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Princeton Overcomes Penn in 2 OTs, 31-30,
to stay in contention for Ivy title
Princeton, NJ - Definition of a rival - "1. A person (or persons) who attempts to equal or surpass another, or who pursues the same object as another ; competitor. 2. One that equals or almost equals another in some respect." In other words, what Army is to Air Force as witnessed on Friday night (Air Force 43 - Army 7) is not what the University of Pennsylvania is compared to Princeton (losers in 2 OTs, 31-30) as we saw the very next afternoon. The two Ivy league teams put on a display of effort, thrills, and excitement to both stay in contention for whatever piece of Ivy League glory was left for them with only three games left in their 10-game seasons. Penn (4-4,2-3) tied the score 24-24 with :37 left in regulation time to force overtime. A botched snap and a blocked FG kept the score intact after the first period. An innovative, broken play and extra point overcame a long TD pass and another botched snap to make the difference in the end, 31-30, as the Princeton Tigers ran their record to 7-1 overall, 4-1 in the Ivy League. The "broken play" became ESPN Gameday's #1 Play of the Week. And we were there right in the end zone to see it! The Tigers now trail Yale (7-1,5-0) in the Ivy league race by one game and will travel to New Haven next week to try to tie the Bulldogs for first place in the Ivy. CFF will make the trip to see what should turn out to be another close Ivy League thriller! This last one literally kept us on the edge of our seats not only in terms of excitement, but in terms of getting our Guest Game Analyst, Eric Koreivo, off the his 6:45 pm pre-game warm-up for his Super Pee-Wee football game. If the Quakers and Tigers were going to tussle beyond the second period, we were on our way any way. If these teams had gone on longer for some record-setting OT game , we would have missed it. Though we were glad we saw closure to the game, we were disappointed and felt somewhat sorry that the game had to end on a misplay rather than on another outstanding effort as those we witnessed throughout the game.
Our GGA's head was into the game right form the beginning as he saw Princeton's Mr. Everything, Bill Foran, run sweeps from the WR position twice in what Eric called "Jet sweep right", learned on the practice field of Super Pee Wee. Foran (6 carries- 84 yards) made two big gains on that call on this series to eventually set up a 25-yd TD pass from QB David Terrell to Brendan Circle for Princeton's initial score. Terrell (21 of 36 for 227 yards and 3 TDs) rolled right and reversed left when the left-hander fired to Circle at the 5 yard line to take it in for six. Connor Louden booted the PAT for the 7-0 Tiger lead. The Quakers mounted a drive of their own on the next series as the Tigers broke up a pass in the end zone and a Quaker TE dropped another attempt in the end zone before PK Peter Stine's 23-yard FG attempt bounced off the right upright keeping the score the same. Princeton's next drive ended on an incomplete pass on a fourth and ten at the Quaker 29 as both schools indicated that they had no faith in their kickers' abilities to hit on anything longer than about 35 yards away. The first quarter ended with Penn knocking on Princeton's door at the 20-yard line.
A screen pass to RB Joe Sandberg (23 carries for 176 yards) brought the Quakers to the PU one. FB Nick Cisler fought hard for that one additional yard to bring it across for the Quakers first score of the day. Stine put up the extra point, but on the play, he was roughed by the ubiquitous Mr. Foran. The point was good, but Stine lay motionless on the field for several minutes before he was moved to the sideline. A neck brace was eventually put on him and he was placed on a hard stretcher with his head securely fastened to it. He raise his arm to the cheering Penn students as he was wheeled out of Princeton Stadium right in front of them. Stine's name is not even on the roster. Over the past three years, we've seen Derek Zoch kick for the Quakers, but he was not even on the the sideline today. The roughing call got the Quakers a little more fired up on their sideline. A sack forced the Tigers to punt from their own 15 on the next series. QB Rob Irvin (22 of 43 for 365 yards, 2 TDs) made his only miscue of the day as DB Kevin Kelleher picked off his overthrown pass to get Princeton re-started from their own 15-yard line. The play was big as the Tigers were able to convert it into and 85-yard scoring drive. TE Jake Staser turned his man around in coverage to catch a nine-yard TD pass on the left side to stake the Tigers a 14-7 lead with Louden's conversion. A note on the next kick-off, the tackle was made by none other than Mr. Foran who is also the second team QB for the Tigers. We expect to see him starting back there next year. But for now, David Terrell handles the position quite adequately. Taking over after Penn's punt from his own 21, Terrell engineered a drive which included six pass completions to the Penn five in 2:01. With :02 remaining before the half, Louden booted a 22-yarder to extend the Tigers lead, 17-7.
