Oct. 1, 2005
PRINCETON - In its most lopsided victory since its Ivy League championship season of 1995, the Princeton football team outrushed Columbia 324-26 and outscored it by 10 points in every quarter during its 43-3 Ivy League-opening victory over Columbia Saturday afternoon at Princeton Stadium. Both tailback Cleo Kirkland and quarterback Jeff Terrell rushed for two touchdowns apiece, and the Princeton defense held Columbia to 0-for-11 on third-down conversions as the Tigers improved to 3-0 for the second straight season.
"I really felt that we controlled the game on both the offensive and defensive line," head coach Roger Hughes said after Princeton's most lopsided victory in his six-year tenure. "I couldn't be more pleased with the effort we gave today. I want to call it an A-minus effort, because we left some points out there with penalties, and I don't want to put a limit on what this team can do. I told the guys afterwards to be pleased, not satisfied."
There was certainly plenty to be pleased about. Kirkland became Princeton's first runner to rush for more than 100 yards since Branden Benson gained 133 yards last season against Colgate, next week's opponent for the Tigers. Kirkland gained 130 yards on 21 carries, and he scored both the first and last touchdowns of the game for the Tigers. Terrell added 79 yards rushing to his 186 passing yards (14 for 25, 0 TDs, O INTs), and both Greg Fields and Brendan Circle led Princeton receivers with 57 yards apiece. Nine different players ran the ball for Princeton, including sophomore fullback Rob Toresco, who rushed nine times for 51 yards. The defense, which was only on the field for 19:48, was opportunistic, especially on third downs. Columbia entered the game as the top-ranked team in the Ivy League on third-down conversions, but Princeton shut the Lions out on all 11 opportunities. Nate Starrett and Jay McCareins each made five tackles apiece, while Brig Walker and Pat McGrath both recorded sacks. Charles Bahlert recorded his first career interception and Tim Strickland recorded Princeton's first fumble recovery of the season.
Lost in the dominance of the Princeton offense was another terrific effort from Derek Javarone, who matched his own Ivy League record with five made field goals in a single league game. He also set the Ivy League record with points by a kicker (19) and moved within one field goal of Taylor Northrop for the all-time Princeton record, which Northrop currently hold with 38.
For the third time in as many games, Princeton scored the first points of the contest. Two receptions by Brian Brigham and a long run by Toresco keyed a 12-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal by Derek Javarone. The Tigers dodged a bullet on the first play of the drive, when a fumble by Brigham was secured on a diving effort from center Andy Aurich.
After forcing a Columbia punt, Terrell led the Princeton offense back down the field. A 41-yard play-action pass to Brandon Circle put Princeton in Columbia territory, and a 12-yard burst up the middle by Toresco got Princeton a first down at the Lion 15-yard-line. Following a short run by Toresco, Terrell rolled left and found tight end Jon Dekker inside the 5-yard-line. The senior was brought down at the 3-yard-line, and short runs by Terrell and Kirkland put Princeton at the 1-yard-line on third down. Kirkland, following the blocking of his offensive line and a block by reserve fullback Joe Kovba, Kirkland ran off the left side of the line and broke in for the 10-0 lead.
The lead would surge to 13-0 on the first play of the second quarter, as Javarone drilled a career-long 43-yard field goal to complete a 7-play, 37-yard drive. A personal foul on Princeton threatened to move the Tigers out of scoring range entirely, but a crossing pass to Brian Shields gave Princeton enough yardage to allow the Javarone attempt.
Columbia resorted to trickery to get into Princeton territory. After consecutive incompletions forced a fourth down, Columbia ran a fake punt and got a 19-yard run by Dan Daylamani straight through the middle of the line. The Tiger defense stood tall and forced another fourth down opportunity, and this time Princeton would not be fooled. A deep pass down the right sideline was batted down by Jay McCareins, who entered the game as the reigning National and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week.
A 24-yard run up the middle by Terrell and an 11-yard screen pass to Greg Fields, who missed the San Diego game with an injury, put the ball on the Columbia 35-yard-line. The Tigers kept the ball on the ground to get into the red zone, but Columbia held Princeton out of the end zone.
Princeton's final scoring drive of the first half started at midfield thanks to another strong punt return from McCareins. An illegal block put Princeton back 15 yards, but a long shuffle pass to Toresco gave Princeton a chance at 4th-and-8 in Columbia territory. Flushed left, Terrell bought himself enough time to find Dekker, who planted himself at the marker and caught the pass in the middle of traffic. Kirkland took a sweep down the left side to get inside the 5-yard-line, and another run off left tackle put the ball at the 1-yard-line. Terrell did the rest, taking a snap and leaping over the line for his first career touchdown run.
Desperately in need of points before halftime, reserve quarterback Craig Hormann opened the drive with a 41-yard pass down the left sideline to Jim Besselman, who made a leaping grab against the tight coverage of J.J. Artis. The Tiger defense wouldn't allow another first down, but that play was enough for rookie kicker Jon Rocholl, who tied a Columbia record for consecutive field goals by drilling a 47-yard kick to end the first-half scoring. It marked the third straight game this season that the Princeton defense wouldn't allow a first-half touchdown.
Terrell put Princeton up 30-3 with a 16-yard quarterback keeper on Princeton's first drive of the second half. Besides a terrific third-down conversion catch from Fields, who tipped the ball to himself and eluded a Columbia defender to reach the first down, the majority of the yardage came on the ground. Kirkland did most of the work, which started with a 10-yard run to open the drive in which it took four Columbia defenders to bring him down.
Princeton would finish off the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run by Kirkland and a 34-yard field goal by Javarone.
Princeton will complete a three-week homestand next Saturday when it hosts Colgate at 1 p.m. It will be the final non-league game for the Tigers, who lost a late 12-point lead last year in a 29-26 loss at Colgate last season. The Raiders (2-2) outscored Cornell 14-0 in the fourth quarter to earn a 34-20 home victory Saturday afternoon.
NOTES - This was Princeton largest margin of victory since the Tigers defeated Lafayette 41-0 in 1995 ... James Williams blocked a 47-yard field goal attempt by Jon Rocholl, ending the freshman kicker's Columbia record of seven straight made field goals ... Princeton is a perfect 14-for-14 in red zone opportunities this season; the Tigers have scored seven touchdowns (six rushing) and kicked seven field goals ... Princeton has led for 160:28 of the season, been tied for 19:32 and has not trailed at any point ... Colin McDonough recorded his only punt of the game with 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter; the Ivy League-leading punter booted it 41 yards ... the last time Princeton started a season 4-0 was 1995, which was also Princeton's most recent Ivy League title.