Football Friday: Bob Surace Reflects On Harvard Thriller, Previews Cornell
Head coach Bob Surace reflects on several areas of Saturday's 51-48 triple-overtime win over Harvard, and he looks ahead to playing Cornell and the all-time Ivy League passing champion. Video can be seen by hitting the play link in the photo.
The last play of a two-game Princeton road trip went a little like this: Quinn Epperly took the shotgun snap, saw that his primary receiver was knocked off his route by a linebacker, and went to his secondary receiver for a six-yard gain.
Of course, you could also say that Quinn Epperly threw his Ivy League record sixth touchdown pass to Roman Wilson in triple overtime to complete a 51-48 victory over Harvard, ending a 15-game home win streak for the Crimson and keeping Princeton in a tie for first in the Ivy League.
Those in attendance for last season’s magical 39-34 comeback win over Harvard may remember that it was the same Epperly-to-Wilson connection that clinched that win as well. Both years, Princeton left the Harvard game unbeaten in the league and atop the standings.
Now is when Princeton hopes to change history. And it will try to do that against somebody who has made Ivy League history throughout his brilliant four years at Cornell.
Big Red senior quarterback Jeff Mathews has thrown for an Ivy League record 10,417 yards in his career. He is a perfect 3-0 against Princeton, and he has thrown for just short of 1,000 yards against the Tigers.
Princeton has had no success stopping Mathews, especially during a 37-35 Cornell win last season. But this is a new Tiger team with a new resolve; it has won three straight games that it trailed, including once in overtime (last week) and once by 17 points (two weeks ago at Brown).
The Ivy League’s top scoring offense faces the league’s all-time passing leader in a game that could light up the scoreboard.
The Tigers just hope it doesn’t alter the league standings.
|Cornell Big Red (1-5, 0-3 Ivy) at Princeton Tigers (5-1, 3-0 Ivy)
|Game Time/Location||1 pm • Powers Field at Princeton Stadium • Tickets|
|Game Coverage||ESPN3 l Radio l Live Stats l @PUTigers|
|All-Time Series||Princeton leads 57-36-2|
|Last Year||CORNELL 37, Princeton 35|
|Last At Site||Cornell 24, PRINCETON 7 (2011)|
|Last Five Years||Cornell leads 3-2|
|Last Princeton Road Win||PRINCETON 17, Cornell 13 (2009)|
|Current Streak||Cornell 3|
|Princeton||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|Cornell||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
A Princeton Win Would …
• give Princeton its first six-game win streak since the 2006 Ivy championship season
• keep Princeton in at least a share of first place going into the final three weeks of 2013
• be Princeton’s first victory over Cornell since a 17-13 win in 2009
• assure Princeton its first winning season and its first winning home record since 2006
• be Princeton’s 11th win in its last 15 games
WEEK 7 GAME NOTESLights, Camera, Action
Princeton will play its second game on ESPN3 this Saturday when it hosts Cornell at 1 pm. Dave Popkin and K.C. Keeler will call the action.
Princeton will also be on ESPN3 in its home finale against Yale on Nov. 16, and it will be on the Ivy League Digital Network in games at Penn and Dartmouth.
The last two times that Princeton has started an Ivy League season 3-0 was 2006 and 2012. In both seasons, Princeton lost its next game to Cornell, including the 37-35 road loss at Schoellkopf Field last year. Princeton hasn’t won its first four Ivy League games since the 1995 season, when the Tigers won their last outright Ivy League title with a 5-1-1 record.
Princeton is looking for its sixth straight win of the season Saturday, something it has not done since the 2006 Ivy League championship season. It is also looking to clinch its first winning record since the 9-1 2006 season, as well as its first winning record at home since 2006.
Princeton leads the Ivy League and ranks third nationally in scoring offense with 43.8 points per game. The Tigers have scored at least 50 points in three of their last five games; the last time Princeton scored 50 points in at least three games was during the 1951 season, when senior Dick Kazmaier was honored with the Heisman Trophy. Kazmaier, who passed away August 1, 2013, will be honored at halftime today.
The program single-season scoring record was set in 1950, when Kazmaier led the Tigers to a national championship and helped Princeton average 38.8 points per game. For the Tigers to break that record, they need to average 31.5 points per game during the next four weeks.
