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No. 22 Football Rallies For Overtime Thriller At Colgate, Stays Perfect In '06

By: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 10/09/2006
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Jeff Terrell threw for a career-high 293 yards against Colgate, but it was his rushing TD that provided the winning margin.
Courtesy: Beverly Schaefer

HAMILTON, N.Y. - Another fourth-quarter rally, led by a brilliant performance by senior quarterback Jeff Terrell, and a critical 2-point stop by Tom Methvin on the final play of overtime sent the No. 22 Princeton football team to a thrilling 27-26 win at Colgate. The win improves Princeton to 4-0 for the first time since 1995 and gives the Tigers their first 3-0 record against the Patriot League since 1997.

 

A missed Colgate field goal on the final play of regulation forced overtime, and Princeton lost the coin toss before overtime. That sent Terrell and the offense on the field, and following an incompletion, Terrell hit Adam Berry, who tipped the ball to himself and caught it for nine yards. A third-down stop forced a decision by head coach Roger Hughes, who called a timeout after first sending in the field goal unit.

 

“At first, I thought it was a yard and a half,” Hughes said, “but Terrell told me it was only inches. I looked him in the eye as he promised me he would pick up the first down.

 

Terrell did pick it up, then hit Rob Toresco on a rollout pass to the 5-yard-line. Terrell kept on an option to pick up the first down, then called his own number on a keeper. He dragged one Colgate defender into the end zone with him, and the PAT by Connor Louden gave Princeton a 27-20 lead.

 

Colgate came right back and scored in two plays. A swing pass to Jordan Scott scored from 26 yards out, and this time it was Colgate head coach Dick Biddle forced to make a decision. He sent out his offense to go for two and called a quarterback keeper of his own. Splitting most of his skill players out right, quarterback Mike Saraceno ran a draw play directly into the arms of Methvin, who stood him up on the spot to end the game.

 

“The coaches talk about staying home,” Methvin said. “I was just doing my job on that play. Anytime somebody goes for a two-point conversion, we see that as a challenge, and we were ready for anything.”

 

Princeton showed toughness and character again by overcoming its own miscues, especially turnovers and penalties, to gain the win. Terrell threw for a career-best 293 yards to move into 10th place on the all-time Princeton passing list. He threw a touchdown pass to Brendan Circle and ran in his own score in overtime. Circle caught four passes for 116 yards, giving the Tigers’ their first 100-yard receiver in a game since October, 2004 (Greg Fields).

R.C. Lagomarsino led the rushing attack with 39 yards. Although he had a pair of fumbles, he also had key runs at crucial times that helped the offense stay in flow. Toresco ran the ball seven times for 32 yards and scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

The defense, which allowed only two of 14 third-down conversions to Colgate, was led by Tim Boardman’s 12 tackles, including six solo stops. Brig Walker added eight tackles, including three for loss, while Jake Marshall had two tackles for loss among his four stops. Three players had five tackles, including Tom Hurley, who added a pair of pass break-ups.

The opening of the game was not ideal for Princeton, as Lagomarsino took a sweep to the right side of the line but was stripped by Ryan Keller. The ball squirted free and was picked up by Chris Epko, who appeared to have a free pass to the end zone, but wide receiver Brian Brigham dragged him down from behind.

Colgate got into the end zone anyway. Following an option run by Jordan Scott to the 1-yard-line, quarterback Mike Saraceno called his own number and scored on a bootleg to the right side. The five-play, 25-yard scoring drive gave Colgate a quick lead for the second straight season; in the 2005 rain-soaked battle at Princeton Stadium, the Raiders scored 13 points in three minutes and never trailed in a 16-10 win.

Princeton’s offensive possessions resulted in punts the rest of the first quarter. Penalties and misplayed shotgun snaps hurt the Tigers throughout the quarter, but they were able to gain enough yards to get even in the field position battle. Sophomore Ryan Coyle took over the punting duties Saturday after three-time All-Ivy punter Colin McDonough was injured during the week of practice.

Freshman Mark Paski helped the Tigers avoid disaster on the final play of the first quarter. A tackle by Nate Johnson forced a Terrell fumble, which rolled back to the Princeton 5-yard-line. Paski dove and recovered the ball before a pair of Colgate defenders could get to it. Coyle was forced to punt from his end zone, but he sent a nice kick out towards midfield, and the defense held to keep the score at 7-7 with 12:30 remaining in the second quarter.

