Junior quarterback Quinn Epperly evoked a comparison to Keith Elias, which is always a good thing in the world of Princeton football. Epperly rushed for four of Princeton's seven touchdowns in an impressive 50-22 victory over Georgetown Saturday afternoon at Multi-Sport Field in Washington, D.C.
Epperly became the first Tiger to rush for four scores in a game since Elias did so against Holy Cross Oct. 2, 1993, and he helped Princeton reach the 50-point mark for the first time since a 55-28 win over Brown on Oct. 14, 2000.
Most importantly, though, Princeton (1-1) wiped away any bad taste from the season-opening loss to Lehigh and will move into Saturday's Ivy League opener against Columbia (1 pm, ESPN3) with momentum.
Princeton rushed for 326 yards and six touchdowns, and it did so without a single player rushing the ball more than 11 times. One week after DiAndre Atwater rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns against Lehigh, backfield mate Brian Mills rushed for 110 yards, including a 53-yard sprint to the end zone to open a 22-12 lead late in the first quarter.
Epperly had only five rushes, but he made the most of them. His first three went for scores of 1, 1 and 7 yards, but his fourth carry may have been his biggest of the game. On 4th and inches on the Princeton side of the field, Epperly followed his offensive line — which had a dominant performance throughout the day — found an opening on the left side of the line and evaded a late attempt for a 59-yard touchdown.
While the offense was putting forth a dominating ground attack, the defense was making the most of every opportunity, especially over the final three quarters. Princeton held the Hoyas to only three third-down conversions in 16 attempts, and it forced two turnovers on interceptions by Dorian Williams and Jakobi Johnson.
Senior co-captain Phillip Bhaya had a team-best 10 tackles, while junior Garrit Leicht had a career-best eight stops. Classmate Mike Zeuli, coming off an 18-stop game last week, added eight tackles, while sophomore John Hill had seven tackles and two big pass break-ups in the first half.
Princeton led for most of the contest, though Georgetown had a brief 12-8 (yes, that's a football score) on a controversial 14-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Cameron Gamble. The play followed a pass that was ruled to be both caught and then fumbled by Seth DeValve, though nobody on the Princeton sideline seemed to agree.
With its first bit of momentum, the Georgetown defense seemed to force a stop on the ensuing possession. On 4th and 7 at its own 46, head coach Bob Surace called for a fake punt, and freshman Tyler Roth hit an uncovered Will Powers for a 16-yard conversion. Epperly capped the drive with his second 1-yard score, and Princeton would not trail again.
The Tigers also showed a marked improvement over last week in the third quarter; after not scoring against Lehigh and watching a 19-point lead turn into a six-point one, Princeton scored three touchdowns and turned a 14-point lead into a 28-point one.
Junior Connor Michelsen ended the day 19 for 28 for 181 yards and his first touchdown pass of the season, a perfect across-the-field strike to Connor Kelley for a 19-yard score. Both DeValve and senior Roman Wilson caught seven passes apiece, while junior Matt Costello had six catches for a game-high 75 yards.
Princeton will look to continue its winning ways next Saturday when it hosts Columbia on ESPN3. The Tigers have won two straight over the Lions, including a 33-6 win in New York City in the 2012 Ivy League opener.