The football team suffered an agonizing 21-20 defeat to Georgetown (3-1) Friday night, dropping its record to 0-2. The game was closer than expected, with Princeton leading for a majority of the game, but three missed field goals and penalties proved to be too much for the Tigers to overcome.
The Hoyas started the game off strong by easily marching down deep into Princeton's territory. The Tigers' defense came up big in the red zone, however, to hold the Hoyas to a field goal and three points.
The Tigers immediately responded with an impressive drive of their own that included a 34-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Connor Michelsen to junior wide receiver Roman Wilson. Despite the momentum, the drive stalled at the Georgetown 10-yard line, and Princeton had to go for the field goal. What looked like a fake was really a mishandled snap. The holder, senior wide receiver Tom Moak, reacted quickly to the broken-down play, however, and threw the ball to senior tight end Mark Hayes for a touchdown. While the play resulted in a touchdown, it was a sign of bad things to come from the Tigers' kicking unit.
Princeton used that momentum to then immediately hold the Hoyas to a three-and-out and then immediately drive down the field on its second possession to score again, this time via a 2-yard run by sophomore tailback Will Powers, the first of his Princeton career.
After scoring a field goal to decrease the Tigers' lead to eight, the Hoyas' defense scored on the Tigers following possession when a bad snap ended up in the end zone where it was recovered by Georgetown cornerback Jeremy Moore for a touchdown.
“It looked like a tough snap; I’ll have to see it on film,” head coach Bob Surace ’90 said. “The thing is a veteran group keeps a safety there. You can’t allow a touchdown there, and we didn’t do it. We’re going to have to work on that. Young guys, they try to do too much sometimes. They try to make more of something, and that’s a good learning lesson for that young guy.”
Fortunately for Princeton, a penalty by the Hoyas was enforced on the extra point, so Georgetown had to go for the extra point rather than try to tie the game up with a two-point conversion attempt. Furthermore, the extra point was blocked, and after a missed 42-yard field goal by freshman kicker Nolan Bieck, the Tigers went into halftime with a 14-12 lead.
Things continued to go downhill for the Tigers at the start of the second half, with Princeton's 36-yard drive resulting in zero points after another missed field goal, this one from 49 yards out.
After a few drives by both teams resulting in nothing, the Hoyas were finally able to reclaim the lead with a 7-yard rushing touchdown from tailback Nick Campanella. The Tigers were able to stop the Georgetown two-point conversion attempt, holding the Hoyas' lead at four, at 18-14.
Princeton immediately responded when freshman running back DiAndre Atwater, who had been the primary tailback for the Tigers since the start of the second half, took off for a 53-yard touchdown run to start off the fourth quarter. The Princeton kicking unit faltered yet again on the extra point, as the kick was low enough to be blocked, a mistake that would prove costly for the Tigers.
Atwater ended the game with 92 yards and a touchdown. He could have had a much bigger game as two plays totaling about 75 yards were called back due to Tiger penalties.
“We’ve been excited about DiAndre,” Surace said. “[Senior tailback] Akil [Sharp] went down with an injury, [sophomore tailback] Will [Powers] went down with an injury, and then DiAndre’s turn was called. He ran real well. Unfortunately, he had about 100 yards called back, but he really gave us a spark.”
“I was really excited, especially because my brother was on the other team,” Atwater said. (Stephen Atwater is a defensive back with the Hoyas.) “But I mean, I just tried to keep doing what I knew I had to do best — work hard. We’ve been working real hard in practice and camp, and I’m just excited to get out there on the field and show what I can do. But a lot of it was the linemen; I can’t just take credit for that. A big part of that was them.”
After some more back and forth between the two teams, including a 35-yard missed field goal by the Tigers, Georgetown managed to orchestrate a 15-play, 72-yard drive that resulted in a 33-yard field goal, which gave the Hoyas a one-point lead and left Princeton with only 14 seconds to try to score, a task that proved to be too much for the Tigers, barring a miracle.
“I put him in an adverse situation,” Surace said of Bieck. “We lost trust because we didn’t snap the ball right. Once we lost trust, we lost technique.”
The Tigers will now have to try to rebound from this tough loss by traveling to New York to take on Columbia in the team’s Ivy League opener next Saturday.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/22/31198/