Turnovers Plague Football Team In 21-14 Heartbreaker
Nov. 12, 2005
PRINCETON - Seven turnovers and several untimely penalties doomed the Princeton football team, which watched a 14-0 lead evaporate and its championships dreams get left on life support in a stunning turn of events in the game's final minutes. A late 1-yard touchdown run by Jeff Mroz and the Bulldogs' fifth interception of the game sealed Yale's 21-14 victory over the Tigers in the final game at Princeton Stadium this season.
A 28-yard touchdown pass to Derek Davis and a 32-yard touchdown pass to Brian Brigham opened a 14-0 lead with 6:22 remaining in the first half. Unfortunately, those would be the last points Princeton would score, as an opportunistic Yale defense earned seven takeaways from that point to pull off the upset.
An interception by Nick Solakian in the third quarter set up Yale's first scoring drive of the game, which concluded with a 1-yard run on fourth down by Mike McLeod. That cut the Yale deficit in half with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter. Princeton would hold that lead for more than 15 minutes, but it was the final two minutes of the game that proved to be the most costly.
Following a punt out of his own end zone by Colin McDonough, Yale went on an eight-play, 36-yard drive to even the score at 14-14. Mroz completed a pair of passes to Ashley Wright to get to the 10-yard-line, but Princeton stopped Mroz on his first three passes and got a 4th-and-goal at the 10. Mroz completed an out to Todd Feiereisen for the score with 1:14 remaining in the quarter. Princeton got the ball back at the 20-yard-line and attempted to drive for the winning points. The first pass proved disastrous, as Jeff Terrell completed a crossing pass to Brian Shields, who was hit by Brendan Sponheimer and lost control of the ball. It was grabbed in midair by Bobby Abare, who took it to the 1-yard-line. Mroz snuck it in for the go-ahead score, and Mike Holben picked off a late desperation pass to clinch the win for Yale.
Princeton outgained Yale 382-263, including a career-high 230 yards passing from Terrell. He threw two of his best balls of the day to give Princeton its 14-0 lead. On the Tigers' second drive of the game, a strong running game and a pass to Brendan Circle got Princeton into Yale territory. On 4th-and-12 at the 28-yard-line, Terrell found Davis uncovered on a deep corner for the score. It was Davis' second straight game with a touchdown.
Two drives later, Terrell engineered a 9-play, 59-yard scoring drive. The time it was Brigham who found the opening behind the Yale defense and caught a deep post pass from the 32-yard touchdown.
Princeton moved the ball deep into the red zone on its next drive, which came right before halftime. On 3rd-and-4 at the 5-yard-line, Terrell's pass was tipped and intercepted by Lee Driftmier. Although Yale's drive ended with a missed field goal attempt, the points Princeton failed to get on the drive proved to be costly.
The Princeton defense was led by senior co-captain Justin Stull, who made 15 tackles in the loss. Stull needs nine tackles in the final game of the season to tie Aaron Harris for second place on the all-time Princeton list. Senior defensive back Jay McCareins recorded two interceptions to increase his national lead to eight.
Princeton, which can still finish with its best record in a decade with a win next weekend at Dartmouth, still has slim hopes for an Ivy League title. The Tigers need to defeat the Big Green and get help from Columbia, which would need to avoid a winless season in the Ivy League by topping Brown. The Bears rallied to defeat Dartmouth Saturday and need to win next week to clinch the outright Ivy title.