Princeton Football Throughtout The Years
Rutgers defeats Princeton six goals to four Nov. 6 in the first college football game ever played. The original Princeton 25 takes the field with William Stryker Gummere ’70 as Princeton’s first football captain, and Jacob Edwin Michael ’71 scores Princeton’s first goal. Princeton wins the return match eight goals to zero the following week. The members of this team were the founding members of the Princeton College Football Association.
Princeton beats Yale three goals to zero in the first game of the second-oldest rivalry in college football history.
Princeton wears its colors for the first time, showing up for a game in Hoboken, N.J., against Yale with black shirts with an orange P on the chest.
Orange stripes are added to the black shirts. This, along with a newspaper account that credits the Princeton 11 with “playing like Tigers,” gives rise to the University’s athletic team nickname.
James Hexall ’83 placekicks a field goal 65 yards in a loss to Yale.
Knowlton “Snake” Ames ’90 finishes his career with 62 rushing touchdowns, which remains the Princeton record (though only records set since the NCAA began keeping official records in 1937 count). First consensus All-Americas are named, including Princeton’s Hector Cowan ’88, William George ’92, Edgar Allan Poe ’91, Roscoe Channing ’90 and Ames.
Princeton completes an 11-0 season with a 6-0 win against Yale in front of 40,000 in New York City. The win ends Yale’s 37-game winning streak. Three-time consensus All-America Phil King ’93 leads Princeton to the national championship. He would later head the Princeton Football Association and coach for the Tigers.
Three-time consensus All-America Langdon “Biff” Lea ’96 becomes Princeton’s first official head coach. He had earlier been the head coach at Michigan.
Two-time consensus All-America A.R.T. “Doc” Hillebrand begins a three-year coaching stint and finishes with 27-4-0 career record and a .871 winning percentage. His team, which was captained by consensus All-America John DeWitt ’04, won the national championship in 1903. Ralph Davis ’04 blocks a punt that DeWitt returns 75 yards for a touchdown during the Yale game. Princeton allows only six points during the season.
President Theodore Roosevelt calls upon representatives of college football to make the game safer. Princeton is represented by John Fine ’82 at the meetings that follow. Rules legalizing the forward pass and requiring teams to gain 10 yards in three downs are enacted. Cap Wister ’08 catches the first touchdown pass in Princeton history on a throw by captain Eddie Dillon ’07; both earn consensus All-America honors. Princeton goes undefeated and wins the national title.
Princeton, under consensus All-Americas captain Eddie Hart ’12 and acting captain Sunford White ’12, is the undefeated national champion.
The rules are further amended. Teams now have four downs to gain 10 yards, receive six points instead of five for a touchdown and play on a field 100 yards long instead of 110.
Hobey Baker ’14 captains the Tigers.
Palmer Stadium opens. Princeton defeats Dartmouth 16-12 Oct. 24 in the first game.
Henry Callahan ’21 captains an undefeated team to the national championship. Princeton is led by consensus All-Americas Stan Keck ’22 and Don Lourie ’21.
Princeton defeats Chicago (coached by Amos Alonzo Stagg) 21-18, rallying from an 18-7 deficit in the fourth quarter and holding the Maroons four times near the goal line in the final seconds. The game is the first football game ever broadcast on radio. The Tigers’ “Team of Destiny” finishes a perfect season with a 3-0 win at Palmer Stadium over Yale for the national championship. The team is led by captain Mel Dickenson ’23, consensus All-America Herb Treat ’23 and the legendary Pink Baker ’22.
Princeton loses 12-0 to a Notre Dame team that features the legendary Four Horsemen.
Princeton defeats Harvard 12-0 in a game so rough and with such ill-feeling that the schools temporarily end all athletic contests between them. The schools do not play each other in football for the next eight years.
William W. Roper ’02 retires with a career record (17 seasons) of 89-28-16, for a winning percentage of .729, and four national championships. He still holds the Princeton record for most wins in a career. In 1951 Roper will become the first Princeton coach to be inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame.
Princeton Football Association president Thomas A. Wilson ’13 heads a search committee that hires Herbert Orin “Fritz” Crisler h22 as head coach, the first non-Princeton grad to hold that position. Hall of Fame coach Crisler introduces many innovations including the winged Tiger helmet, which he later takes with him to Michigan. Crisler goes 35-9-5 in his six seasons at Princeton, and his .765 winning percentage is the best of any Princeton coach with five or more seasons.
