Losing streak continues as Tigers suffer another heartbreaker and end bonfire hopes
With 67 combined points, over 1,000 yards of total offense, and no shortage of big plays, Saturday’s Princeton-Yale game was as exciting as could be expected for a matchup between the Ivy League’s two best offenses. For the fourth time this season, however, Princeton wound up on the losing side of a thrilling game, falling 35-31 at home to Yale. The Bulldogs overcame a 17-point deficit in the first half to deny Princeton what would have been its first bonfire since 2013.
Even in defeat, Saturday was a record breaking affair for the Princeton offense. Throwing for 454 yards, senior Chad Kanoff set his personal best for passing yards in a game and left himself positioned to break the Princeton records for most passing yards in a single season and in a career, both held currently by Doug Butler ’86. Kanoff also broke the Princeton record for touchdown passes in a season with 26, breaking the record on a third-quarter TD pass to junior wide receiver Jesper Horsted. Horsted also broke the Princeton record for receiving touchdowns in a season on that same play, catching his 11th of the year.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Bob Surace '90 expressed satisfaction with the way his team played against Yale, which secured at least a share of the Ivy League title Saturday. “Our guys were amazing … I couldn’t be more proud of the way we played,” he said. “That’s one of the great defenses in our league, nationally they’re ranked in every category, and our offense played extremely well.”
Princeton took advantage of a series of big plays in the first half to leap out to an early 24-7 lead. The Tigers opened the scoring with an 88-yard touchdown pass from Kanoff to Horsted in the first quarter and added another score on an 18-yard pass to junior receiver Stephen Carlson. After Yale freshman Zane Dudek broke a 47-yard run to get Yale on the board, Kanoff connected with sophomore receiver Tiger Bech for a 58-yard touchdown pass, extending the margin to 24-7 with just under two minutes left in the first half.
From there, the Yale offense began to drive down the field with relative ease against an injury-riddled Princeton defense. Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 24-14 at the half, giving the Bulldogs momentum heading into the locker room. Princeton struggled to contain Dudek, who carried the ball 35 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns, including a 4-yard run to give Yale a 35-31 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Princeton drove down into Yale territory on its final possession, but their hopes were dashed when Kanoff’s desperate heave on 4th and long was intercepted with a minute remaining.
Saturday’s game continued Princeton’s season trend of losing incredibly tight games. Over the course of its Ivy League schedule, Princeton has lost four games by a combined total of just 11 points. The team would probably be justified, then, in saying that it has not enjoyed the greatest of luck.
Though the Ivy League title is now officially out of reach, Princeton will have one more chance to reverse its fortunes this season, in its finale next Saturday at Dartmouth. “We just [need to] find that one play, that one call, whatever that is, to get that feeling again,” said Surace. “And we’re going to fight like hell to get it next week.”