Sept. 27, 2003
EASTON, Pa. - The Princeton football team showed similar resolve and character Saturday as it did the week earlier against Lehigh. It also showed that going down 28-0 is no formula for victory. Joe McCourt ran for 108 yards and outscored Princeton by himself as Lafayette improved to 2-1 overall with a 28-13 win over Princeton in front of 7,107 fans at Fisher Field.
McCourt became the first opposing runner to rush for more than 100 yards in a contest against Princeton in 10 games. The last person to do it was McCourt, who ran for 149 yards in a 34-19 loss to the Tigers last season.
Junior tailbacks Branden Benson and Jon Veach each ran for 55 yards apiece, while junior quarterback Matt Verbit threw for 253 yards and a touchdown in defeat. He attempted 43 passes, a career high, and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Eric Walz in the third quarter. Sophomore middle linebacker Justin Stull led Princeton in tackles for the second straight game, recording a game-high 12. He also had the first two sacks of his collegiate career. Senior defensive end Joe Weiss added 10 tackles, including five solo stops, while freshman cornerback Tim Strickland had eight stops.
Lafayette shook off any ill effects from an ugly 19-13 loss to Towson by opening the game with an 18-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. The Leopards converted on five third-down attempts, the final one coming on a 1-yard dive by McCourt to make the score 7-0.
Things wouldn't get better on Princeton's first possession. Following one first down, Verbit threw a screen pass to Greg Fields, who was hit and fumbled the ball at the Lafayette 33-yard line. Lafayette drove for its second touchdown of the quarter, finishing with a three-yard scoring run by McCourt. Even when things looked bad for the Leopards, they went well, as a botched hold on the point-after attempt ended as a two-point conversion run by Michael O'Connor.
The first half wouldn't get better at any point, as Lafayette took a 28-0 lead into halftime. Glavic threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to McCourt early in the second quarter, and following the second fumble of the half by Fields, Glavic scored on a keeper from three yards out. A failed extra point kept the score 28-0.
Princeton finally got on the scoreboard with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter, when Verbit completed a five-play, 59-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to freshman Eric Walz. The Ft. Worth, Texas, native came across the field to the left sidelines, where he caught the strike from Verbit, eluded a tackle attempt and found the end zone for his first collegiate score.
Desperately needing a stop on Lafayette's ensuing possession, Princeton gave up a kickoff return to midfield, but held tight on a third-and-1 quarterback sneak attempt by Glavic. Instead of punting, Lafayette ran a fourth-down option to McCourt, who picked up 11 yards on the play. While the drive ended with a missed field goal attempt, it ate up more than five minutes and pinned Princeton deep into its own territory.
The Tigers wasted little time, going into a no-huddle, shotgun offense. A third-down conversion on a shovel pass to Veach and a 24-yard pass to Blair Morrison got Princeton down to the three-yard line. A penalty moved the ball to the one-yard line, where Branden Benson powered his way into the end zone, but Elliot Bishop missed the point-after attempt. The score was 28-13, the exact same it had been a week earlier against Lehigh.
Lafayette had another big kickoff return, and moved the ball to the 25-yard line, where it faced a fourth-and-2 situation. McCourt found an open spot in zone coverage and caught a four-yard pass to continue the drive. A safety blitz by freshman Christopher Gueits forced a long fourth-down attempt, and another blitz by Gueits on the ensuing play caused a turnover on downs. Princeton moved the ball down to the Lafayette 28-yard line, but a fourth-down rush by Verbit was stopped two yards short, effectively ending the game.
Princeton returns home next Saturday night to open the 2003 Ivy League season against Columbia at 7 p.m. The game can be watched locally live on Patriot Media television and heard live on Moneytalk 1350 AM, WPRB 103.3 FM or GoPrincetonTigers.com.
NOTES - The last time Princeton played two consecutive games with the same score and same outcome was in 1945, when the Tigers defeated Cornell and Rutgers 14-6 in consecutive weeks; the next year, Princeton would split consecutive 14-7 games ... senior Blake Perry left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return ... Princeton has now played 17 consecutive games that it either had a 100-yard rusher and won or didn't have a 100-yard rusher and lost ... the Tigers have lost eight of 10 games to Patriot League opponents ... junior Nick Brown returned to the field after missing the Lehigh game with a shoulder injury; he made five tackles.