Junior Quinn Epperly came into the 2013 season as a member of a promising young squad that was looking to break into the Ivy League elite.
He left it having broken Ivy League records while leading Princeton to its 10th Ivy League championship. On Monday, he walked away with the Bushnell Cup as the 2013 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year.
This is the second straight season that Princeton took home one of the league’s top two honors; last season, Mike Catapano, currently a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, took the Defensive Player of the Year honor.
Princeton was the only team with two Bushnell Cup finalists; defensive lineman Caraun Reid, only Princeton’s second player to earn a Senior Bowl invitation, was a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year honor, though Harvard junior Zach Hodges earned that honor.
Epperly became the third quarterback in program history to win the Player of the Year honor. Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett won the award in 1998, while Jeff Terrell earned the award after leading Princeton to its most recent Ivy title in 2006.
In many ways, Epperly reminded the Princeton fan base of Terrell. Both were left-handed, both wore the number 4, and both rallied Princeton to multiple heart-stopping comeback wins en route to the Ivy League championship.
Epperly matched the Princeton single-season passing touchdown record of Doug Butler ’86 (25, 1983), and he came within one of matching the single-season rushing touchdown record of Keith Elias ’94 (19, 1994). He missed the single-season completion percentage record by the slimmest of margins; his 68.0% finished second to Jason Garrett ’89 (68.2%, 1988).
He set an NCAA record with 29 straight completions in Princeton’s 53-20 victory over Cornell; that followed Princeton’s 51-48 triple-overtime win at Harvard, when Epperly set Princeton single-game records for both completions (37) and passing touchdowns (six). He set an Ivy League record by earning the Offensive Player of the Week honor six times, including five in a row; all six of his honors followed Princeton’s six Ivy League victories.
He ended the season ranked first nationally in points responsible per game (26.6), sixth in both completion percentage and scoring, and seventh in rushing touchdowns. Epperly is the only player in Ivy League history to account for more than 40 touchdowns in a single season; he had 43 during the Ivy championship performance.
His comeback wins during the Ivy season included a 17-point comeback at Brown, a 16-point comeback at Penn and a pair of comebacks in overtime during the 51-48 victory at Harvard.
Epperly is the eighth Princeton player to be bestowed with the Bushnell Cup, following Walt Snickenberger (1974), Jason Garrett (1988), Judd Garrett (1989), Keith Elias (1993), Dave Patterson (1995), Jeff Terrell (2006) and Catapano (2012).
While Reid didn't complete the Princeton sweep, he did complete his brilliant career with the program's 10th Ivy title.
A returning All-America and 2014 Senior Bowl invitee, Reid led the league in sacks in Ivy games (5.5), and he finished second to teammate Jason Ray in tackles for loss in Ivy games (9.0). A three-time first-team All-Ivy League honoree, Reid overcame double- and triple-teams all season to become one of the league’s most disruptive forces on the line.
He had a team-best five quarterback hurries, and he recorded his first career interception in the victory over Cornell. Reid had at least one tackle for loss in seven of the team’s final nine games, and he helped Princeton rank among the Ivy’s top two in both total defense and rushing defense.
He ended his career in brilliant fashion, recording four tackles for loss and three sacks in the season finale at Dartmouth. He is the fourth player in Princeton history to be named to the All-Ivy first team three times, and the first since Matt Evans (1996-98).