Oct. 8, 2005
PRINCETON - Head coach Roger Hughes knew his team would trail eventually, and he was interested to see how his Princeton football team would handle it. He just wasn't interested in seeing it as soon as he did. Although the Tigers (3-1) showed plenty of fight, an early 13-point deficit against Colgate (3-2) doomed Princeton in a 16-10 loss to the Raiders in front of the 4,219 soaked fans who braved a torrential rainstorm.
A pair of special teams miscues eventually did the Tigers in, as a long kickoff return by Colgate and a fumbled kickoff by Princeton helped the Raiders to a 13-0 lead. Princeton quarterback Jeff Terrell did his best to lead the Tigers back, throwing for 161 yards on 11-for-28 passing, which included a career-long 34-yard touchdown pass to Greg Fields. That pass got the Tigers to within three points, but they would never get any closer.
"I won't use the rain as an excuse," head coach Roger Hughes said after the contest. "They played in it too, and they executed. We didn't. It's as simple as that. We have to learn from this game and be ready for next week."
Colgate defended the Princeton rushing attack well, holding the Tigers to 82 yards on 27 rushes. Junior Cleo Kirkland led the way with 33 yards, while Fields led the receiving corps with four catches for 84 yards. Colgate freshman Jordan Scott led all players with 112 yards on 34 carries, which included a 1-yard score to give Colgate its initial lead. The Princeton defense got a terrific effort from its linebacking corps. Senior co-captain Justin Stull had a game-high 13 tackles, while each of the remaining three senior linebackers (Nate Starrett, Abi Fadeyi and Rob Holuba) each recorded at least 10 tackles apiece. Stull also recorded a forced fumble, a pass break-up and a sack, while senior cornerback Jay McCareins recorded his fifth interception of the season to go along with eight tackles.
Senior placekicker Derek Javarone connected on a 27-yard field goal to tie Taylor Northrop for the Princeton career record for field goals made (38). Javarone is a perfect 9-for-9 on the season.
The Tigers, who hadn't trailed once in their first three games, found themselves behind 6-0 before one full minute elapsed. Thanks to a 60-yard kickoff return on the opening play of the game, Colgate drove 28 yards in three plays and scored the opening touchdown on a 1-yard run from freshman Jordan Scott. The extra point attempt by Mike Rava went wide right, giving Colgate a 6-0 lead.
Things got no better on Princeton's first touch, as McCareins found a seam on the kickoff return but had the ball stripped by J.J. Bennett before he got through. The opportunistic Raiders took advantage, as Cody Williams beat two Tigers to the ball for possession. The ball once again started at the Princeton 28-yard line, and this time it took Colgate four plays to get into the end zone. On third down inside the red zone, quarterback Mike Saraceno hit Kenny Parker on a slant for a 12-yard touchdown. Rava's extra point gave Colgate a 13-0 lead fewer than three minutes into the game.
Princeton's first three drives didn't yield any points, but they helped settle the pace of the game. Terrific punting by Colin McDonough pinned Colgate inside its own 20-yard-line twice, and the Tiger defense took advantage with quick stops. That defense made a play of its own, and it was McCareins who made up for his earlier miscue by picking off an overthrown pass and returning it 20 yards into the Colgate red zone. He was stripped at the end of the play, but defensive end Mike Meehan dove on the ball to secure possession. Colgate held its ground and forced a 27-yard field goal attempt by Javarone, which he made despite the soaked ground.
The remainder of the first half belonged to the defenses and the weather, as both teams combined to average slightly more than 100 total yards apiece. The Colgate defense continued to control the game on the first drive of the second half, as Williams recorded his second turnover of the game by picking off a Terrell pass and returning it into Princeton territory. Colgate took it to the 28-yard-line where it faced 4th-and-2, and Saraceno rolled right and found DeWayne Long at the 15-yard-line. Princeton held them to a 25-yard field goal attempt, and the defense was rewarded as Rava's kick banged off the right upright.
That play seemed to spark the Tigers, who started moving the ball into the fourth quarter. A fumbled snap killed a 9-play, 69-yard drive at the Colgate 22-yard-line, but a sack by Stull on Colgate's ensuing drive forced a fumble that was recovered by Nate Starrett at the Colgate 34-yard-line. Princeton wasted no time in capitalizing, as Terrell hit Fields on a deep post for the 34-yard score. Terrell did the first part, finding Fields wide open at the 20-yard-line, and Fields did the rest with a cutback behind safety Geoff Bean for the score. A terrific job by holder Colin McDonough allowed Javarone to get away the extra point.
Colgate tacked on three more points on its ensuing drive. A 50-yard pass from Saraceno to Erik Burke down the right sideline got Colgate inside the red zone. A three-yard run and a pair of incompletions set up a 22-yard field goal by Rava, which split the uprights for the 16-10 lead.
The Tigers would have three more attempts at a game-winning touchdown drive, but dropped passes plagued the Tigers through the remainder of the fourth quarter. Princeton got one first down on a 12-yard pass to Brigham with slightly more than three minutes remaining, but eight straight incompletions to end the game foiled any final hopes.
The Tigers will finish their season with six Ivy League contests, beginning with next Saturday's 1 p.m. contest at Brown. Princeton has defeated the Bears three straight times, including a 34-14 win in Brown two seasons ago that featured an NCAA record 99-yard touchdown pass from Matt Verbit to Clinton Wu. Brown, picked third in the preseason poll, opened its Ivy League schedule two weeks ago with a double-overtime loss to defending champion Harvard. The Bears have been hot since, rolling off two straight wins against Patriot League rivals.