Art Lane ’34 captains the Princeton 11 to an undefeated, untied season and the national championship. One of the best defensive teams in Princeton football history, the Tigers allow only eight points. Jack Bales ’34 is one of the mainstays on the team as a fleet halfback.
Pepper Constable ’36 captains Crisler’s second undefeated Tiger team to a national championship. A man jumps from the stands to join the Dartmouth line in the fourth quarter of what becomes a 26-6 Princeton win in a game between unbeatens played in a driving snowstorm at Palmer. The game becomes known as the “Snow Game.”
The Williams game features four of Princeton’s future Hall of Fame coaches: Crisler and line coach Elton Ewart “Tad” Wieman for Princeton and head coach Charles W. Caldwell Jr. ’25 and player Richard W. Colman h37 for Williams.
Ken Fairman ’34, football and basketball star, is named Princeton’s first director of athletics, a post he retains until 1972.
Due to the war Princeton plays just three games, beating Muhlenberg and losing to Swarthmore and the Atlantic City Naval Air Station.
Charles Caldwell ’25, a three-sport star at Princeton who also pitched in the major leagues, begins his 12 seasons as Princeton coach. Caldwell would go 70-30-3 with one national championship and be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1961.
George Chandler ’51 captains Princeton to an undefeated season and the Lambert Trophy as the top team in the East. Princeton is led by All-Americas Hollie Donan ’51, Reddy Finney ’51 and Dick Kazmaier ’52; Caldwell is national coach of the year.
Dick Kazmaier ’52 wins the Heisman Trophy and is the first to do it by more than 1,000 votes. Princeton repeats its undefeated season and is awarded the Lambert Cup. See page 144 for more details on Kazmaier’s historic Heisman Trophy victory.
In the final year before official round-robin Ivy League play, Princeton goes 6-1 against league competition to earn the unofficial title.
Official round-robin Ivy League play begins, two years after the league presidents formalized an agreement. Among other items, spring practice and postseason games are banned.
Dick Colman replaces Caldwell as Prince-ton’s coach and guides the Tigers to their first Ivy championship. Colman will coach 12 seasons at Princeton, and his 75 wins put him in second place for career wins.
Cosmo Iacavazzi ’65 leads Princeton to a perfect 9-0 season that ends with a 17-12 win against Cornell. Iacavazzi runs for 909 yards and 14 touchdowns, then school records.
Charlie Gogolak ’66, who changed the kicking game by instituting the soccer-style of placekicking, kicks a school-record 54-yard field goal against Cornell.
J. L. “Jake” McCandless ’51 takes over for Colman and coaches Princeton to a share of the Ivy title during Princeton’s centennial year of football. Ellis Moore ’70 rushes for five touchdowns against Harvard for individual records in scoring, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns in a game. Princeton Football Association president George Chandler launches the Tiger’s Lair as a way to communicate with alumni about Princeton football. The Tiger’s Lair still exists to this day.
Hank Bjorklund ’72 becomes the first Princeton player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season, finishing with 1,081 yards.
Former All-Ivy player and Princeton assistant coach Robert F. Casciola ’58 is named head coach.
Walt Snickenberger ’75 becomes the first Princeton player to win the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Player of the Year. He rushes for 1,041 yards.
Bob Holly ’82, who would later win a Super Bowl ring with the Redskins, throws for an Ivy League record 501 yards against Yale, completing 36 of 57 passes. He also throws four touchdown passes and runs for the winning score on the final play as Princeton defeats Yale 35-31. It is the Tigers’ first win over Yale in 14 years and is considered the Game of the Century for Princeton.
Doug Butler ’86 and Derek Graham ’85 combine on a 95-yard touchdown pass against Penn for what was then the longest play from scrimmage in Princeton history. Kevin Guthrie ’84 catches a Princeton-record 88 passes for the season, while Graham catches 84.
Steve Tosches replaces Ron Rogerson as head coach after the sudden death of Rogerson just prior to the season. Dean Cain ’88, who would later go on to fame as an actor, sets an NCAA Division I-AA record with 12 interceptions.
