December 14, 2005: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
Princeton’s hopes for a share of the Ivy League football title — and the first H-Y-P bonfire in more than a decade — looked solid in the first half against Yale Nov. 12 as quarterback Jeff Terrell ’07 dissected the Bulldogs’ zone defense, spurring the Tigers to a 14–0 lead. But Yale took advantage of a rapid crescendo of Princeton miscues in the fourth quarter to claim an improbable 21–14 comeback victory in front of a stunned crowd of 18,265 at Princeton Stadium.
The Tigers would rebound in the season finale at Dartmouth Nov. 19, dismantling the Big Green 30–0 to finish 7–3 overall and 5–2 against the Ivies, the program’s best marks in 10 years. With wins over Harvard and Penn on the road and a tie for second place in the league, Princeton outpaced preseason forecasts. But the team will forever be linked with the promise and disappointment of the Yale game.
Princeton’s defense held Yale scoreless through most of the third quarter before the Bulldogs capitalized on an interception and pieced together a 25-yard touchdown drive. Princeton’s next three possessions ended with another interception, a punt, and a fumble, in that order, giving Yale the ball in Princeton territory twice. The defense held.
When Yale returned the Tigers’ next punt to the Princeton 36-yard line, the Bulldogs’ offense found limited success. On Yale’s final chance to score, a fourth-and-goal play at the Tigers’ 10-yard line, quarterback Jeff Mroz passed to a sliding Todd Feiereisen in the end zone. With the extra point, Yale tied the score at 14–14 with 1:14 remaining.
The Tigers tried to work their way into position for a winning field goal attempt, with Terrell completing an 8-yard pass to Brian Shields ’07 on the drive’s first play. As Shields turned to run, Yale’s Brendan Sponheimer popped the ball loose with a jarring tackle. Linebacker Bobby Abare snatched the ball out of the air and sprinted down the sideline to the Princeton 1-yard line. Three plays later, Mroz ducked his head and pushed over the goal line for the decisive touchdown.
Princeton turned the ball over seven times (five interceptions and two fumbles), with all but one coming in the second half. It was an uncharacteristic performance, head coach Roger Hughes said after the game. “I told the team ahead of time that turnover ratio was going to be crucial,” he said, “and clearly it was.”
Talk of a bonfire had drawn an impressive number of students to the stadium, but it also fueled the visiting team. “We saw the [Daily Princetonian] articles, and they weren’t really giving us a shot,” said Mroz, the Yale quarterback, whose brother Greg ’07 is a backup quarterback for Princeton. “We brought our hoses down, [and] we put their fire out.”
After the Yale loss, Hughes said the Dartmouth game would be a test of character, and Princeton passed with high marks, recording its first shutout win since 1999. Jay McCareins ’06 returned a missed field goal 100 yards for a touchdown, his fifth score of the season on defense or special teams. He also intercepted his ninth pass to lead all NCAA Division I-AA defenders.
After a one-year absence, Princeton field hockey returned to the NCAA Championships Nov. 12, hosting fourth-ranked Duke in the opening round. Co-captain Lauren Ehrlichman ’06, foreground, and the Tigers led early and forced overtime. In the first extra period, an apparent game-winning goal by Paige Schmidt ’08 was disallowed because officials ruled it was not touched by a Princeton player within the goal circle. Duke scored the decisive goal with 1:27 left in the second overtime period to win 2–1. Princeton, the Ivy League champion, was 7–0 in league play and 9–9 overall.
For a few brief moments in the opener for men’s basketball against Drexel Nov. 14, Princeton’s young cast appeared ready for prime time, knocking down three three-pointers, one long jump shot, and a backdoor layup en route to a 13-5 lead. But the Tigers’ advantage disappeared amid cold shooting, foul trouble, and ineffective rebounding, and Drexel rolled to a 54–41 win in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Jadwin Gym.
The rebounding totals — 46 for Drexel, 17 for Princeton — told the story of the game. Drexel took advantage of second chances on offense and dominated the game’s inside scoring. Princeton had a few bright spots, including five three-pointers from Noah Savage ’08, but the Tigers’ centers and forwards scored just one basket from the post. “To come out here and show basically no aggressiveness and no physicality is disappointing,” said Scott Greenman ’06, Princeton’s captain. “I think we kind of got hit in the face today.”
Head coach Joe Scott ’87 used a 10-player rotation that included two freshmen and four sophomores, and he said inexperience may have been to blame for his team’s tentative, perimeter-oriented offense. “I do think it’s the sign of a young team,” Scott said. “But we have to learn from this and grow up real quickly, because we don’t have any easy games.”
After 40 consecutive losses, sprint football beat VMI Oct. 29. (Courtesy Jane Carr ’00)The sprint football team finally had a reason to sing. On Oct. 29, Princeton ended its 40-game losing streak by beating the Virginia Military Institute 19–7 in Lexington, Va. After the game was over and the Tigers had shaken hands with their opponents, they lined up on the field and brandished their helmets in the air while bellowing the chorus from “The Princeton Cannon Song”: “Crash through the line of blue, and send the backs on ’round the end. Fight, fight, for every yard, Princeton’s honor to defend.”
“It was fantastic,” assistant coach Ralph Wright ’88 said. “It’s a big monkey off our back.”
During the game itself, it was a line of VMI red (not the blue of the song’s refrain) that the Tigers crashed through. Senior Frank Langston ran for two touchdowns, including the first score of the game right before halftime.
In the third quarter, sophomore quarterback Alex Kandabarow hit classmate Lon Johnson with a deep pass down the right sideline. Johnson fought off two defenders on his way to the end zone on a 53-yard touchdown play.
VMI, a club team in its first year of competition, is not a member of the Collegiate Sprint Football League, but that didn’t make the win any less sweet. “I know last year’s seniors played all four years without getting a win,” Kandabarow said. “I’m just really glad the seniors on this team were able to get a win. It’s really a big deal for everybody.”
The game was also the first win in orange and black for head coach Bill Hickey, who is in his third season at Princeton. The team’s last win was in 1999, when current assistant coach Christian Gomez ’03, then a freshman, sealed the victory over Cornell with a late interception.
After beating VMI, players, coaches, and parents lingered on the field, savoring the moment. Said defensive back Andrew Lapetina ’07, still beaming: “I don’t want to leave.”
By David Mordkoff ’01
David Mordkoff ’01 is a law student and freelance writer in Charlottesville, Va.
WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY won the Middle Atlantic Regional meet in Bethlehem, Pa., Nov. 12, placing five runners in the top 22 and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Cack Ferrell ’06 won the individual title, reaching the finish line nearly 15 seconds ahead of the second-place runner. In MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY, Frank Macreery ’06 and David Nightingale ’08 finished fifth and sixth, respectively, at the regional meet to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The Tigers placed third in the team standings.
WOMEN’S SOCCER closed the year with five consecutive wins, including victories over Cornell Oct. 29, Columbia Nov. 1, and Penn Nov. 5, to finish in a two-way tie for second place in the Ivy League. MEN’S SOCCER lost to Yale 1–0 on Nov. 12, snapping a three-game winning streak in Ivy games.
Despite four goals by John Stover ’06, MEN’S WATER POLO dropped a 10–8 decision to Navy in the final game of the Southern Championships Oct. 30. The Tigers lost to St. Francis (N.Y.) in the semifinals of the Eastern Championships Nov. 12 after beating Harvard in the opening round.