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After three dramatic comeback road wins en route to the 2013 Ivy League championship, the Princeton football team fell short of a magical fourth and a perfect Ivy season. Despite rallying from a 21-point deficit, Princeton fell 28-24 at Dartmouth and concludes its 2013 season with an 8-2 record, as well as a share of its 10th Ivy League title.
The Tigers trailed 21-0 after a five-yard touchdown run by Dalyn Williams in the second quarter, but the Tigers were back within seven at the break after a five-yard touchdown pass from Quinn Epperly to Roman Wilson, and a one-yard score on fourth down by Epperly.
Princeton evened the score on a drive that saw the Tigers convert on a pair of fourth downs. Those two short gains set up a 30-yard strike from Epperly to Matt Costello, who both drew a pass interference call and pulled the ball down between two defenders.
Several times this season, the Tigers were able to rally from deficits and never look back. Dartmouth never let the Tigers grab a lead, though; Williams kept on an option and scored from 17 yards out with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Big Green turned it over to its defense, and it kept Princeton out of the end zone. The Tigers deepest drive ended inside the Dartmouth 10 with a 23-yard field goal from Nolan Bieck with 6:36 left in the game. The Tiger defense forced a quick punt, and the offense got to the Big Green 47, but back-to-back incompletions left Princeton with a 4th-and-7.
Princeton punted to the Dartmouth 10, and Williams hit a quick 37-yard run to open the drive and force the Tigers to use their timeouts. Princeton did get a stop at its own 20, but it was left with 80 yards to go, zero timeouts and a snow-covered field to deal with.
Epperly’s final deep attempt was picked off, ending the Tigers’ hopes for a first perfect Ivy season since 1964.
The loss, combined with Harvard’s victory over Yale, means both Princeton and Harvard will share the 2013 Ivy League title with matching 6-1 Ivy records. In the lone meeting between the two, Princeton defeated the Crimson 51-48 in a triple-overtime thriller.
Epperly completed 26 of 53 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns; he matched Doug Butler’s record for single-season passing touchdowns with 25, and he came within one of Keith Elias’ single-season rushing touchdown record (19).
Junior Seth DeValve caught nine passes for a career-best 115 yards, while Wilson had seven catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. Connor Kelley had five catches for 35 yards, while Costello had four for 44 yards and a score.
The running game, which played without injured starter DiAndre Atwater, was held in check by a strong Dartmouth defense. Epperly ran 20 times for 41 yards and a score, while Mills had eight carries for 30 yards.
Senior Caraun Reid capped an All-America career with seven tackles, including four for losses, and three sacks, while both Jason Ray and Matt Arends had seven tackles apiece. Both Arends and John Hill had interceptions for Princeton, while Mike Zeuli and Elijah Mitchell both recorded a sack.
The loss was a disappointing end to a brilliant season for the entire squad, which broke the Ivy League scoring record and saw several players move into the Princeton record books. More than the individual performances, though, the season will be remembered for the incredible turnaround led by the Class of 2013. In its first three seasons, this class combined for only seven wins.
During their final year, they won eight and will graduate as Ivy League champions.