Football Team Fumbles Away Game, Chance To Jump Back In Ivy Race
Nov. 8, 2003
PHILADELPHIA - The Princeton football team fumbled five times in the first half, and Penn capitalized by scoring 20 points off those turnovers, as the Tigers dropped a 37-7 contest to the No. 9 Quakers clinched a share of the Ivy League title. Princeton falls to 2-6, but can salvage a winning record in the Ivy League with wins in its last two games.
Of Princeton's first nine drives of the game, three ended in punts and zero ended in points. While one ended at the finale of the first half, the other five ended in fumbles, and that doesn't include a drive that never started after Princeton failed to recover a bouncing kickoff.
Quarterback Matt Verbit ended the day with 273 yards passing on a 19-for-29 effort, and starting wideouts Blair Morrison (121) and B.J. Szymanski (119) each had stellar efforts. The running game never got on track, as Penn limited the Tigers to 1.9 yards per carry. Linebacker Justin Stull continues to prove he is a strong candidate for All-Ivy honors, recording 12 tackles, including 10 solo stops, and three tackles for a loss. He also recorded a sack and forced a fumble.
Penn couldn't have asked for a much better start to the contest. The Quakers held Princeton to negative yardage on its first drive and then scored three plays into their first drive. Following two solid runs by Mathews, Penn ran a flea-flicker to open the scoring. Mitchell took the flip from Mathews and found Dan Castles alone on a post pattern. The junior wideout caught the 39-yard scoring play and ran in untouched for the 7-0 lead.
Princeton's second offensive possession gained positive yards, but failed to pick up a first down, and Penn immediately went on the move. The Quakers got to the Princeton 10-yard line before the Tigers held, including an open-field tackle by freshman Tim Strickland on 3rd-and-goal that forced Peter Veldman to kick his ninth field goal of the season. It was a 10-0 lead for the Quakers 10 minutes into the game, and Princeton needed something positive to happen.
Unfortunately, the only positive was going Penn's way. After a five-yard gain on first down, Princeton lost yardage on second down and threw a screen pass to Tim Bowden on third down, who was hit and fumbled the ball at the Princeton 20-yard line. Mitchell immediately connected on a 17-yard pass, and Matthews went up the middle for the score.
Princeton finally got a big play on the ensuing drive with a 58-yard pass to B.J. Szymanski, but Verbit fumbled two plays later to give it right back. Penn would drive twice in a row for field goals, and then put the game on ice by recovering a bouncing kickoff late in the first half and capitalizing with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dan Castles.
Princeton's lone score came on a 2-yard touchdown run by Jon Veach in the third quarter.
Princeton returns home next weekend for the final game of the season at Princeton Stadium. The Tigers will take on Yale for the 126th time at 1 p.m. in a game that can be seen live on the YES Network. The Bulldogs won a defensive struggle last season, scoring late to win a 7-3 game.