CFF made a good move before the game began. We sat at our assigned seats in section 24 on the Penn side though our allegiance was especially with Princeton on this day. GGA Eric was a little miffed because he intentionally wore orange to support the Tigers. We had learned at the Harvard game that the home side gets much more cooler in the shade as the game would progress, so we purchased seats to be on the sunny side. Rather than sit among die-hard Penn people, we moved to the upper deck which was more sparsely populated when the game began. As the game progressed, we saw more and more Tiger fans joining us in the upper deck. At the half we moved to the very top row where one can lean against the mesh fence for better lumbar support. The smaller stadiums still provide a great view at that level as well. By the time the second half had begun, many Tiger fans had come over to "the other side". We don't know if it's for this reason, or if it was because our last game at Princeton Stadium was against Harvard, but the home stands seemed much fuller that game, especially in the student section. If the reason is the latter, we expect to see the visitor's side well attended at the Yale Bowl when we go there next week. We believe that there's still a little more enthusiasm in the air when the Tigers play Harvard or Yale. We're not sure if students may have lost interest after the Tiger's 14-7 loss to Cornell last week. If so, shame on them. They have a good team, and they missed a great game. To Penn's credit, there were a few dozen school buses that came loaded with Penn students who packed the stands and supported their Quakers. The OT would be played right in front of them which lended great spirit to the game. And for what it's worth, the Penn female cheerleaders are the prettiest we've seen at an Ivy League game in a long time. They gave the Penn student section another good reason to be at the game. Both Ivy League bands performed their narrated halftime programs demeaning the other school and alluding to political irony of the day, but with a twist. The Princeton Tiger band was joined on the field by the University of Virginia Pep Band. Not sure why, but they were either here or in the area for some other athletic event, or they were enjoying a weekend of playing Ivy League wannabes. With their orange vests over blue shirts, they blended in well.
On Penn's first possession of Q3, RB Joe Sandberg reeled off a 52-yard run to the Tiger 20. He got them as close at the Princeton one, but a holding penalty nullified it back to the 19. WR Braden Lepisto (6 receptions for 62 yards) stepped in for the injured Stine and booted a FG from 38 yards to cut the Tiger lead, 17-10. After an exchange of punts where Tiger P Colin McDonough placed Penn back at their two, the Tigers took over in Penn territory at the 42. A combination of Rob Toresco runs (19 carries, 62 yards) and three completions from Terrell to Circle put the Tigers on the Penn five as the third period expired.
On the first play of the last quarter, Terrell connected with Circle in the end zone for a 5-yard scoring play to go out to a 24-10 Princeton lead. As the definition states, a rival is one "who attempts to equal or surpass another." The Quakers picture is next to the definition in the Princeton Dictionary. In Air Force's Dictionary, it says "see Navy, not Army". Starting after the ensuing kickoff from the 32, Penn drove to the PU 23. On third and eighteen, DB Tim Strickland broke up a pass to force Penn to go the same distance on fourth down. Irvin came up big as he threw a strike to WR Matt Carre (5 catches for 114 yards, 2 TDs) who made a diving catch at the one-yard line! Irvin snuck it in from there and Lepisto's extra point closed the gap to 24-17 with 11:07 left. Princeton punted after its next series at the Penn 37. McDonough's punt was downed at the four by none other than Mr. Everything, Bill Foran. Penn got out of the hole out to the 38. A screen pass to Sandberg got the ball deep into PU territory before he coughed it up to Princeton at the 36. Sandberg held his shoulder as he came off the field. The Penn defense held Princeton to three plays to force a punt, however, and Greg Ambrogi returned it 24 yards to his own 37. With 2:31 remaining, the Quakers took over with no time-outs left. With 1:04 remaining and forced into a fourth and twenty-four from their own 43, Penn caught quite a break in our opinion as PRINCETON called time-out! Both teams seemed in disarray at the time, so why Princeton Coach Roger Hughes gave the Quakers the opportunity for Penn Coach Al Bagnoli to have time to call a play did not make sense to us, and it paid off. Irvin heaved a high pass as he was slammed, and WR Billy May came up with the catch at the Princeton 28 for a first down. Irvin spiked the ball to stop the clock. He completed his next pass for a first down to Dan Coleman at the 16. With :39 left in the game, he connected again with a diving Matt Carre for a 16-yard TD pass. Lepsito tied it. Princeton tried to get something started on one play, and then decided instead to run out the clock and go into overtime with the score knotted, 24-24. For Penn, this was the third week in a row that they would play beyond regulation! On consecutive weekends, they fell at Yale, 17-14, and at home to Brown, 30-27.