Eight of the last nine Princeton-Cornell games have been decided by seven points or fewer. The only one that didn’t was the most recent game on Powers Field, a 24-7 Cornell win during the 2011 season. The other eight have been decided by an average of 3.4 points per game.
Princeton has trailed in each of its last three games, including once in overtime last week at Harvard and once by 17 points at Brown two weeks ago.
Princeton junior quarterback Quinn Epperly was named The Sports Network National
Offensive Player of the Week after completing 37 of 50 passes for 321 yards and six touchdowns last weekend. His 37 completions and six touchdown passes were both Princeton single-game
records, and the six touchdown passes matched an Ivy League record held by former Brown quarterback and current Princeton offensive coordinator James Perry.
Epperly was also named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week; he has won the honor after all three of Princeton’s Ivy games this season. The only active player in the Ivy League who has won more Offensive Player of the Week honors in his career is Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews (4).
Just Quinn, Baby
Quinn Epperly ranks second in the nation in points responsible for per game (26.7). He is the only player in all of FCS football with double-digit rushing and passing touchdowns this season, and he is the only player in Princeton history with more than 10 touchdowns in both categories in a single season.
Epperly leads the Ivy League in rushing touchdowns (11), pass efficiency (174.8) and completion percentage (70.5%). His 15 passing touchdowns are one behind Cornell’s Jeff Mathews for the league lead, and they are tied for fifth in Princeton history for single-season touchdown passes; he shares that mark with 1951 Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier, who passed away Aug. 1 and will be honored at halftime Saturday.
Quinn Epperly has jumped into the Top 10 in several FCS statistical categories:
• He ranks second nationally in points responsible for per game (26.7)
• He ranks third nationally in completion percentage (70.5%)
• He ranks third nationally in passing efficiency (174.8)
• He ranks seventh nationally in scoring per game (11.0) -- that total is for his 11 rush TDs only
• He is the only player in all of FCS with double-digit rushing and passing TDs this season
The Catch, Part 2
For the second straight season, Quinn Epperly hit Roman Wilson for the game-winning touchdown in a victory over Harvard. In 2012, Epperly found Wilson from 36 yards out with 13 seconds remaining in a 39-34 home win. Last weekend, Epperly hit Wilson for a six-yard score in triple-overtime to finish a 51-48 victory
The win was Princeton’s first victory over a ranked program since Week 4 of the 2007 season, when the Tigers defeated No. 22 Lafayette 20-14. It also ended Harvard’s 15-game home win streak.
Princeton has had eight players catch at least 100 passes in their career, and it could put two more players on that list today. Junior Matt Costello has 93 receptions in his career, while senior Roman Wilson has 91. The duo combined for 18 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns last weekend at Harvard.
Wilson is currently ranked second in the Ivy League in both receptions per game (8.5) and receiving yards per game (105.2). In both cases, he trails only Cornell senior Grant Gellatly.
Wilson, who caught six passes for 162 yards last season at Cornell, also has two rushing TDs this season, including one on a nine-yard reverse to force a second overtime in the victory over Harvard.
Princeton leads the Ivy League in scoring offense (43.8), rushing offense (239.7) and total offense (534.2); the Tigers trail only Cornell in passing offense (294.5).
Princeton has not finished a season leading the Ivy League in both overall scoring and scoring in league games since 1965. The Tigers last led the Ivy League in overall scoring in 1988, and it last led in scoring in Ivy games in 1989.
Despite leading the Ivy League in rushing by more than 16 yards per game, Princeton doesn’t have a single individual runner in the Ivy Top 5. Sophomore DiAndre Atwater ranks sixth in the league in rushing (63.8), while Quinn Epperly ranks eighth (58.8).
All four of Princeton’s top running backs (Atwater, Brian Mills, Will Powers and Dré Nelson) average more than five yards per carry, as does Epperly. All four backs have rushed for at least one score during Princeton’s five-game win streak.
Mr. Smith Goes To The End Zone
Senior tight end Des Smith had scored one career touchdown heading into the Lafayette game three weeks ago. Since then, he has caught a touchdown pass in three straight wins, and he caught two-point conversion passes in both the Lafayette and Harvard victories.
