This Friday night the Princeton football team will take on Harvard under the lights in Cambridge, Mass. Both Princeton and Harvard have a conference record featuring one loss, making this week’s game a must-win in the race for the Ivy League title.
The Harvard Crimson has won all 14 previous night games played at Harvard Stadium, but it’s safe to say this nighttime matchup will be different from those previous ones. For starters, Friday’s game will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network. Tiger fans can also tune in online and on the NBC Sports App.
Even if it weren’t going to be on TV across the country, this game would still be a critical showdown in the battle for the Ivy League championship. Harvard is just 3–2 overall and 1–1 in Ivy play so far this season. After falling to Cornell, the Crimson bounced back, posting a 38–10 win over Lafayette last weekend that featured two scores by the special team’s unit. The rushing attack was led by Charlie Booker, who posted a career-high 159 yards.
Even after defeating Brown 53–0, the team is no doubt looking for another big road win against an Ivy League foe. Junior running back Charlie Volker is coming off a career weekend in which he had four rushing touchdowns and set a new Princeton record for longest rushing score, a 96-yard run in the second quarter against the Bears.
Senior defensive lineman Kurt Holuba will be looking to add to an already impressive season. Holuba had a remarkable game against Harvard last year, a 20–23 overtime loss for the Tigers in which Holuba posted 10 tackles and three sacks. Holuba currently anchors a Tiger defense that ranks No. 3 in the Football Championship Subdivision in rushing defense, allowing only 54 rushing yards per game this season. Maintaining this consistency on the defensive will be a key to success for the Tigers against a Harvard team that rushed for 296 yards in its last game. Playing solid, mistake-free football will also be vital as Princeton faces the Ivy League’s top return man in Harvard, junior Justice Shelton-Mosley.
Princeton’s defense is sure to be supported by the offense, led by senior quarterback Chad Kanoff, who now leads the FCS with a 73.9 completion percentage through the first five games and has thrown for 15 touchdowns. Coupled with Volker and junior wide receiver Jesper Horsted, who has 42 catches on the season, the Tigers have a varied offensive attack in place that should be firing on all cylinders as the team takes on the Crimson. Princeton’s offensive depth has already produced a 52.9 percent third down conversion rate, good enough for No. 3 in the FCS.
In this week’s “Original Eleven” podcast, senior offensive lineman Mitchell Sweigart plainly noted, “Our backs are against the wall now; we really need to win out.” The first step towards winning the rest of the way will come at Harvard; another “W” on the record would solidify the Tigers’ position as contenders in their bid to repeat as Ivy League Champions.