Princeton picked defense and Penn elected to play in front of their student section in the OT. Penn ran to the 11 on the first play. S Brig Walker missed an INT. Penn got to the two where it set up for a FG. However, Matt Reinart muffed the snap and pitched the ball to Lepisto for a 10-yard loss. Penn came away with no points. On its possession, Princeton picked up a first down at the 15 on a run by Robbie Toresco. The Tigers kept the ball in the middle of the field to cut the angle for PK Louden. Louden kicked it without much height, however, and the Penn defense knocked it down. The score remained knotted. Princeton started on offense in the second OT. A holding call put the Tigers back on its own 32, but Terrell came up with a 32 yard pass to Brian Brigham to the Penn 3-yard line. Toresco was stopped at the one on the next two plays. Terrell was stopped on a third down attempt to sneak it in. Then came the play of the Week! Toresco slammed into the line again, drove his legs, turned, and as he turned, he spotted Terrell standing alone several yards back. He tossed it back, and Terrell swept untouched around right end for a one-yard scoring play. Penn protested that Toresco's forward progress had stopped, but they fell on the officials' deaf ears. Louden's conversion put the Tigers ahead, 31-24. Penn's turn! With one 25-yard pass, Irvin threw a TD strike to Carre once again. Penn came in for the "automatic" conversion, but Reinart mishandled a low snap again, and tried to get it around left end before he was stopped at the two. Penn fans were stunned and peeved to say the least. The Princetonians were ecstatic. We had mixed emotions - glad Princeton won to set up another great game next week, happy we got to see the conclusion of the game, happy we were on our way to get Eric to his game on time, and yet disappointed that it had to end on a mistake rather than some outstanding play, even a blocked PAT would have made the win more deserving. In the end, we can say that what we saw was pure rivalry. Though probably a secondary one as far as Princeton's fans are concerned, both teams played their hearts out. Army should have watched to get a lesson in how a rivalry should be played. Air Force might not be Navy, but they should have been challenged as a rival none-the-less.
Princeton heads to New Haven to play Yale as we mentioned. A win against Yale and then Dartmouth, will assure them of a share of the Ivy League title. Yale can take it all if they beat PU and then win at archrival Harvard in The Game. The Elis have a tough task ahead of them. Princeton defeated Harvard 31-28 two weeks ago. We figure the rest of the Ivy league slate will be just as exciting!
Extra Points: In post game notes on Penn's website, we found out that Peter Stine was added to the roster this week from Penn's Sprint (Lightweight) football team. We'll check on his progress and report it in Salvos when we find out. Head Coach Al Bagnoli seemed to demand a stronger penalty against Foran than the 15-yard penalty for roughing. We didn't actually see the hit, but it seemed like he wanted him tossed from the game.
An older Alum in a red jacket and red hat with a pom-pom on top added to some of the spirit leading the Penn student section in cheers with a megaphone during the game. With football at 4-4, we guess the Penn students will be fired up for basketball soon.
The Penn students carried on their time-honored tradition at the end of Q3 to sing "A Toast to Penn" and then tossing pieces of toast out on to the field. Security surrounded them only to watch. There were a lot of bread crumbs on the field after the game.
We met a family from Tennessee who sat with us in the sun during the second half. The son, Malcolm Crowder, is being recruited by most of the Ivy League. He's rated as one of the top centers in the country and is narrowing down his choices with Princeton and Penn among them. His Dad Mike has enjoyed traveling around to see the various campuses including Dartmouth and Harvard. He loved the setting at Dartmouth. We plan to see games at all the Ivy League campuses eventually. These two and Cornell are the only ones we haven't been to. Maybe when we go, we'll see Malcolm play. The best question Mike asked, "Is that Princeton's real band?" They are definitely different than what most people envision as a marching band, especially in the football-crazy South.
Speaking of visiting other Ivy League campuses, we checked our records and the last time we saw a game at the Yale Bowl was in 1985 when Harvard came to town on November 23 that year and won 17-6. We look forward to going back after all these years. In addition to Harvard, we saw Yale host UConn and Navy there.