Line Them Up
Much of the success of the offense this season has come from the experienced group up front, which includes three upperclassmen who have started at least 20 games in their careers.
Senior center Joe Goss will be making his 34th career start this weekend, while both left tackle Spenser Huston and right guard Max Coale will both be making their 20th straight starts.
The offensive line held Harvard and potential Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Zach Hodges without a sack last weekend. Princeton ranks ninth nationally in sacks allowed (.67 per game).
Senior wideout Roman Wilson has scored at least one touchdown in nine of Princeton’s last 11 games, including the first four games this season. He was held out of the end zone in regulation last week, but he scored both of Princeton’s overtime touchdowns. Following his nine-yard reverse to force a second overtime, he caught the game-winning six-yard touchdown in the third session.
Wilson’s 12 career receiving touchdowns ranks fourth at Princeton; he is one behind Kevin Duffy ’97 for third and four behind Kevin Guthrie ’84 for second.
Junior Connor Kelley, who played quarterback as a freshman during Bob Surace’s first season and missed nearly the entire 2011 season due to a knee injury, has played his best football over the last three weeks. He caught eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown against Lafayette, and his diving 29-yard catch on 4th-and-5 late in the third quarter set up a touchdown pass to Des Smith. At Brown, Kelley had one of the biggest catches of the season, a 24-yard grab on 3rd and 17 from the Princeton 4 to ignite the Tigers’ first scoring drive of the game.
Kelley had his first multiple-touchdown day of the season last weekend; he caught a pair of five-yard touchdown passes in the first half of the 51-48 win over Harvard.
Junior quarterback Connor Michelsen was held out of the Harvard game to recover from injuries, and he is expected to be available this weekend. He posted career numbers last year at Cornell, completing 29 of 35 passes for 390 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown strike to Roman Wilson.
Princeton leads the Ivy League in both third-down conversion percentage (44.3%) and third-down conversion defense (28.9%). The defensive percentage is the fourth-best total in the FCS.
Princeton had a season-best seven sacks last week against Harvard, including two from leading tackler Mike Zeuli, who had 13 stops in the game. Zeuli is ranked fifth in the Ivy League with 9.0 tackles per game.
Ray Of Light
Senior Jason Ray had a career effort against Harvard, recording 12 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss in the overtime win. Ray made his first career appearance on the Ivy League Honor Roll following his performance.
Corner The Market
Both of Princeton’s starting cornerbacks, Anthony Gaffney and John Hill, have recorded interceptions over the last three weeks. Hill ranks second in the league with 1.2 passes defensed per game, while Gaffney was a first-team All-Ivy League cornerback his freshman season. Both will be challenged this weekend by the Cornell pass offense, which leads the league with 350.2 yards per game.
Gaffney recorded eight solo tackles, including two for loss, and two pass breakups against Cornell last season.
Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews enters the weekend with the all-time Ivy League passing record, which currently stands at 10,417. Mathews is 3-0 all-time against Princeton and has thrown for 992 yards in three games. Last season, he completed 36 of 52 passes for 523 yards and four scores.
In his lone game at Princeton Stadium, Mathews threw for 224 yards in a game that was strongly affected by a nor’easter, which left Powers Field snow-covered.
Shut The Dor-ian
Freshman cornerback Dorian Williams was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after
recording a team-high eight tackles and forcing a fumble in Princeton’s 39-17 victory over Brown. Williams leads all Princeton freshmen and ranks sixth on the team with 20 tackles, but he is second on the team in both breakups (two) and tackles for loss (2.5).
Leicht It Up
Junior middle linebacker Garrit Leicht, who missed the first half of last season because of injury, has recorded 20 tackles in the last three games.
Senior safety and co-captain Phillip Bhaya leads Princeton with two interceptions this season, including one last weekend. He is tied with Jason Ray for second on the team with 41 tackles, including 10 from the victory over Harvard.
Princeton is 4-0 this season in games when it has at least a +1 advantage in turnovers, and it is 8-4 during the tenure of Bob Surace. Over the same stretch, the Tigers are 2-16 in games when it is -1 or worse in the turnover margin.
