Sept 28, 2002
PRINCETON, N.J. - Senior Cameron Atkinson rushed for 121 yards and a career-best three touchdowns to lead the Princeton football team to a 34-19 victory over Lafayette in front of 13,275 fans in the Tigers' home opener Saturday night. It was Atkinson's fifth career 100-yard rushing day, and he became Princeton's first player to rush for three touchdowns since quarterback David Splithoff did it against Harvard two years ago.
While the offense was efficient, especially in the first half, the defense got the job done when Lafayette began to rally. Led by the efforts of linebacker Zak Keasey and defensive back Brandon Mueller, the Tigers pulled the plug on a 19-point surge by the Leopards during the second half. Keasey had 13 tackles and a key interception off a tipped ball by Mueller, while Mueller had two interceptions himself and five tackles. Just as it did last week, Princeton jumped out to a big lead. Splithoff opened the scoring on the Tigers' first drive by finding tight end Tyler Peace for a 12-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone. It was the first career touchdown for Peace and the fourth straight game where Splithoff has thrown a touchdown pass.
Following a 32-yard field goal by freshman David Javarone, Atkinson took over the scoring with a pair of touchdown runs (11 and 4).
Lafayette took a bit of momentum into the intermission on a 34-yard touchdown run by Joe McCourt, which came on a draw play on 3rd and 10. That momentum grew in the third quarter, as quarterback Marco Glavic found Tim Walsh for a 20-yard touchdown strike, and McCourt scored again on a 2-yard run. A missed extra point and a failed two-point conversion kept Princeton ahead by five points.
Javarone made it 27-19 on a career-best 39-yard field goal. Lafayette began to drive down the field, but on a 2nd and 12 at the Princeton 31-yard line, Mueller got free on a safety blitz and tipped a pass by Glavic. Keasey reached over his head and made the interception.
Princeton ensured that it would get no closer, driving the length of the field on the ensuing possession. Atkinson finished his day with a one-yard score, putting Princeton ahead 34-19 at the 7:12 mark.
Lafayette would have the ball two more times, but each possession ended on interceptions by Mueller and Jay McCareins, respectively.
Princeton will open its 2002 Ivy League schedule when it travels to Columbia next Saturday. The contest will begin at 1:30 p.m. Princeton defeated the Lions 44-11 last season.