Lagomarsino took the first handoff of the next drive 33 yards to the Colgate 47-yard-line, and Terrell followed with a 14-yard strike to Toresco. Running a no-huddle offense, Terrell found Circle directly down the middle of the field for a 33-yard score. The scoring drive went 80 yards in three plays and took 57 seconds off the clock.

Following a kickoff eight yards into the end zone by freshman Matt Lichtenstein, the defense built on the momentum with a quick 3-and-out. Consecutive tackles for loss by Jon Stem and Jake Marshall set the tone on the first two plays, and a screen pass to Scott was well short of the first down. Terrell quickly put the offense back in motion, hitting Brigham on an out pattern and then finding Circle on a similar seam pattern to the Colgate 17-yard-line. The Raiders held there, but Louden booted a 33-yard field goal to put Princeton ahead 10-7. The kick was held by Chris Lee, who replaced McDonough in that role.

Scott, the 2005 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, carried Colgate on its next possession with several positive rushing attempts, mostly through the middle or right side of the line. Rob Anderson made a key third-and-short stop at the 21-yard-line, but Saraceno got the first down on a keeper off the right side of the line. Scott gained four yards on the next two carries, and Saraceno put them in another 4th-and-inches spot with a keeper up the middle. Saraceno surged forward to the 1-yard-line. Scott finished the run-heavy drive by going off the left side of the line for the touchdown. A strong rush by Foran off the left side of the line forced Jacob Stein to push his kick to the outside left of the uprights, and Princeton went into the half trailing 13-10.

Colgate moved down the field on its first drive of the second half, but Princeton forced a fourth-down incompletion at its own 30-yard-line to regain possession. Terrell hit Adam Berry on third-and-9 for 16 yards, then quickly followed with a rollout completion to Jake Staser that put the Tigers on the Brown 33-yard-line. An option to Toresco brought the Tigers to the 15-yard-line, but Princeton would only gain two more yards. Louden’s 30-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Ryan Keller, the first blocked field goal against Princeton since 1999.

A defensive stand gave Princeton the ball back, and a second-effort surge by Toresco on 4th-and-1 put the ball at the Colgate 40-yard-line. Nifty footwork by Brigham on a quick out allowed the senior wideout to gain 10 extra yards and move the ball to the 22-yard-line. A third-down draw to Ploszek surprised the Colgate defense, and hard-nosed running by the sophomore brought the ball to the 1-yard-line. Terrell and Toresco did the rest, scoring on an option to the right side. Toresco’s score and Louden’s extra point gave the Tigers a 17-13 lead.

After another defensive stop, Lagomarsino got the Tiger offense in motion with a shifty move through the line for a first down. Terrell hit Circle again in the middle of the field to get inside the red zone, and Lagomarsino carried five yards to the Colgate 12-yard-line. Toresco needed two rushes to earn a 1st-and-goal at the 6-yard-line, but Colgate stripped Lagomarsino inside the 5-yard-line and recovered the ball at its own 17-yard-line.

The defense needed a stand on this critical momentum shift, and it was helped by an illegal block call against the Raiders that set Colgate up with 1st-and-22 on its own 20-yard-line. Stem rushed a third-down pass and forced a Raider punt from the 38-yard-line.

The Princeton offense was stifled on its drive, and Colgate got a 41-yard pass to Anthony Pumilio to get the ball down to the 1-yard-line. Saraceno again did it with his legs, scoring on a 2-yard-run to give Colgate a 20-17 lead with 6:20 remaining in the game.

Brigham returned the ensuing kickoff to the 35-yard-line, and Princeton went back into its no-huddle offense. Terrell hit Circle down the middle to the 45-yard-line, and then kept it for nine more yards. An 18-yard crossing pattern to Brian Shields got the ball inside the red zone, but Colgate stiffened at that point and forced Louden, in only his fourth start, to kick a pressure-packed 34-yard field goal. The sophomore was up to the effort and drilled the attempt with 4:07 left.

A good kickoff return and 15-yard penalty gave Colgate the ball at the Princeton 45-yard-line. Colgate converted on a 4th-and-short to get the ball at the Princeton 33-yard-line, and then Kenny Parker caught a pass for 11 yards. With the ball on the 22-yard-line, Scott went backwards twice on tackles for loss by Walker and Tim Boardman, and Jacob Stein was forced to attempt a 38-yard field goal with seconds remaining, but the kick was well off its mark and overtime commenced.

Princeton will begin the heart of its Ivy League season next Friday night at 7 p.m. against the Brown Bears. The game will be televised live on ESPNU, and tickets are still available at the Princeton ticket office (609-258-3538 or www.GoPrincetonTigers.com). The matchup pits the top two teams in the Ivy standings from last season.

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