During the game at Cornell last year, Princeton committed four turnovers in the 37-35 loss.
Just For Kicks
Princeton placekicker Nolan Bieck has made three of four field goals in the last four games, including a career-long 40-yarder in the win over Lafayette three weeks ago. Last weekend, he made a pair of pressure-packed kicks in overtime; following his extra point that forced a second session, he made a 31-yard field goal to open the second overtime.
The Crystal Ball
After two long road trips to Providence and Boston over the last couple of weeks, Princeton will have a much shorter road trip next week. Princeton will head to reigning Ivy League champion and preseason favorite Penn for a noon start at Franklin Field. The game will be available on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Penn comes into this weekend sharing first place with Princeton at 3-0 in league play. The Quakers travel to Providence Saturday for a 12:30 pm game on Fox College Sports.
Penn has won six straight games in this series, and it has allowed only one touchdown to
Princeton in the last 12 quarters on Franklin Field.
Honoring Princeton’s Greatest
This season, Princeton players are wearing a sticker with the number 42 on their helmets, and the number has been painted on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. That number, the only one retired by the Princeton football team, belonged to 1951 Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier, who is recognized as the greatest player in program history.
Kazmaier, who led Princeton to the 1950 national championship and back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1950 and 1951, passed away on Aug. 1, 2013.
“My admiration for Dick Kazmaier goes well beyond the respect earned by his being the greatest football player in the unmatched history of our Princeton program,” head coach Bob Surace ’90 said. “Whenever I talk to our team about Dick Kazmaier, it is not about the Heisman, the undefeated seasons, statues or awards. It is about the traits that Dick shared with me in every communication we had, the qualities that make up the ideal Princeton man — character, dignity, strength, intelligence, humility, unselfishness, commitment and passion to be exceptional in every area of life.
“I will cherish the friendship, support and mentorship that I am fortunate to have with Dick Kazmaier and will pass these values along to our future Tigers,” Surace added.
The Ivy League® Digital Network is the Ivy League’s first-ever digital sports network at IvyLeagueDigitalNetwork.com.
Featuring live and on-demand video and audio content from home and away contests across a variety of sports, the nine-channel network features a channel for each of the eight schools and a League-wide channel showcasing all available digital content across the conference.
Powered by NeuLion, The Ivy League® Digital Network includes an easy-to-navigate interface, a League-wide network schedule and new interactive features, such as simultaneous four-game viewing, full DVR controls and social media integration. These new features enhance the viewing experience for the expanded range of events and other content offerings, all of which are available on computer, mobile and tablet devices, all without the use of an app.
Packages for the League-wide channel are $119.95 for 12 months, $49.95 for four months and $15.95 for one month and include multi-camera HD coverage of all available home and select away games in football and men’s and women’s basketball and selected home and away games in men’s and women’s ice hockey. Every available Ivy League contest in those sports will be shown on the network. Packages for the school-specific channels, which feature live and on-demand video and audio content from available home and away contests across a variety of sports, are $89.95 for 12 months, $39.95 for four months, $10.95 for one month and $9.95 for a single day.
On The Inside
“Inside Ivy League Football,” a weekly online radio show dedicated to Ivy League football, returns for its third year for the 2013 season but now has a new home on The Ivy League® Digital Network.
Airing Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and hosted by Princeton radio commentator Dan Loney and Brian Seltzer, “Inside Ivy League Football” takes an in-depth look at all the on-field gridiron action and all the news and notes surrounding football in the Ancient Eight.
Each episode is packed with highlights, statistics and expert analysis in its ‘Around the Ancient Eight’ segment. With its interview segments ‘Program Profile’ and ‘Alumni Spotlight,’ the show visits with players, coaches and administrators who impact Ivy League football, both past and present in exclusive one-on-one conversations.
Fans and alumni can engage with the show via Facebook (facebook.com/InsideIvyLeagueFootball) and Twitter (@insideivyfb, #IvyFootball) and contribute content for its ‘Social Media Mash’ segment with chances to win prize packs courtesy of The Ivy League.
Check IvyLeagueSports.com each week for this season’s episode schedule and guest lineups.