Wild Williams Touchdown Ends 2004 Season With Win
Nov. 20, 2004
PRINCETON - Finally, the break went Princeton's way. A blocked field goal touched three players' hands, including James Williams, who carried in the game-winning touchdown late in a 17-10 victory over Dartmouth.
The win ends Princeton's season with a 5-5 record, which marks a three-game improvement from 2003 and gives Princeton possession of the "1917 Sawhorse Dollar," which will be give annually to the winner of the Princeton-Dartmouth game. It also ends the careers of 20 seniors, who will remember the wild final game of their careers quite fondly.
The winning score came with 5:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. With the score tied 10-10, Derek Javarone lined up for a 42-yard field goal. Javarone, who has made seven field goals in the last three weeks and who was a perfect 5-for-5 against Dartmouth last season, saw his kick get blocked by Clayton Smith, who leaped high in the middle of the line and caught it with his right hand. The ball deflected to holder Colin McDonough, who tried to run the ball the necessary two yards for a first down. Two Dartmouth players jumped on him at the 24-yard-line, which would have been one yard short of the first down. While nearly everybody in the stadium thought the play was complete, Williams came out of the pile with the football and ran towards the end zone.
"At first, I just wanted to give him a push to get the first down," the junior defensive end, who scored a touchdown on a fumble return at San Diego earlier in the season, said. "Then two guys went for him, and I saw the ball. He says he gave it to me, but I think I took it."
Whichever was the case, Williams' ability to reach in, grab the football and run it into the end zone gave Princeton a 17-10 lead with slightly more than five minutes to play. Dartmouth followed with a 10-play, 47-yard drive that ended on back-to-back drops in the end zone, including the final one on 4th-and-10 at the 24-yard line.
The Big Green exhausted its timeouts on Princeton's following drive and got the ball back at its own 34-yard line with 2:27 remaining. The senior members of the defense made sure their final stand would be a memorable one. Sacks by Peter Kelly, Keasey and, on 4th down, Chris Browne, ended the Dartmouth drive 21 yards behind the original line of scrimmage.
Keasey will end his final season as the Ivy League leader in tackles. His 22 tackles give him 127 for the season, the third-highest single-season total ever at Princeton. Keasey also had four tackles for loss and two sacks in the win. Junior Justin Stull chipped in with 10 tackles and a sack, while Tim Strickland added his team-best fourth interception of the season.
On the offensive side of the ball, senior quarterback Matt Verbit completed 20 of 26 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown, the only one for the Princeton offense on the day, came late in the second quarter. With no timeouts remaining and 12 seconds left in the half, Verbit scrambled right and found junior defensive back/wide receiver Jay McCareins, who broke free of his defender and caught a five-yard touchdown pass. It was the final of 24 career touchdown passes thrown by the No. 2 passer ever at Princeton; those 24 touchdowns were thrown to 14 different teammates.
Princeton opened the scoring with a 33-yard field goal from Javarone in the second quarter, but Dartmouth would even the score with a 31-yard kick from Erik Hinterbichler. That score would hold until McCareins' late touchdown, but Dartmouth would again even the score when Charlie Rittgers lofted a perfect pass to Andrew Hall, who has made a career of spectacular catches for Dartmouth. His reception in the back of the end zone evened the score at 10 with 11:16 remaining in the third quarter.