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Bookend Touchdown Passes Lead Football To Comeback Over Colgate

By: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 10/11/2002
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Oct. 12, 2002

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Not to overlook the nine completions in between, but junior quarterback David Splithoff will remember Saturday's 14-10 victory over Colgate for both his first completion of the game and his final one. In all likelihood, the rest of both teams' players and the 11,485 fans at Princeton Stadium will too.

Splithoff threw touchdown passes of 62 and 73 yards to lead Princeton to its second consecutive come-from-behind victory against Colgate, which had dominated the Tigers over each of the last two seasons. His 73-yard score went to sophomore wideout B.J. Szymanski, who caught seven passes for 170 yards in the win. Princeton's defense did the job the rest of the way, led by an 11-tackle, three-sack effort by junior linebacker Zak Keasey and a timely interception by Jay McCareins. The win improves Princeton to 3-1 and matches the Tigers' win total over each of the last three seasons. The Tigers are in the midst of their first three-game winning streak since the 1997 season. Colgate ended its three-game winning streak and fell to 3-3.

Cameron Atkinson recorded his career-best third consecutive 100-yard rushing game. He gained 104 yards on 15 attempts and put the game away with a first-down run in the final minute. Splithoff has now thrown seven touchdown passes this season, and five have been for at least 50 yards. For his career, 11 of his 19 touchdown passes have been from at least that distance.

Princeton wasted no time jumping ahead of the Raiders, as Splithoff found senior Andy Bryant on a deep post for a touchdown on Princeton's first play. It was Splithoff's 18th career touchdown pass, and his tenth touchdown of over 50 yards.

Princeton would get the ball back two plays later. On second down for the Raiders, Eric Gugliemotti caught a screen pass but fumbled the ball. Junior defensive end pounced on the football, giving Princeton its second offensive possession in the first 80 seconds of the game. The Colgate defense stiffened, knocking Bryant out of bounds inches behind the marker on fourth down.

Colgate took the ensuing possession and drove it 56 yards on five plays. Lane Schwarzberg kicked a season-long 33-yard field goal to trim the deficit to four points. It was Schwarzberg's first successful kick of the season from beyond 30 yards.

The Tigers' next possession would be a tough one, as Splithoff took a nasty hit seconds after pitching to Cameron Atkinson on a running play. The junior quarterback was hit by the Colgate defensive end and was clearly staggered after the play. Sophomore Matt Verbit came in and got one first down, but the Colgate defense again forced a turnover on downs. Verbit would lead Princeton on two more possessions before Splithoff made it back into the game later in the second quarter.

Both teams would spend the rest of the first half trading defensive stands. Both teams were able to move the ball through the first 30 minutes (there were a total of 356 yards gained in the first half) but neither defense would break. That trend would continue throughout most of the third quarter. Colgate finally earned a lead after starting with its worst field position of the day. Following a 57-yard punt by Joe Nardello pinned the Raiders at their seven-yard line, Colgate gained a quick first down before Tom McCune found wideout J.B. Gerald down the right sideline for a 73-yard touchdown pass. Gerald broke one tackle before holding off Blake Perry on the goal line for the score.

Princeton quickly moved the ball back into Colgate territory, thanks mostly to a 41-yard run down the left sidelines by Cameron Atkinson. The former All-Ivy sprinter gave Princeton a much-needed burst of momentum by taking the pitch wide and using his speed to get down the field. A deadball personal foul on Colgate gave Princeton 15 extra yards on the next play, and a crossing pass to Blair Morrison put the ball inside the Colgate 10-yard line. Splithoff kept on an option to gain a first down, giving the Tigers first and goal at the five-yard line. An option to Atkinson went to the one-yard line, but a false start pushed the ball back to the six-yard line. Derek Javarone failed to convert on a 28-yard field goal, and any momentum Princeton had gained went back to the Colgate side.

After both teams traded possessions, Princeton nearly regained momentum on a tipped Colgate pass that ended in the hands of Tigers' linebacker Drew Babinecz. Instead of taking possession at midfield, Princeton was flagged for pass interference, and Colgate was awarded a first down. Colgate was able to run a couple of minutes off the clock before punting.

With the ball at its own 13-yard line and 3:25 remaining on the clock, the Tigers went to work. Splithoff found Bryant for 14 yards, and then hit a wide open Szymanski down the right side. The 6-5 sophomore did the rest, breaking one tackle, regaining his balance and beating the rest of the secondary for the score.

With 2:38 remaining, Colgate began its final drive of the game. The Raiders converted on a third and 10 and a fourth and 20 before having a fourth and 15 at the Princeton 34-yard line. McCune attempted a deep post that was picked on a spectacular leaping one-handed play by McCareins. Atkinson took the first snap for 13 yards to gain the only first down needed to run out the clock.

Princeton will spend its final six weeks in Ivy League play, beginning Saturday when the Tigers play host to Brown University.

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