Courtesy: Beverly Schaefer R.C. Lagomarsino rushed for a 29-yard touchdown in the loss to Harvard.
The top two Princeton quarterbacks spent much of the second half injured. Harvard’s starting quarterback spent much of the second half piling on passing yardage during a career day. Chris Pizzotti threw for 365 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Crimson to a 27-10 home win in the 100th meeting between Princeton and Harvard.
Princeton, which didn’t score in the second half after rallying from a 10-0 deficit, was outgained 478-222 in the contest. Starting quarterback Bill Foran and backup Greg Mroz both left with injuries during the game, forcing third-string junior Brian Anderson into a tough situation during the second half.
Junior R.C. Lagomarsino, who led Princeton in rushing with 40 yards, scored the Tigers’ only touchdown of the game on a 29-yard option run in the second quarter.
The defense was led by Joel Karacozoff, who had a career day following injuries to Tom Methvin and Aaron Carter. The sophomore had four tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and recorded a sack, a fumble recovery, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry. Kevin Kelleher recorded eight tackles, including five solo stops, while Doori Song added seven tackles.
Princeton is now 2-4, 1-2 in the Ivy League. The Tigers are two games behind both 3-0 teams in the league, Harvard and Yale. The nationally-ranked Bulldogs won a triple overtime thriller at Penn 26-20.
Harvard opened the scoring on its first drive, when Pizzotti escaped the pocket, rolled right and allowed Corey Mazza time to get a step on Cart Kelly. Mazza ran a double-move, moving to the sideline and then breaking down the right sideline to the end zone. Pizzotti lofted a pass just over the outstretched arm of Kelly, and Mazza pulled it in for a 41-yard touchdown.
Princeton was stopped on its first two possessions, and Pizzotti took the Crimson back on the offensive midway through the quarter. He gained big yards by scrambling away from a rush and hitting Mike Cook on a crossing pass, then he caught a break when a deep out intended for Matt Luft was deflected by Dan Kopolovich and caught by Crimson teammate Jason Miller. A third-down conversion by Cheng Ho moved Harvard to the 14-yard-line. A third-down tackle by Tim Boardman sent Patrick Long in for a 23-yard field goal, which he converted for a 10-0 Crimson lead with 3:06 remaining in the quarter.
A series of misdirections got the Princeton offense on the move late in the first quarter. Following a 10-yard keeper by Foran, the Tigers ran end arounds with both Adam Berry and Will Thanheiser to get into Harvard territory. Consecutive option runs by Toresco moved the ball to the Harvard 31-yard-line. A sack set up third-and-15, and Toresco got seven of those yards on a screen pass. Foran and Berry connected on an 11-yard pass to convert the fourth down, and Connor Louden connected on a 34-yard field goal to cut the deficit to seven points with 12:18 left in the half.
An inspired Princeton defense allowed only one yard on Harvard’s ensuing drive, and a roughing the passer call against the Crimson’s Brad Bagdis gave Princeton good field position. Foran moved the ball into Harvard territory by keeping on consecutive options, but suffered an injury on the drive. Greg Mroz came in with a short pass to Toresco and a third-down conversion run. Lagomarsino made his return to the field after suffering a concussion in the Hampton game and made his second touch count, taking an option from Mroz 29 yards down the left sideline. He received two big blocks on the play; the first came from Toresco and the second came from Berry, who drove a Harvard defender back 10 yards to leave an open path for Lagomarsino.
A 53-yard screen pass to Ho opened Harvard’s next drive, but Princeton kept Harvard from picking up a first down in the red zone, and Long pulled a 31-yard attempt to keep the game even at 10. The Crimson would manage a 28-yard field goal later in the quarter to hold a 13-10 lead at halftime. The kick came after another long pass from Pizzotti, this time a 59-yarder to Miller.
Princeton’s first possession of the second half was thwarted by a pair of dropped passes, and the Crimson returned the first punt to the Tiger 41-yard-line. A crossing pass to Matt Lagace brought the ball to the 3-yard-line, and Ho went in from two yards out to bring the lead to 20-10 with 12:36 left in the third quarter.
Princeton was stopped on its next drive, but a booming 55-yard punt by Ryan Coyle, who averaged 46.3 yards per punt in the first half, pinned Harvard inside its own 10-yard-line. Needing a stop to finally gain an edge in field position, Karacozoff made a stop on 3rd-and-1 to force a punt. Thomas Hull got off his best kick of the day, but the Tigers still had decent position at the 34-yard-line. Unfortunately, the Princeton offense could do nothing with it, as a hurried Mroz was picked off by Steven Williams as the Harvard 40-yard-line.
The game remained 20-10 into the fourth quarter, which began with a brilliant fourth-down conversion catch by Harvard’s Mazza. Karacozoff came up with a sack on the next play, which knocked out the Crimson out of field goal range. Karacozoff added a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage, and Harvard was forced to punt, which bounced into the end zone.
Junior quarterback Brian Anderson made his debut on the next drive after Mroz was injured on an earlier option run, and he carried the ball two straight times for 11 yards. His screen pass on second down was caught by Lagomarsino, but he was stripped from behind. The ball was recovered by Andrew Berry on the Princeton 31-yard-line. Gino Gordon broke a big run to the 4-yard-line, but he was stripped by Dan Kopolovich on the 2-yard-line two plays later, and Karacozoff continued his strong second half with a recovery.
The Crimson defense forced a 3-and-out, and its offense put the game away several plays later. Ho ran the ball inside the Princeton 10-yard-line, and following a penalty, Pizzotti connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Long.
Princeton returns home for a Friday night showdown against Cornell on Oct. 26. The game, which will begin at 7 p.m., will be shown live on ESPNU. The Big Red was the only team to defeat Princeton last year, and the home team has won each of the last four meetings between the two schools.