Despite the best defensive effort of the season from the Princeton defense, the Tiger football team fell to 1-4 on the season with a 17-13 loss to Brown. An injury to starting quarterback Tommy Wornham knocked the wind out of the Princeton offense and allowed Brown the opportunity to rally in the second half.
Wornham scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter and completed five of nine passes, but he was hit hard on an intercepted pass and suffered an upper-body injury. He went back out on the next drive, but was unable to play at any point after that.
Princeton played three different quarterbacks the rest of the way, including Andrew Kerr, who ran the Wildcat offense. Andrew Dixon got the majority of the snaps, while freshman Connor Kelley came in on two plays and ran a pair of keepers. None were able to sustain a drive that posted any more points after Princeton opened a 13-0 lead.
That allowed Brown to chip away at a Tiger defense that swarmed the Bears in the first half. Sophomore linebackers Tim Kingsbury and Andrew Starks both recorded double-digit tackles, while junior cornerback Blake Clemons had eight stops, including seven solo tackles.
Kingsbury had a career-best 14 tackles, including one for loss, while Starks had 11 tackles and an interception. Matt Boyer and Mandela Sheaffer both had five tackles, while senior Weston Palmer, making his first start of the season, had two tackles and a pass breakup.
Junior Patrick Jacob continued his impressive season by making two of three field goals, including one from 42 yards out. He now has 11 field goals on the season and is eight away from tying the Princeton single-season record, set in 1988 by Christopher Lutz, a former teammate of current Tiger head coach Bob Surace.
Slow starts have hampered Princeton this season, but the Tiger offense took the ball on its opening drive and moved efficiently. Zimmerman ran several sweeps and took a direct snap on 4th-and-inches inside Brown territory to keep the drive moving. Passes to Isaac Serwanga and Kerr got the ball inside the 10, and after a trio of Brown penalties, Wornham took the ball up the middle of the line for the touchdown.
Jacob’s ensuing kickoff got caught in a 20 mile per hour wind, leaving returner Mark Kachmer a tough play to field the ball. He dropped the ball and seemed in position to recover it, but the ball bounced away and Princeton’s Noah Krimm made the fumble recovery. Looking for a big defensive stand, Brown got a timely interception from Chismo Okoji at the 21.
The Princeton defense held Brown to one first down and started to move once again. Culbreath took a third-down toss off the right side of the line, found a hole and took the ball 30 yards into Brown territory. Though the offense would be halted, Princeton was able to maintain the edge in field position.
A big tackle for loss by Andrew Starks left Brown in bad shape on its next drive, and a big Princeton rush on the punt attempt left Bears kicker Nate Lovett with no choice but to attempt a long rush. He was caught well behind the marker, and Princeton capitalized. With Wornham in the locker room dealing with a big hit from the previous drive, Andrew Dixon took over. Princeton gained four yards, but those would be enough for Jacob, who booted a 37-yard field goal into the wind for a 10-0 lead.
Starks, who has been impressive in his first season as a linebacker, ended Brown’s best early possession by stepping in front of a Patrick Donnelly pass intended for Alex Tounkara, the Ivy League’s second-ranked receiver.
The leading receiver in the league is Peacock, and he made a spectacular leaping grab on a deep pass from Dixon to get Princeton into Brown territory. He outjumped three Brown defenders in the middle of the field for a 31-yard catch, but the drive ended with a missed 41-yard field goal.
Jacob bounced back on his next drive, converting on a 42-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 13-0 lead midway through the quarter. It would stay that way through halftime, as the Princeton defense completed its best half of the season by limiting Brown to only 85 yards of total offense.
Brown did move the ball on its first drive of the second half, but kicker Alexander Norocea was short on a 43-yard field goal into the wind. The offensive momentum would carry into the Bears’ second drive, and that one would finally end up in the end zone. Brown grinded out a nine-play, 63-yard drive that ended with Mark Kachmer taking a direct snap and going off right tackle for a 2-yard touchdown.
Brown had the Princeton offense figured out in the third quarter and pitched a shutout, allowing only three offensive yards. The Bears looked to take the lead at the end of the quarter, but a fourth-down pass to Kachmer was dropped. Starks was nearby on the play and might have made the stop in time, but it never came to that.
Kerr came in on the first drive of the fourth quarter and led the offense in the Wildcat set, but Brown got another stop and moved right back into Princeton territory. A long pass to Tounkara and then an 8-yard run by Kachmer moved the ball into the Tiger red zone. On 3rd and 5 at the Princeton 8, Springer hit Jonah Fay on a crossing pass for a touchdown. The extra point gave Brown a 14-13 lead with 7:39 remaining.
Dixon was back in for the next drive, but the Brown defense again forced a 3-and-out and got the ball back at its own 37. The Bears went down the field in seven plays and kicked a 38-yard field goal to open a four-point lead and force Princeton to play for a touchdown.
Princeton’s last drive, which came with 31 seconds remaining, almost produced a miracle touchdown. Dixon hit a short crossing pass to Shane Wilkinson, who flipped the ball to Trey Peacock coming from the left side of the field. Peacock pitched back to Dixon, who turned across the field and launched a backwards pass to Wilkinson along the Brown sideline. He had a blocker and got into Brown territory before he was finally forced out.
Brown was able to get to Dixon on the final play, and without a timeout remaining, Princeton saw time run out before it could get off a final play.
Princeton will complete its three-game homestand next Saturday when it takes on Harvard at 1 p.m. The game will take place during Alumni Weekend and will include a Parade of Champions at halftime; members of Princeton’s 13 championship teams during the 2009-10 academic year will be honored on Powers Field.