the first half. The Bulldogs (also called Elis) started their second possession from their own one-yard line. RB Matt Murray (8 rushes for 63 yards) ran 32 yards to the Tiger's three, and with :02 remaining in the first period, TB Mike McLeod ( 30 for 181 yards and 4 TDs) ran it in from the two off right tackle. Kimball's PAT was good, and Yale led 7-0 as the quarter came to a close.
Princeton turned the ball over to Yale on downs after it took the ball to the Yale 39 on its following drive. On Yale's first play, McLeod rambled 46 yards to the PU 15. Two plays later, McLeod broke one tackle and went 14 yards for his and Yale's second TD of the day to lead, 14-0. The Yale line was opening up huge holes quite contrary to how we saw PU defend against Brown earlier in the season. Guest Game Analyst (GGA) Charlie Roberts, Lehigh grad and Yale fan, commented that the Elis "were just running all over them." On Princeton's following possession, Terrell ran through the middle from the Yale 23, but the ball popped loose only to have WR Adam Berry scoop up the ball and run it the remaining thirteen yards for a Princeton TD. Matt Lichtenstein's point after cut the Yale lead, 14-7. Yale started its next drive from the 22. A scramble by QB Matt Polhemus (10 rushes for 77 yards and 8 of 18 passing for 88 yards) put the Bulldogs at the Tigers' six. McLeod took it around right end for a 21-7 Yale lead. Pete Plozek returned the ensuing kick to his own 33. Princeton addressed a sense of urgency with a no-huddle offense. Terrell completed four straight passes to get to Yale's six yard line. From there, he dropped back again, but ran a delayed QB draw around left end for a six-yard scoring run. PU was back in the ballgame quickly and showed that it could match Yale's running game with its passing game, down now, 21-14. However, Yale showed that it could move the ball through the air as Polhemus threw a short pass that WR Chandler Henley took 27 yards to the Princeton six after DB Tim Strickland missed a sure tackle. McLeod's number was called again as he started to the outside before cutting back inside for a nice six-yard TD run. With 1:09 remaining and Yale in the lead, 28-14, GGA Roberts observed that the Bulldogs had not yet punted once in the game. Studying his Yale GameDay Program, our GGA found a statistic indicating that the most Yale had ever scored versus Princeton came in a 51-14 route back in 1922! He predicted that the Elis would exceed that total by the end of this game! A very bold prediction was swayed by his affinity for Yale developed as a spoiled, young man whose grandfather, who lived near the Yale Bowl, took him to games played by stars back then such as Calvin Hill and Dick Jauron. However, before the half came to a close, the Tigers gave an indication that they still had some firepower of their own still in store. Within one minute of remaining playing time, Terrell almost got the Tigers back on the scoreboard. A completion all the way to the 24 was called back for a holding penalty. A diving attempt by WR Brian Brigham was just overthrown. On the next play, he completed a pass to Brigham (6 catches for 120 yards) who fell out of bounds at the 27 in FG range with :01 remaining, but was disallowed as the refs ruled time had expired. PU waited for the delayed call as Yale quickly exited to their locker room for the half. The Princeton Student section responded to their dismay with their chants of "Yale sucks!"
During halftime. Yale introduced its 1956 and 1981 Ivy League championship teams. We saw the '81 team beat Navy, 23-19, that year at the Yale Bowl. One familiar name was that of Rich Diana, a RB who GameDay reported ran for 222 yards that year against Princeton. However, according to the article, PU QB Bob Holly had a better day and threw for 501 yards and the game-winning TD with four seconds left to pull a 36-31 upset. GGA Roberts overlooked this fact, but would be witness to a very similar outcome during this beautiful day in New Haven - t-shirts and shorts weather on November 11! Oh, by the way, during halftime, a funny thing was happening in the Princeton locker room. Head Coach Roger Hughes was making some defensive adjustments.
Yale took the opening kick-off of the second half. Lo and behold! They went three and out. P Tom Mante booted his first punt 58 yards. Mante would punt two more times before Princeton took over at the Bulldog 41. Terrell's keeper on fourth and one for nine yards kept the drive alive before he fired a 16-yard TD pass to WR Brendan Circle (12 catches for 178 yards) who beat his defenders into the end zone. Terrell took the extra point snap but tried to run to no avail as Princeton trailed, 28-20.
In the final period, Yale had a third and five at the Princeton 45, but punted to Princeton who took over on their own 19. GGA Roberts decided to hit the Men's Room to possibly get something started for Yale. It was the best call the Elis had in the second half! PU went to the no-huddle, but a tipped pass was intercepted by DE Kyle Hawari. Yale was knocking at the Princeton 21-yard line, but as they had during the entire second half, the Tigers shut down all lanes to the previously unstoppable Bulldog running game. Yale settled for Kimball's 23-yard FG. Yale extended their lead, 31-20, with 10:52 left. Our GGA returned to his seat in section 29, proud to have helped the Bulldog effort. Princeton started its next drive from its thirty-five. Terrell hit WR Adam Berry for a 31-yard pass to the eight of Yale. One play later, Terrell threw to Circle again for six. On a two-point try, Terrell was taken down immediately by DT Kirk Porter. Yale still led, 31-26. On Yale's ensuing drive, DB Tim Strickland broke up his second pass attempt on a third and five to force Yale to punt from the twenty-five. Princeton got the ball on its forty-seven, and one play later, Terrell connected with Brian Brigham streaking down the left sideline for a 57-yard TD pass. A two-point conversion was caught low to the ground and just over the goal line by Brendan Circle to give Princeton the lead, 34-31, with 7:36 left. Yale got as far as the 48 with 4:51 remaining before being forced to punt once again. PU took over from the 15, but Yale had only one time-out left to stop the clock. Princeton sealed the win on third and eight from the 27 when Terrell connected with Circle at the 40. Time expired and the excited Princeton student section charged the field to celebrate with their team! The two teams shook hands. The Tigers ran to our left and jumped in celebration holding their helmets high. Yale players circled to our right with their coaches and took a knee as they were surrounded by parents, fans and friends. It was a classic picture of Ecstasy and Agony! The Princeton band added victory songs to the Tiger celebration. It was an exciting, intense, well-played football game played hard by both squads right until the end.
Princeton awaits Dartmouth and Yale heads to Harvard, now a must-win for the Bulldogs if they want a piece of the Ivy League title, but it won't be easy. The Ivy League played a plethora of close, exhilarating games against one anther all season long. They dominated the Patriot League in non-conference play. Some team from this conference should be allowed to get into the 1AA play-offs, but the powers that be say, "No!" Whatever happens next weekend, it was certainly an exciting, unforgettable season for the Ivy League. CFF enjoyed it immensely!
GGA Roberts laments while CFF prepares to go to Texas to add three new teams to The Goal in two games - Tulsa at SMU (#112) and Florida Atlantic (#113) at North Texas State (#114). We hope that despite the records, these two games will be as hard fought and as exciting as other games we've seen played these last few weekends (Air Force-Army excluded)! Enjoy our site!