Quarterback Jason Garrett ’89, who would go on to earn two Super Bowl rings with the Dallas Cowboys and is currently employed as the team’s head coach, wins the Bushnell Cup.
Judd Garrett ’90 leads Princeton to a share of the Ivy title and joins his brother Jason as a Bushnell Cup winner. Garrett rushes for a then Princeton record 1,347 yards.
Michael Lerch ’93 sets the Division I-AA records for receiving yards in a game and all-purpose yards in a game in a 59-37 win at Brown. Lerch catches nine passes for 370 yards, including touchdown receptions of 64, 79, 90 and 45 yards, and finishes with 463 all-purpose yards. Chad Roghair ’92 completes 13 of 22 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns.
Keith Elias ’94 breaks the school record with 1,575 rushing yards as Princeton earns a share of the Ivy crown. Elias earns All-America honors.
Keith Elias ’94 ends his career with 21 Princeton records and four Division I-AA records with his second straight All-America season. Elias rushes for a Tiger record 1,731 yards and wins the Bushnell Cup. Spring practice is reinstated in the Ivy League and freshmen become eligible for the varsity.
Brock Harvey ’96 makes a spectacular run out of bounds on the one-foot line to set up Alex Sierk ’99’s 18-yard field goal against Dartmouth on the final play of the season, giving Princeton its first outright Ivy League championship in 31 years. Linebacker David Patterson ’96 becomes the sixth Princeton player and the fourth defensive player in league history to win the Bushnell Cup.
Palmer Stadium closes after 83 years following the season. Demolition begins in March 1997.
Princeton plays all of its games on the road waiting for the new Princeton Stadium to be completed.
Princeton defeats Cornell 6-0 in the first game at Princeton Stadium.
Roger Hughes is named the 21st coach in the program’s history. Dennis Norman ’01 (drafted by the Seahawks), Ross Tucker ’01 (Redskins free agent) and John Raveche ’01 (Browns free agent) go the NFL.
Cosmo Iacavazzi ’65 is elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Matt Verbit ’05 completes an Ivy and NCAA record 99-yard touchdown pass to Clinton Wu in a 34-14 victory at Brown.
Jay McCareins ’06 becomes Princeton’s first defensive first-team All-America selection after leading the nation in interceptions. His 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown provides the game-winning margin to end a nine-year losing streak to Harvard, and his interception against Penn helps break a similar skid against the Quakers. Four Tiger players sign NFL contracts after the season. FieldTurf is added to Princeton Stadium.
Despite being picked sixth in the preseason media poll, Princeton wins the Ivy League championship and finishes with its best record (9-1) since 1964. The Tigers rally from a trio of 14-point deficits and defeat Yale 34-31 to clinch Princeton’s first H-Y-P bonfire since 1994. Princeton becomes the first team in Ivy League history to improve its record by at least two games three straight seasons. Jeff Terrell becomes the second Princeton quarterback to win the Bushnell Cup. The Tigers defeat Penn 31-30 in double overtime with a touchdown voted as SportsCenter’s No. 1 pick in “Top Plays.” Alumnus William Powers ’79 gives more than $10 million to the football program.
Former All-Ivy center Bob Surace '90 leaves an eight-year tenure on the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff and is named the 22nd head coach of football at Princeton.
Princeton has its biggest turnaround in more than two decades, winning four more games than the previous season and staying in the Ivy race until the final day. Princeton wins its 25th "Big Three" title by scoring 29 unanswered points to end wins of 39-34 over Harvard (in the final 12 minutes) and 29-7 over Yale. Mike Catapano wins Princeton's seventh Bushnell Cup and is drafted in the seventh round by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Princeton breaks both the team and Ivy League records for both total (511.6 yds/gm) and scoring offense (43.7 pts/gm) en route to an 8-2 mark and its 10th Ivy League championship. Quinn Epperly earns the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year and finishes 10th nationally in the Walter Payton Award voting. Caraun Reid is a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year and is Princeton's highest draft pick (5th round, Detroit) in the modern era. Princeton earns a second straight bonfire with wins over Harvard and Yale; the win over Harvard was a 51-48 triple-overtime thriller. Epperly threw six touchdowns, a Princeton record, in the win over Harvard, and completed an NCAA record 29 straight passes to open the following victory over Cornell.