Offensive Struggles Doom Football In 14-0 Loss At Yale
The Princeton football team didn't complete a pass for more than eight yards, committed four turnovers and couldn't force any against a Yale squad that remained in the Ivy League championship race with a 14-0 victory over the Tigers on a dreary day at The Yale Bowl.
Princeton fell to 3-6, 2-4 in the league with the loss and will look to end its season with some positive momentum next weekend when it hosts Dartmouth Saturday at 1 p.m. on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.
Yale carried the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense into the game and limited the Princeton offense to only 153 total offensive yards, including 57 through the air. Senior quarterback Brian Anderson completed 9 of 21 passes for 52 yards and was intercepted three times, while backup Tommy Wornham completed one pass for five yards while leading one drive late in the second quarter.
The defense, which didn’t allow a touchdown drive of more than 24 yards, was led by junior Wilson Cates (nine tackles) and senior Steve Cody (seven solo tackles). Princeton also managed four sacks against Yale quarterback Brook Hart, including the fourth of the season for Brad Stetler. Princeton kept Yale off the scoreboard on eight of its 10 drives, but it couldn’t force a turnover to flip the battle of field position.
Princeton junior Jordan Culbreath, the Ivy League leader in rushing, gained 69 yards in 16 carries. This day, however, belonged to two-time league rushing champion Mike McLeod, who paced the Yale offense with 31 carries for 138 yards.
Trouble started early for Princeton, which suffered its first turnover of the day on its second play from scrimmage. Running an option play that has worked so well for Princeton all season, Anderson’s pitch never connected with Culbreath. Whether it was a slick field, a slick ball or just missed communication, the ball was recovered by Larry Abare on the Princeton 24.
An 11-yard sack by Princeton sophomore Matt Boyer threatened to halt the Yale momentum, but McLeod and company had another answer. On second and goal from the 17, McLeod ran for 12 yards; one play later, Hart hit Jordan Folney on a well-blocked wideout screen for a touchdown 3:35 into the game.
Three of Princeton’s next four drives would fail to produce a first down, and the fourth put the defense in another bad spot. On third and four from the Princeton 37, Anderson did a terrific job breaking free from a rush and looked for his top receiver, Will Thanheiser. Unfortunately, the chemistry that has been there all season was missing on the play, and when Thanheiser started going down the field, Anderson threw it short. The pass was intercepted by All-Ivy linebacker Bobby Abare, and three plays later, Hart and Folney connected on a 12-yard score.
Wornham took the last drive of the quarter for Princeton and moved the Tigers 35 yards on 13 plays, but his fourth-down pass at the Yale 34 would fall incomplete. The second half would be more of the same, as Princeton had only five possessions and got past midfield once.
Princeton will conclude its 2008 season against Dartmouth, a team it has beaten four straight times. The game can be heard live on WPRB 103.3 FM or on GoPrincetonTigers.com.