Oct. 15, 2005
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Despite 247 total yards and three touchdowns from junior quarterback Jeff Terrell, the Princeton football team watch a 17-point rally fall just short in a 31-28 loss to Brown in front of 5,031 drenched fans at Brown Stadium. The Tiger loss leaves both Princeton and Brown at 1-1 in the Ivy League, with both having full control of their own destinies the rest of the season.
The lone remaining undefeated teams in league play are now Penn and Yale, both of which will enter the second half of the season with 2-0 records. Both still have games with both Princeton and Brown, so if either team runs the table in the second half, that team is assured no less than a share of the league championship. Princeton will start that stretch next weekend with a critical game at Harvard, which is in the same 1-1 boat as both Princeton and Brown.
Saturday's contest featured 802 total yards of offense, but amazingly it was a scoreless fourth quarter that pulled the win out for Brown. The Tigers, who trailed 17-0 and 24-7, scored with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter to take a 28-24 lead, but the Tigers could not manage another score the rest of the game. The Princeton offense was led by Terrell, who completed 13 of 21 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown, and he rushed the ball 12 times for 74 yards and two scores. Rob Toresco (12 rushes for 59 yards) and Jon Dekker (2 catches for 12 yards) added touchdowns for Princeton.
The offensive star of the game was Brown running back Nick Hartigan, who thrived in the muddy conditions and rushed for 245 yards on 38 carries. His effectiveness allowed the Brown passing game to succeed as well, as Bears quarterback Joe DiGiacomo used the play-action pass to complete 15 of 27 passes for 201 yards and three scores. His favorite target was Jarrett Schreck, who caught six passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. Nate Starrett recorded his second straight game with 10 tackles, including six solo stops and one forced fumble.
Brown opened the scoring on a 32-yard field goal by Steve Morgan, the NCAA leader in field goals per game. The Bears took the opening kickoff and drove it inside the Princeton red zone, but Tim Strickland defended a pass in the end zone and Abi Fadeyi made a key tackle on third down to force the field goal.
Brown grabbed a major swing of momentum over the span of two plays on its second drive. Brown quarterback Joe DiGiacomo watched his first down pass get tipped at the line of scrimmage and nearly intercepted. On the next play, he handed off to Hartigan. The Ivy League leader in rushing and touchdowns broke through the line, found the right sideline and avoided a final tackle attempt by safety David Ochotorena to score a 74-yard touchdown. It was the longest touchdown run against Princeton since Harvard's Clifton Dawson broke off an 80-yard touchdown last season.
A short kickoff return and a holding penalty on Princeton's first offensive play of its third drive pinned the Tigers deep in their own territory. The aggressive Brown defense took advantage and forced a quick punt, and Brown took over in Princeton territory. Moments later, DiGiacomo took a snap, stumbled but regained his balance, and lofted a deep pass into the front right corner of the end zone. Jarrett Schreck got a step on the defense and made the catch for a 33-yard scoring play. Before it had gained a single first down, the Tigers were staring at a 17-point hole.
The Tigers did a nice job cutting that deficit to 17-7 before the end of the quarter. Running plenty of option, Terrell led the Tigers into Brown territory using his legs more than his arm. Those legs did the job when he kept on an option to the right, cut back against the defense and scored on a 39-yard touchdown run. A late tackle attempt by Tim Cotter jarred the ball loose before Terrell got in the end zone, but the Tiger quarterback was able to fall on the ball for the score.
Brown didn't waste any time getting its 17-point lead back. Hartigan pushed Brown into Princeton territory, and with the Tigers needing to focus on stopping the bruising back, DiGiacomo went over the top on a play-action post pass to Lonnie Hill, who found an opening and scored a 36-yard touchdown pass in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Princeton tempted fate twice on its next drive, but both times they made key plays to get right back on the scoreboard. On third down, Terrell threw a pass to Brendan Circle, who was covered by Zak DeOssie. The All-Ivy linebacker tipped the pass, but Circle was able to recover, make the catch and find the first down marker. Two plays later, a shotgun snapped was slightly errant, but Terrell made the play and handed it to Toresco, who hit his hole and broke into the red zone, hurdling one Brown defender on his way to the 4-yard line. Two plays later, Terrell hit a wide open Dekker on a perfect play-action touchdown pass.
