Princeton (3-2 overall, 2-0 Ivy League) started a series of six Ivy League games with a 27-16 home victory over Brown (2-3, 0-2) on Saturday, leaving them tied atop the Ivy League standings with Harvard and Dartmouth with an undefeated 2-0 league record. They improve to 3-2 overall with the win.
After a touchdown on the opening kickoff return against Colgate last week, the Tigers started strong again on Saturday, with junior cornerback Anthony Gaffney almost forcing a fumble on the opening Brown possession and the Tiger defense holding the Bears offense to one first down in the entire first quarter, giving the offense more than enough time to capitalize on a rhythm that remained intact, despite the absence of two starters: senior quarterback Quinn Epperly and junior running back DiAndre Atwater.
Senior quarterback Connor Michelsen took Epperly’s place under center and completed 33 of 45 attempts for 367 yards and two touchdowns. From the beginning, he targeted senior wideouts Seth DeValve and Matt Costello, who had 10 receptions for 120 yards and eight receptions for 121 yards, respectively. Two of Costello’s catches were for touchdowns, one of which came off of Michelsen’s game-long 49-yard pass on a three-play, 52-second drive — the type of quick, efficient drive that has come to characterize the Tiger offense.
“All you can ever ask for is an opportunity, and when you get an opportunity you have to take advantage of it,” Michelsen said. “You just have to execute when your number’s called.”
Senior tailback Will Powers started in the backfield in place of Atwater, leading the Tigers with 13 rushes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Powers has found the end zone in each of the past four games.
“The beauty of some of the things with our offense [is that] we’ve got a lot of guys playing on any given week, and when we have some guys out it tightens down just a little that way, but these guys, any time we give them any type of role they just step up to the challenge,” head coach Bob Surace ’90 said.
The Tigers led 17-0 after the first quarter and came out to score on the first drive of the second, despite a defensive penalty and 12 men on the field during their scoring play, to bring the score to 24-0 in favor of the Tigers early in the second quarter.
After only having one first down — as compared to Princeton’s 12 in the first quarter — Brown was able to reach the red zone for the first time with a 70-yard pass a little over two minutes into the second quarter. However, the Bears could not capitalize on their field position and had to settle for a field goal.
The Tiger offense seemed to have all the momentum in the first quarter, but they collapsed slightly in the second quarter, scoring only the early touchdown. Meanwhile, the Tiger defense allowed passes of 70 yards and 42 yards on consecutive drives that could have indicated a collapse reminiscent of the past week's against Colgate. However, they were able to tighten up their red-zone defense and hold the Bears to two field goals, going into halftime with a 24-6 lead.
The second half featured a field goal by junior kicker Nolan Bieck, who remains perfect in extra points and field goals for the season, and another field goal for Brown. The final scoring play of the game came after a targeting call on sophomore linebacker Rohan Hylton removed him from the game and moved Brown to the 20-yard line. The Bears would score on the next play but would not be able to make up the early deficit for a victory. They attempted 71 passes in the effort, 18 shy of the Division I record of 89 attempts set by Washington State.
“We just have to learn from our mistakes,” junior safety Matt Arends said. “We played a lot better this week than we have in the past weeks. They threw 71 times, and there are going to be breaks when they’re throwing that many times, but overall we are as a unit coming closer together as the season is advancing, so next week we just got to keep improving, and I think we’ll be fine.”
Junior defensive backs Khamal Brown and Andrew Frisby each added an interception for the Tigers, while Hylton led the team with nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss. Arends had eight tackles, and senior linebacker Mike Zeuli added seven, including half a sack and a tackle for loss.
The Tigers look to continue their streak of Ivy League wins next Saturday when they host Harvard at 1 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN3.