Lehigh Wins 35-22 Offensive Shootout In Football Season Opener
Despite gaining 528 total offensive yards, including 392 in the air, the Princeton football team fell to Lehigh 35-22 in its 2010 season opener. Penalties, turnovers and missed opportunities plagued a squad that fought hard in the debut for head coach Bob Surace '90.
Princeton, displaying its new no-huddle offense, gained 201 more total yards than Lehigh, but it managed only one trip to the end zone. Mountain Hawk tight end Alex Wojdowski scored twice on his own and set up a third score to help Lehigh improve to 2-1 on the young season. Princeton fell to 0-1, though it will play four of its next five games at home.
To add injury to insult, Princeton will spend the rest of the weekend dealing with injuries. Senior All-America linebacker Steven Cody went down with a leg injury late in the game, while offensive players Mike Muha (center) and Jeb Heavenrich (wide receiver) were both lost in the first half. Surace told the media that he didn't know the extent of any injuries and should have an update early in the week.
Junior quarterback Tommy Wornham completed 32 of 51 passes for 392 yards and a touchdown, and he added seven rushes for 17 yards. Senior Trey Peacock caught eight balls for 196 yards and a touchdown; his 196 receiving yards ranks eighth-best all-time at Princeton, and the most since 1991. Classmate Andrew Kerr caught a career-high 11 passes for 125 yards.
Making his triumphant return to the field was senior running back Jordan Culbreath, who learned of his aplastic anemia diagnosis days after a 2009 game at Lehigh. Culbreath started and gained 56 yards on nine carries, a team-best 6.2-yard average.
Cody led the defense with 12 tackles before his injury, while sophomore Andrew Starks added six tackles and a forced fumble. Sophomore Matt Landry recorded four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, while junior Blake Clemons had his second career interception.
Kicker Patrick Jacob had an impressive career debut, making five of six field goals, including one from 43 yards. It was the most field goals for a Princeton kicker since Derek Javarone kicked five in a 2003 win over Columbia.
Lehigh got on the scoreboard first, as quarterback Chris Lum scored on a 2-yard keeper midway through the first quarter. The Mountain Hawk defense, which kept Princeton from a first down on either of its first two drives, got its offense the ball at midfield. An over-the-shoulder catch by Wojdowski got the ball to the 2, and Lum did the rest.
The offense found some rhythm on its ensuing drive and got the ball to midfield, and punter Joe Cloud pinned Lehigh on its own 4. Both would be crucial, as Starks ripped the ball away from Jay Campbell on the second play of the drive. Princeton found itself inside the red zone, and Jacob paid it off with a 24-yard field goal.
Lehigh returned the favor on the first play of the second quarter, stripping Matt Zimmerman on a 3rd-and-1 surge near the 25. Shane Ryan recovered it, giving Lehigh good field position at the 29. The Tiger defense was up for the challenge, stopping Lehigh on four plays, including a fourth-down pass attempt that went incomplete.
The Princeton offense started moving from that point. Its first drive moved to the Lehigh 22, but a fourth-and-inches was stopped. Its second drive would be even faster and more effective; Wornham hit Peacock on a deep post for an 80-yard touchdown to give Princeton its first lead of the game. On 3rd-and-10, Peacock made his cut around the 35 and caught it at the 42; his cornerback slipped on the coverage, and the safety came too far inside. Peacock caught the ball in stride and was never challenged on his way to the end zone.
Lehigh took the lead on its ensuing drive, going 58 yards in seven plays and scoring on a one-yard rush by Sean Farrell. A 28-yard pass to Wojdowski gave Lehigh the ball on the Princeton 30 early in the drive, and after another pass, the Mountain Hawks used five straight rushes to score.
Over the final five minutes of the half, Princeton ran 16 of the last 20 plays and went into halftime trailing 14-13. Its first drive ended at the Lehigh 21, where Jacob missed a 38-yard field goal attempt when the ball sailed just wide of the left upright.
An interception by Clemons at the Princeton 47 gave the Tiger offense one more chance before halftime. A 17-yard completion to Peacock on 3rd-and-6 moved the ball to the Lehigh 32, and a 20-yard completion to Harry Flaherty got the ball inside the red zone. A holding call threatened to negate the effort, but a 20-yard pass to Kerr with six seconds remaining gave Jacob one more chance. His 24-yard field goal would be the final play of the half.
A fired up Princeton defense got after Lehigh to open the second half. After Jaiye Falusi made a tackle on the kickoff at the Mountain Hawk 15, Matt Landry sacked Lum at the 3. A short punt gave Princeton its first possession at the Lehigh 44. Penalties hampered the Tigers on its drive, but Jacob hit a 35-yard kick to give the Tigers a 16-14 lead.
Lehigh found its offense once again and drove to the Princeton 13, where Jake Peery made a 30-yard field goal to give the Mountain Hawks a 17-16 lead. An interception by Jarard Cribbs was returned to the 16-yard-line, giving Lehigh a chance to extend that lead. A third-and-short quarterback keeper was stuffed at the line, but Peery connected from 25 yards to give Lehigh a 20-16 lead.
As he did at the end of the first half, Jacob cut the deficit to one point with a 39-yard field goal to conclude a nine-play, 60-yard drive by the offense. A 40-yard completion down the right sideline by Peacock put Princeton in position to score, and Jacob finished the drive for the fourth time.
Lehigh used trickery to score its first touchdown of the half. Campbell took the pitch and headed toward the left sideline before throwing to an open Wojdowski for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Princeton needed points in the worst way, and third-down conversion runs by Wornham and Kerr gave Jacob the opportunity at a fifth field goal. This one came from 43 yards, and once again the junior was on target. It was Princeton’s longest field goal since Derek Javarone made one from 43 yards on Oct. 1, 2005 against Columbia.
Princeton got a stop on the next possession, but Cribbs picked off his second pass of the game near midfield, and Lehigh went on to put the game out of reach. A third-down pass to Wojdowski barely missed the fingers of lineman Dan Fitzsimmons, and the tight end went in untouched for the put-away touchdown.
Princeton will make its 2010 home debut next Saturday at 6 p.m. when it takes on Lafayette. It will be Community & Staff Day, and tickets can be ordered here.