Hartigan opened Brown's ensuing drive with a 34-yard run, and a long pass to Hill got Brown inside the Tiger red zone. Desperately in need of a stop, the Tigers forced a third down and then got a much-needed turnover when Nate Starrett stripped Hartigan at the line. The ball was recovered by J.J. Artis, who beat a trio of Tigers who dove for the loose ball.
Starting inside its own 20-yard line, Terrell got Princeton a first down on a 7-yard run and a quick pass inside to Brian Shields. A personal foul facemask penalty against the Bears moved Princeton to the 43-yard-line, On third and short, Terrell stood in the face of a blitz and hit Fields over the middle for a 22-yard gain. The drive faltered when the ball slipped out of Terrell's hand on a pass attempt and was caught in midair by Patrick Fisher, but the drive took enough time off the clock that a final Brown drive never had much chance. Princeton forced a late punt, Brown's first of the game, and went into halftime trailing 24-14.
Princeton opened the third quarter with the ball and the knowledge that a touchdown would get it right back in the game. A false start put Princeton inside its own 15-yard line, but a short run and quick pass to Shields put Princeton at third and short. From there, Princeton ran off four perfect plays. On third down, Terrell dropped back to pass and, after seeing no open receivers, broke down the field and dove for an 18-yard run and a first down. He drilled a 22-yard pass to Shields along the right sideline to get into Brown territory, and then on a fake option, Terrell hit Toresco on an inside shuffle pass that went down to the Brown 2-yard-line. The Tigers went into the end zone on its next play, as Toresco took an option and went in untouched off the left side of the line.
That score fired up a defense that desperately wanted a 3-and-out. Brown lost 12 yards on its first play due to an errant snap, and the Bears would only manage four yards on a short pass before it was forced to punt from its own end zone. A high snap to Morgan forced a the junior to rush his kick, and the result was a punt that stopped on the Brown 37-yard-line.
Princeton opened with a play-action pass to Dekker, who cut across the middle and gained a first down. Fields took a misdirection option on the next play and took it 24 yards to the Brown 3-yard-line. Toresco took the first down rush inside the line to the 1-yard-line, and following a rush for no gain on second down, Terrell kept on an option on the left side of the line that put Princeton ahead 28-24 with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter.
The Tiger defense wasn't about to give up momentum, and a pass breakup by Rob Anderson forced Brown to punt again, and Fields returned the ball to the 41-yard-line. Princeton caught a major break on its first offensive play, as a Terrell pass went off of Fields' hands and was intercepted by Jamie Gasparella, but a roughing the passer call against DeOssie gave the ball back to Princeton. The Tigers would end up punting four plays later, but the difference in field position was nearly 45 yards following another booming punt by McDonough.
As it turned out, those 45 yards didn't make much of a difference. The Brown offense regained both its footing and the lead on its next drive. A 36-yard pass to Schreck and a 12-yard pass to Hill led Brown to the Princeton 7-yard-line, and following a 2-yard run by Hartigan, DiGiacomo found tight end David Turned in the back of the end zone. The pass went just over the outstretched hand of linebacker Rob Holuba and ended in the hands of Turner for his first touchdown of the season.
Brown forced a punt on Princeton's next series and then began a drive of its own, which included a 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-15. Facing another third down, Justin Stull jumped in front of a DiGiacomo pass and intercepted the ball at midfield. The momentum was short-lived, as Princeton muffed the pitch on the ensuing option play, and Brown recovered in Princeton territory. The Tigers would hold on defense and force a punt, but an early personal foul killed the ensuing drive. A punt and a stop set up the Tigers' final chance, which began at the Brown 46-yard-line thanks to a 43-yard punt return by Fields. Princeton would get seven yards on its first two plays, but an incompletion set up 4th-and-3. Terrell rolled right and found Toresco ahead of his defender, but the pass was a little out of his reach and the Bears took over. Hartigan did the rest, picking up a pair of first downs on seven carries and running the clock down to the final buzzer.
Princeton will return to New England next weekend to take on the defending Ivy League champion Harvard Crimson. The Tigers have lost nine straight games to Harvard, although their last four losses at Harvard Stadium have come by a total of 14 points. That string includes a 43-40 overtime classic two seasons ago, when the Crimson scored a touchdown on the final play to pull out the win. Harvard topped Lafayette 24-17 Saturday to end a two-game skid.