One thing is for sure after Saturday’s football game: This is not the same football team Princeton fans have been accustomed to for the past couple of seasons. The Tigers continued to prove themselves capable after dominating Brown 19-0 on Saturday for their third consecutive win of the season, giving the team its first winning record (3-2) since three games into the 2008 season and keeping the team undefeated in Ivy League play at 2-0.
The scoring started in the first quarter when sophomore left tackle Spencer Huston ran the ball 15 yards into the end zone to cap off an 80-yard scoring drive that began after the first missed Brown field goal of the season.
“This is my first touchdown at any level,” Huston said. “I was definitely excited, but I had the easiest job on the field. Connor threw the ball, we blocked it up perfectly, and when I caught the ball there was nothing but green grass in front of me, and it was just a walk-in. It was a good way to end a great drive by the team.”
Sophomore quarterback Connor Michelsen was sharp on that drive, completing four of his five pass attempts and adding a 16-yard run on third-and-5, after having a rough first couple of series.
“I have to start off games better than what I did this game,” Michelsen said. “I missed some open receivers. I have to feed them the ball. Once I got in the groove I started feeling more comfortable back there and we really started to get some drives going, and that’s where you can see that our tempo really helps us.”
After the defense held the Bears scoreless for the third straight possession, a trend that would not go away for the entire match, the Tigers had another long drive that resulted in a field goal to extend the lead to 10-0 at the start of the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Brown's special teams unit made a huge mental mistake by downing the kickoff at the 1-yard line. On the very first play of the resulting drive, a whole swarm of Princeton defenders caught up to Bears running back Mark Kachmer before he could leave the end zone, and senior defensive lineman Caraun Reid came away with the safety.
“I just got off the ball as fast as possible," Reid said. “That’s a great credit to the [special teams unit] who put the ball barely at the 1. We knew that we had to get there, and we were all hungry for it.”
The defenses dominated the rest of the first half, and the score at halftime saw the Tigers up 12-0.
After the Bears went three and out to start the second half, Princeton put together its third 70-plus yard drive of the game, capping it off with an 8-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback Will Powers to extend its lead to 19-0.
That score was the last of the game by either team as the defenses continued to dominate, including an interception for both freshman cornerback Anthony Gaffney and junior safety Phillip Bhaya, as well as a sack resulting in a forced fumble by senior defensive lineman Mike Catapano that was recovered by junior linebacker Alex Polofsky.
Coming into the game, Brown had at least one score in an Ivy League-record 162 games, a record the Tigers' defense was happy to force to come to an end in a game where it played almost flawlessly.
“We kept the focus on all game,” Reid said. “There wasn’t a moment where we had to worry about what we were doing. We were confident from the get-go. We were playing with a bit of an extra oomph today, which is great, and that’s what we need to do.”
This was a much different result for Princeton than last year's game against Brown, in which the Tigers struggled in every aspect and lost 34-0 in Providence.
“I don’t know how we got shut out last year. It was just disappointing," Reid said. "This year there’s no disappointment; there’s just this optimism because we know that we can even do better.”
Head coach Bob Surace ’90 was impressed with the way the offense played but was quick to point out some areas that could see improvement.
“We did some good things, but I do think they got us some," Surace said. “We had a lot of negative plays. We have to correct that. There were some communication errors at times.”
Princeton takes on Harvard, one of the three remaining undefeated teams in Ivy League play, next Saturday at 1 p.m. in a match that may be close for the first time in a while. A win would put Princeton in great position for the Ivy League title.
“I believe that we sent a message, a very physical message, to these other teams in the league," Reid said. “We beat Columbia last year, so after that game it was like OK, great, but we had teams that we hadn’t beat yet in my four years here. This is all like a big checklist. We beat Brown — now we’re going to beat Harvard. We’re going for it, and I feel like we sent that message today.”
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Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/13/31496/