POSTGAME AUDIO: Bob Surace
In the worst conditions seen in the 14 years of Princeton Stadium, the Tiger football teams struggled with both penalties and turnovers in a 24-7 home loss to Cornell.
Freshman Chuck Dibilio broke his own freshman single-game rushing record with 158 yards and added a 19-yard touchdown reception, but those would not be enough to earn Princeton its second Ivy League win of the season. The Tigers led for only 14 seconds in the game, as Dibilio's touchdown was followed by a 78-yard kickoff return by Rashad Campbell that gave Cornell the lead for good.
Princeton outrushed Cornell 230-79, and all of its positive rushing yards came from a pair of promising freshmen. Dibilio moved his season total to 694 rushing yards, the third-highest season total in a decade at Princeton, while freshman quarterback Quinn Epperly ran the ball 16 times for 96 yards. Epperly, as he did last week, planned to play during the second quarter Saturday. He ended up playing far more, as starter Tommy Wornham went down with a hand injury early in the third quarter and did not return.
Head coach Bob Surace reported shortly after the game (following the attached audio clip) that x-rays came back negative on Wornham's hand, and he was hopeful that his senior starter would be available for next Saturday's game against Penn at Franklin Field.
Epperly had the high and low moments you'd expect from a talented freshman. He had several impressive runs, including a 21-yarder, and he completed four passes for 50 yards, but he also turned the ball over three times, including once on a run inside the Cornell 5. The ball bounced into the end zone and was recovered by Cornell for a touchback.
That play could have given Princeton a 14-10 lead, but Cornell took advantage and scored the next 14 points with two long drives in the second half, after the weather improved somewhat. Jeff Mathews, the Ivy League's leading passer, completed 19 of 28 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown, while running back Ryan Houska ran the ball 26 times for 108 yards and a touchdown.
The Princeton defense played well throughout the first half and much of the third quarter, but the Cornell offense finally found a rhythm and was able to break the game open. Junior linebacker Andrew Starks led Princeton with 11 tackles, including one for a loss, while Steven Cody added six tackles. Brandon Glyck recorded a sack, while Khamal Brown had a pass breakup. Three players had a quarterback hurry, including Caraun Reid, who ended the game with five tackles.
After the game, Surace lamented the disappointing penalties on special teams, which cost Princeton valuable field position in the second half. There was one bright spot in the special teams, though; freshman Will Powers blocked a first-half punt that led to Dibilio's fifth touchdown of the season. It was Princeton's first blocked punt since Justin Stull did it in a 2005 game at Penn.
The Quakers, who will be coming off their first Ivy League loss since 2008 next weekend, have won four straight over Princeton, including a 52-7 victory at Princeton Stadium last season.